Friday, May 11, 2007

2.5hrs - My take on MTT strategy

Survival vs accumulation - I think this topic has been discussed in many different forums regarding multitable tournaments (MTTs). Just to briefly rehash, the debate is on whether to play tight so that you can survive into the later parts of the tournament vs taking big risks early to accumulate chips so that you can enter the later stages of the tournament with a big chip advantage. In today's tournament structure where the top finishers get rewarded heavily, the chip accumulation strategy makes sense. However, the question here is how do you accumulate chips quicker? In other words, how do you make something out of nothing?

That is a question I've been struggling with for a long time which is why I always refer to myself as a tournament donk. I think I just don't get it. Whenever I tell Mrs Recess that I am in a tournament, she always asks what time it started because she knows that almost every time, I'm out of the tournament in 2.5 hrs... Sometimes, it stings. Other times, I just kinda laugh it off. But when I sit down and think about it, it's definitely more of a symptom than a coincidence. In other words, if Mrs Recess who pays no attention to my poker playing (or this blog) also realizes that I'm out of tourneys in 2.5hrs, then I must always be out of tourneys in 2.5hrs. So then the next question was why?

And the inevitable truth comes out. I play too tight and so I end up playing survival instead of chip accumulation. But if I don't get it, I just don't get it, right? In other words, I can't just say "oh, I'm playing survival poker. I need to switch to chip accumulation poker." And then switch it like that. If it were that easy, I'd like to think I'd have done that by now. So, first off, as I read the forums and other blogs, I noticed one trend which is pushing the marginal edge early on. In other words, a lot of people seem to go into the race situation early. Now, I'm not going to repeat Hoy's post regarding this but I'm personally not a big fan of getting into a coinflip situation early. And here's my take on why that is.

For aggressive chip accumulation, let's say that you push in order to double up, every time you sense there's a race situation. Well, if you do that, then let's say you have a 50/50 shot at winning that race. You win one and that's great, you just doubled your stackc. Of course, if you lose, you're out. But let's say in a tournament with 150 players, what good is doubling your chip stack at that point? Ok, let me rephrase the question. What good is doubling your chip stack at the risk of being out of the tournament so quickly? Now, I also understand the argument of if you have more chips, you can take bigger risks early on to add to your stack. But one thing about the race situation is that you are taking the skill factor out of poker and just letting it ride on luck. And in these tournaments, there are always donks out there who you should be able to outplay. But by pushing and making the donks have to make only one decision (call all-in or fold), you're in effect negating your own skills, no? Where as you may be able to outplay a donk on the flop or the turn, you're letting the cards do all the talking if you just push for a coin flip.

Having said all that, there must be something. Today, I qualified for Event #1 of FTOPS IV. As usual, I played tight early on, very slowly accumulating chips. After the second break, the antes kicked in and so I was going to open up my game a little more but the cards didn't cooperate. Until I picked up pocket jacks at the cutoff position... which I raised, got called by a big stack in the big blind, flop comes 9-9-10, he checks, I jam, he calls with pocket aces and I end up 851 out of 2,573 runners. Now, that's definitely just unlucky that that happened but when I saw that my bust out time was approx 2.5 hrs after the tournament started, I knew. I just knew something needs to be done with my game here. In other words, my game was so tight that my raises would have only been called with premieum hands. So it was inevitable that at some point, someone was going to have better cards because if they narrowed my raising range to any pocket pair and AQ+, though I'm not that tight, they won't be too far off. So in other words, if they tighten their calling range to that, then it won't be too often that I am ahead.

So, for those of you that play a lot of tournaments, what's your style/strategy? Where do you choose to open up? Do you try to double up early or do you wait till the pots are worth stealing, ie bigger blinds or blinds with antes? This is certainly an area I would like to improve in and so I'm gonna go do some homework myself.

1 comment:

AnguilA said...

I'm still working on becoming a better MTT player, but I think I've already gained some ground. I used to play with as tight a range as you say here, but I've opened up a bit. And along with that I've started to try and gain some chips by taking advantage of others that are playing like I used to. Therefore, I "represent" hands whenever I feel some weakness, which leads me to win some uncontested pots and also helps my image, since now I can get paid with my monsters sometimes.

Right now I'm trying to find the courage to make some re-steals when the bubble approaches, which is another weapon every decent MTT player has.

My best advice for you is to be aggresive with your cards, with position and whenever you read weakness.

Hope it helps.