Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What should you do? Using M To Guide Your Critical Tournament Poker Decisions

Lets build on this concept and how it can help you improve your tournament results.

1. What is M?

M is your chip stack divided by the total of the blinds and antes. It tells you the number of rounds of the table you can survive before getting blinded off.

It is also a good idea to know a) how much time is left in the round since the size of the blinds/antes will reduce your M and b)your opponents M and how that will effect their play

2. The Zones based on your M, the strategies and some examples:

In general, the M tends to come into play towards the end of a tournament. Of course, if you've taken a big hit on your stack, you may need to use it earlier. Also, the M comes into play earlier on many online one table satellites, especially those turbo events.

Here is a brief review of the strategies using M and examples:

Green Zone: M is 20 or more.
You can play your style as you have ample chips.

Yellow Zone: M is 10 to 20.
You need to be somewhat more aggressive with high pairs and high card hands.
With small pairs and small connectors be more conservative.

Example:
Blinds $400/$800/$50 antes
Position: Button
Cards: 9c-8s
Chips: $26900.

One late position player with $18300 calls. What should you do?

Your M is about 16. Harrington says to call given your odds of 3-1 and you have position. Without the antes, he recommends a fold.

Orange Zone: M is 6 to 10.
You need to open with more hands and try a small ball approach.
Again, be more careful with those small pairs and suited connectors.
However, if you are considering opening with an all-in move, the small pairs and suited connectors are playable.

Example:
Blinds $50/$100
Position: 5th
Cards: Tc-7c
Chips: $1040

The player under the gun calls, and everyone folds to you. What should you do?

You have an M of 7. You have a weak hand. Just fold.

Example:
Blinds $50/$100
Position: 2 from button
Cards: Ah-8h
Chips: $1300

Everyone fold to you. What should you do?

You have an M between 8 and 9. Raise here. More than three times the big blind. (Note: What is interesting is that Harrington said to use a small ball approach here. Perhaps he meant compared to an all-in bet.)

Red Zone: M is 2 to 5.
Move all-in with a wide range of cards, like two face cards, small pairs or better, suited connectors.
Your position at the table doesn't matter.

Keep in mind the concept of first in vigorish; this means that when no one is in the pot, the player who makes the first pre-flop raise has the initiative. Therefore, when your M is 3, if there is a 50% chance your opponents will fold, move all-in first pre-flop with almost any two cards.

Example:
Blinds $6000/$12000/$2000 antes
Position: 1st
Cards: Ks-Qh
Chips: $135000

What should you do?

You have an M of 3.5. Move all-in! Even though you have more than 10 times the BB!

Example:
Blinds $600/$1200/$75 antes
Position: 3rd
Cards: Kd-Qh
Chips: $135000

First two players fold. What should you do?

You have an M of 5. While Harrington says moving all-in is reasonable, he prefers a raise to $6000 since it looks more threatening.

You have an M of 3.5. Move all-in! Even though you have more than 10 times the BB!

Example:
Blinds $50/$100
Position: BB
Cards: Ad-2c
Chips: $750

The button with $1300 raises to $350, what should you do?

You have an M of 5. But you don't have first-in vigorish. If you move all-in your opponent has odds to call and only your Ace will play, so fold. If you had an A-7 or A-8, you should move all-in.

Example:
Blinds $75/$150
Position: BB
Cards: Ad-4s
Chips: $1200

A player moves all-in with $820, and another player with $2300 calls. What should you do?

Your M is 5 but you don't have first-in vigorish. Fold. Only call here with A-K or A-Q.

Example:
Blinds $1000/$2000/$300 Ante
Position: 3rd (7 handed table)
Cards: Ad-4s
Chips: $16000
Only 2 tables left in the event.

It's folded to you. What should you do?

You have an M of 3. This is an actual hand I played at the club. I moved all-in. I got called by a player with Q-Q.

The flop was 2-5-J. The turn was an Ace! But the river was a Queen. Ouch!

Did I make a mistake?

Dead Zone: M is below 2.
Move all-in with ALMOST anything....any Ace, King, Queen, two medium cards that are suited or connected.
Try to be the first to enter a pot.
Auto-Fold=two unsuited.

Example:
Blinds $600/$1200/$75 ante
Position: 2nd
Cards: Qd-6s
Chips: $4600

What should you do?

You have an M under 2. Move all-in! You need chips.

Additional points on M

Know your opponents M since these players will be pushing the action. And your positional advantage of acting last will decrease.

Effective M is a way to adjust for short tables. To calculate your M when the table is short simply take your M and multiply it by the number of players left/10. So, if your M is 8 and there are 5 players left, your effective M is really 8 multiplied by .5 or 4. The result is that you need to be taking more chances. Also at a short table, your weak cards plus good pot odds really equals a playable situation.

Conclusion

Give M a try in your next few tournaments. To read more on this concept, get Harrington's book Volume 2 here. Most of the summary above is from reviewing his book.

2 comments:

Melody said...

Interesting stuff. How much do u pay attention to M when reading other players? Is it constant or just something that happens as tourneys drag on?

Mitchell said...

Great question! I'm trying to use M more in my games--it has not worked well so far for me, but I may have not understood it as well as I should have.

I tended to use my reading other players as the determining factor on my play--especially in key points of the game. But, now, I want to try this M concept to see if it works.

I will report on how it works out.
Please do the same the same.

Thanks,
Mitchell

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