Tournament Play: Mid-Range M Value, Part II

Three-Handed

In Part I, we outlined a few key tournament techniques that can significantly improve your results in MTTs.

Catch up with Part 1 here if you haven't read it.

In Part II we'll look at another useful tactic - re-stealing against a late position raise.

Specifically we'll deal with the re-steal as one of the key strategic adjustments you need to make when you find yourself with an M in the 8-15 range in a tournament.

The Re-Steal

Many players tend to play too tight when facing an opening raise from late position (for simplicity's sake, let's assume any raise from the hijack, cut-off or button is considered late position).

Of course, when a player raises from under the gun, you usually need to show him a little respect.

A raise from the cut-off, though, could represent a fairly wide range of hands.

So whenever possible, you want to be aggressive and try to go after the money already in the middle.

Imagine you have an M of 8 and are on the button with A-8 suited.

Against a typical opponent, who raises to 3x the big blind from the cut-off, you have a fairly easy decision.

You should move all-in, unless you know for a fact the cut-off is very tight. Even hands that don't have an ace may be perfectly reasonable hands to make a move with.

For example K-Q or K-J, or even possibly surprising hands such as J-T or 8-7 suited.

And although I prefer not to try a move with the smallest pocket pairs (22-44), all other pairs are strong enough to move in with.

Play to Win

If you want to dramatically improve your tournament results, you must be playing to win.

You may end up eliminating yourself just before the money - or just in the money - far more often than you did before.

But the chances you take will lead to considerably more final-table appearances, a much better chance of finishing in the top three positions and a much better chance of earning a big payday.

Remember, to make the correct decision about whether or not to try a re-steal, you must, at minimum, consider the following factors:

  • Your opponent's probable range of hands
  • The probability he'll fold to your re-raise
  • How your hand will perform in a showdown if he calls

In my experience, the more I can be dispassionate about the decision and separate the results from the process, the better my results become.

If you can get in the habit of considering all of these factors analytically as opposed to emotionally you'll be on the road to improved results.

The Squeeze Play

The other common re-steal is the squeeze play.

The squeeze play, well known to any tournament poker regular, involves trying to take advantage of a player you suspect is opening (raising) light.

It's used when a second player, who also (presumably) knows what the first player is doing, decides only to call rather than raise.

This, of course, leaves both players ripe for the squeeze play.

The player executing the squeeze play simply makes a large re-raise. This traps the initial raiser (who likely has a relatively weak hand) between you and the caller.

This makes it extremely difficult for the original raiser to call. The caller also tends to have a weak hand because he wasn't prepared to re-raise pre-flop.

For some reason, the caller often simply notes the original raiser is possibly making a position raise and he wants to try and see a cheap flop.

By re-raising (and putting on the squeeze) you deny him that possibility.

Consider the following common situation:

You're in the big blind with $15,000. The cut-off raises 3x the big blind to $3,000 and the button calls.

If you have any reasonable hand, you should consider moving all-in. If both players fold, you'll have added $7,500 to your stack.

Because there's the possibility of stealing the pot, you can move in with far more hands than most players would normally consider.

More Aggression = Improved Results

Although it's been written many times before, it's worth repeating because it's so important:

In tournament play, the real money is in the top three positions.

Simply sneaking into the money will do little for your profitability in the long run. If you truly want to improve your results, you must play to win.

Try and look for opportunities to use the re-steal more often.

If you do, you'll start to notice you have a much healthier stack as the tournament reaches its critical stages.

Being more aggressive - especially when your stack creeps down into the 8-15 range - will pay off with more final-table finishes.

Aand, we can hope, more tournament victories.

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wildmanner 2011-08-07 00:40:22

any reasonable hand= 6-7 connectors all the way up
any one spaced 9-j all the way up
any 2 spaced 9-q all the way up
and any 2 cards 10 or higher all the way up to ace
and any pp 5's or higher
thats a pretty good range 50 percent or so
try it, they will fold 75 percent
if not
you have a good drawing, hand no shame in going down fighting.

Sean Lind 2009-02-18 18:10:00

You're welcome Roger.

How much to re-raise when you're squeezing is somewhat situation dependent, but the rule of thumb is to raise an amount large enough to make folding a viable option.

If big blind is 15k, the first raiser will probably raise to 45k. You need to be raising 3-4 times his bet to not give him odds to call, meaning you should be pumping it to $135k or more.

You also need to take into account your total stack sizes. If the raiser only has $50k left after their raise, chances are they're going to call no matter how much you bet.

Roger 2009-02-14 04:11:00

Thank you Sean, that clears it up enormously.

Another follow-up question: I'm still relatively new and am unsure of the proper re-raise amount here. Going back to the example above (BB w/ 15,000), if you're holding 72o, how much should you re-raise for?

Sean Lind 2009-02-13 19:09:00

I'll answer on Peter's behalf. The squeeze play is meant to take the pot preflop, if done correctly in the right spot, you will never see a flop, thus the cards don't matter.

In my opinion, if you're good enough to spot the opportunity to make this play, your hand is absolutely irrelevant.

In fact, if you have a hand with showdown value, a squeeze play can be a mistake, since you're eliminating three betting rounds where you could extract value.

When Peter says "any reasonable hand" he's considering the scenario where you get called, and are forced to play post-flop. In such a scenario, you want a hand with a chance at connecting with a board.

With this in mind, the ideal hands to squeeze with will be suited connectors, like 5-6, or suited one gappers like 6-8. You want at least a chance at making a decent hand, while you really would rather take the pot preflop.

Roger 2009-02-13 11:54:00

Thanks for the article. Although the first part about the re-steal is very helpful, the second is not. When you say moving in with any "reasonable hand" to squeeze, what are you talking about? K9? J10?

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