Thursday, February 5, 2009

Late Stage Bet Sizing in 90 Seat MTT

I've been winning a bit lately. That's not really a brag; it's just something that is (quite happily and at long last) happening. It doesn't hurt that I've been racing well. Primarily I have been playing the $3.30 90 seat SNG KOs that run in the main tournament lobby over on Full Tilt Poker.. These are nice because:

1) The play is way too loose early.
2) The play is way too tight late.
3) Deep runs usually result in enough 50-cent bounties to offset the rake.

At this stage I've played about twenty and won three of them, and cashed one more. A small sample size to be sure, but with the 15% win rate I've managed to bring my bankroll back from the dead. So . . . yay! Party on, Garth.

An adjustment I've made that I think helps involves bet sizing near the bubble; say when the starting pot is 1,000 or more, and the short stacks are 3K to 5K. Hopefully at this point I am somewhere in the 12K - 20K range, so I have a few options besides all-in.

I'm not exactly telling you the news when I say that the key now is to steal blinds whenever you can. What I've discovered here is that it's not much good to range your stealing bets in the 2x-4x traditional size against mid-sized stacks, for the simple reason that almost every pot is contested and thus it is understood that your raise doesn't mean much. If you try to steal and your opponent has the opportunity to exercise any kind of fold equity at all, they're going to take that opportunity and beat you to death with it like it's a frozen leg of lamb. Moreover, they're going to do it with a very wide range.

As long as I have everybody fairly well covered, I've taken to simply putting small and mid-stacks all-in when I steal. So to steal (say) a 1350 starting pot, I'll pop it up to 10,000 if the stacks ahead of me are 10,000 or less. It's one thing to try re-stealing against me with an all-in shove while holding J9 or K5, knowing a) you are quite possibly ahead and b) you have some fold equity; but it is a much different proposition to actually call for your tournament life with those hands, even when you KNOW I am stealing. Maximum pressure for maximum steal success. Then when we get down to about five remaining at the final table, I count on everybody hoping to get into one of the top payoff spots and I steal with overbets mercilessly. I credit this tactic with getting me to 3 wins in just 4 final tables. In all my wins, by the time I got three handed, all the stealing has allowed me to get 70% or so of all the chips in play.

Now, I do have some rules. First, I really do have to have a decent enough stack, so even if I'm called and I lose, I still have enough chips to command respect with a shove. I don't tend to make this move much if there is somebody in the hand who has me covered or could totally cripple me, and I REALLY don't do it if there's somebody in the hand who has a mega mega stack and can pressure me off it even if I over-bet. I also have a very strict policy of sucking out if I do get called. Please remember to exercise the sucking out clause if you decide to employ this tip.

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