Letters to Doctor Jack
Hi Dr Jack,
Like lots of your readers, I find that in MTTs I was playing tight at the beginning of the tourney hoping to catch the muppets out and double up with a premium hand when called by some dross.
This would work on the very rare occasion and I would sometimes reach a final table between the $3 and $12 dollar buyins. Problem was it wasn't often enough to become a profitable player.
Two days ago I decided to try something different. At the beginning of a tourney I would still play tight but after about five or six levels dependant on my chipstack I would start to play more marginal hands like KJ in late position but only calling the pre flop raises and playing the hand from there.
Since doing this I have placed 1st, 2nd and 6th in my last 4 tourneys, only missing the money by one place in the other. Do you think this is a good strategy to go on with or is it just down to luck?
To kick off, perhaps you were lucky but then luck will always play its part in poker. The pro's will tell you that poker is 70% skill and 30% luck. Obviously thought we are not all pro's so therefore the level of luck involved in your game is largely dependant on your skill level. You must have a strategy otherwise you may as well play blindfolded. You are heading in the right direction with your strategy however let me give you some pointers that will help you improve and hopefully improve your performance:
* In the early stage of a tournament, the blinds tend to be quite small so you have a couple of levels to find your feet. It is important to get a feel for how the rest of the table is playing. If the average is very tight, then loosen up and raise more. If the table is very loose, then tighten up and exploit their looseness by waiting for premium hands and getting paid off.
* In the middle stages you will need to move up a few gears as the blinds increase to prevent your stack diminishing. Stealing the blinds can keep you alive, if a number of players limp in and you are in late position looking to raise, add a blind to the raise for every limper which in essence will price your opponents out of the pot. Sense weakness in your opponent and represent a monster. Taking small pots will keep you out of trouble and send a signal to your opponents that you are not to be toyed with.
* In the later stages it is more about survival and playing the player. You do not want to be forced into making a move so be aware of your position and your opponent's chips. If you have less than ten times the blinds you are short stacked, you need to begin looking for opportunities to push while your stack is still scary. No point trying to be aggressive with half a blind and a prayer, try to double-up and put yourself in a good position rather than end up having to quadruple up and ending up back at square one.
Now you are on the final table you need to clarify your objectives. Do you simply want to get in the money OR win? The number of chips you have in relation to your opponent's chips are statistically equal to your percentage chance of winning the tournament. For instance if you hold 40% of the chips then you have a 40% chance of winning the tournament. The winner of the tournament holds 100% of the chips, if you want to win then that should be your goal. If you have managed to get this far in the tournament then do not alter your play, playing this way has gotten you this far so don't mend something that's not broken!
Best of luck at the tables and let me know how you get on!
Here is $20 for your troubles.
All about Dr Jack
Dr Jack is one of four brothers from a large family of fifty two. A dapper gent, you will always see him in a suit. Although on the more debauched side, he claims to like a woman with a nice pair and has occasion to get blind drunk on his favoured tipple, “Gin”. He likes to run occasionally and would describe himself as straight, although most people do think he is a bit nuts. He was once caught folding to a gay waiter...
Flush with cash and a member of several affluent clubs, he once ran a marginally successful fresh water lobster farm. Unfortunately the business flopped leaving him feeling like a bit of a cowboy. He left the world of opulence to follow his heart all the way to poker heaven. His peers describe him as a “diamond geezer” and “one of a kind”. Those who have fallen foul to his superior skills refer to him with less gracious terms.
Dr Jack lives in a rather full house in the Cotswold’s with his two dogs Siegfried and Roy and a Bolivian tree frog called Boris.