So I have been very successful in lower stakes MTTs and I’m bankrolled substantially enough to start venturing into higher stakes. Thus far I’ve tried five higher stakes tourneys, a few 20s, a fifty and a 100 (Though not bankrolled for it, I had to experience it.) and hit enough ITM to be profitable. Now, small sample aside, I know that I caught cards when I needed them and had the right players in the pot with me. So, despite being a little above break even, I definitely need a little help.

The difference between a 3 dollar buy-in compared to a 50 dollar buy-in tourney is like limit and no limit to me, they are just vastly different games with vastly different players. And I don’t mean satellites or other random tourneys, I mean cash money and specifically I’m citing the tourney players on Stars. Here’s some of the differences I’ve noted.

1. Unabashed blind stealing seems to happen in the first few levels which surprises the hell out of me. What doesn’t surprise me is no defense occurs whatsoever.

2. Inducing bluffs seems actually profitable. In lower stakes games the guy is reading his cards and inducing a bluff is just a waste of a chance to get more money. But in higher stakes it seems if you raise your aces preflop from the SB, someone puts you on high pockets instantly and the only call you get is for implied odds. Then when you post oak bluff bet when you catch your set, checking to him on the turn, this sort of play actually seems to pay off! He might play back real hard thinking you have kings.

3. The progression in your average tourney seems to be loose passive to tight passive. In higher stakes it seems to be tight aggressive to loose aggressive. (This goes without saying. Basically, it’s ABC MTT poker, but it’s by far the biggest difference.)

4. Blind stealing from the button is a recipe for a push back at you. Then you’re thinking, is this Q high baby still good and yada yada yada.

5. Follow up bets, particularly at lower levels, are very much so respected. Guys will call with their pockets, take their one in ten chance that they’re going to bust you and then let it go.

6. Maniac/dead money count is much much lower ratio. Every once in awhile you might stumble across a jackass with a VPIP of 80%, but they’re ludicrously rare, most players are seeing 20% of flops or less.

7. Reads are ten times as important. In low stakes you don’t really need reads until you’re late in the game and you can possibly still win it even then. In the larger stakes you will live and die by them.

So, this is what I’m thinking and I’ll leave it to you card ninjas/jedi masters to guide me in the right direction. Not taking credit for this strategy, this is just the play I think is going to be profitable. Looking at the other successful MTT players, it seems to be profitable for them, so really it’s just distilling their strategy down a bit and then asking for advice.

Early in the tourney.

Just waiting for cards doesn’t cut it. People are savvy enough to actually remember that you raised preflop (novel idea) and will respect the pot odds you lay them (or the absence thereof) etc.

In early levels, I play tight from early position. However, if I am within two of the CO and there’s two or less limpers that aren’t maniacs, then I raise a 4x with any two if the seconds hand on my watch is between 40-60 (30% of the time, but using the watch as a random number seed, and I’ll change it up if I play enough. I can also fudge it if the players in the pot are so tight its a 90% EV move). I can always veto this bet if there’s a calling station in the pot or there’s a calling station behind me. This is also instantly vetoed if I just raised it, whether I had the goods then or not. I make a follow up bet on the flop if the minutes hand is on an even number or the hour hand or the seconds is not an even number (75%, can also fudge this if my reads are the player is overly tight, some players this will be a 100% move) and I believe the player is tight enough for this to make it +EV. I tried this out last night and it did extremely well for me. The majority of the hands I was running into were long term +EV strong multiway hands. Hoping to take a big pair’s stack (Small pair, suited connectors, etc and very few big face cards or big pairs.), I ran into one slow played big pair and I twice got action played back at me in about twenty of these hands. Once I hit a completely hidden hand with action (OESD off of 74o that connected) and took KKs stack when he tried to slow play. If I get played back at, I call if the hand has huge potential, one gapper, pockets, whatever.

If someone raises UTG or UTG+1, then I am going to call with connectors, suited one gappers and the usual gamut (Suited connectors, small pockets, etc.) if they have a stack. Likewise if the BB or SB raises after I limp.

So, what’s the benefit of this?

First, it lets me see a lot of flops with a chance to take what’s in it if I miss, or capitalize hard if I hit with a hidden hand.

I get more action on my better hands and will hopefully get folks playing back at me when I have the goods. I’m going to be raising more than any other player at the table and all their little poker offices are going to be lighting up. And the one time I show down 85o they’re gonna be waiting for me, which is great! I love that because it makes up for no dead money. I do need to keep reads on all players, using this style, because I could very easily loose a good portion of my stack to some guy calling bets with bottom pocket pair. There’s still dead money, so I gotta watch for it. My VPIP overall is going to be about 35% and most of those are going to be raises minus a limp or two from earlier position or real late with a lot of limpers.

One last caveat, I get three orbits for my reads before I start in with this. If I get moved tables then I have to get 3 orbits again.

Middle-Late Tourney:

Here’s where things always get rough. If I’m at the same table, then I have to push with my steals, pure and simple, and I need to be careful if there’s limpers. If I’m at a different table, I will try a 4x raise (which will be higher than standard) from MP2/MP3/CO but not on the button. If I’m on the button I make one probe steal to see if the BB is tight enough to let me take it. If he plays back at me, then from thenceforward its push time baby when on the button.

I may steal from MP2, MP3 or CO before antes kick in, but never commit the stack on the button before antes kick in. The profit is not high enough.

So what’s this do?

The steal needs no introduction really. But the betting style here is specifically geared towards the players at these stakes/ They’ll respect raises from early position a little more and are less likely to play back. When I’m on the button I don’t give them the option to play back. If they think A7o is the best hand here they don’t get to win the hand two ways, they only get to win it one way, by calling. Again, not really anything ingenuitive here.

So, this is what I’m thinking, thoughts? Anything I missed? Is this retarded?

Should also note, the percentages and what not here are all subject to fudging if my reads tell me otherwise. I mention that a couple of times, but I’m avoiding mechanical play like the plague.

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Higher Stakes MTT Strategy
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