Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Changing strategy in Mtts

Lost my internet and Tv last night so with time on my hands I decided to put some of my current thoughts for MTTs into words

Changing strategy in Mtts

To be a TAG or LAG that is the question or is it. People generally fall into one of the said categories but should the aim to be good at either. Surely the aim of players should be to be capable of interchanging their game between both styles when table conditions are accommodating or when stack size dictates, also the tournament structure is very important. The following thoughts are for early and middle/latish stages of tournaments and not for very late stages (I’d consider most have an idea of how aggressive we should be when a tournament reaches two tables of seven until the finishing line)

The LAG game affiliates itself to the accumulation of chips branch of thought for MTTs. The basic premise being that you get chips and lots of them enabling you to have more chips then others meaning you can take a hit or a big race without your tournament life being on the line. In theory the LAG will go out early in most tournaments but when he goes deep, it’s really deep and either wins or cashes big.

The TAG game is aliened with the tournament survival branch of thought. It generally means playing big pots with premium starting hands. While the TAG may cash more then the Lag these cashes will be smaller and the loss of a race or a beat usually means the end of the tags tournament.

Personally I initially played a fairly LAG game and was a raise ATC merchant. I had reasonable success playing this method mainly due to good natural post flop instincts and the convection to go with my reads. Also the standard I was playing against was very bad in live small stakes small field games.

As I started playing bigger games against better players my game tightened considerably and over the course of a year I went from being a total LAG to a total TAG. I still incorporated the odd big move or play into my game but instead of three or four an hour I did when lagging, it might be one big move in five levels, which were being set up by my Tag image. Also the games were becoming so aggressive you got paid when you waited for a premium hand so it just seemed the logical way to play.

Now on the live front I intend to loosen up my game again considerably drawing on all the experience I have gained over the last two years. Quite simply I’m bored playing a TAG game. Poker is more exciting playing pots and outplaying your opponents on latter streets. Also I feel the game in general has tightened up a lot over the last six months. Thus I feel the time is right to loosen up,

This doesn’t mean that when you meet me at the table I’ll be raising every pot. On the contrary, in the first paragraph of this I said that the aim should be to be good at both styles so your game becomes interchangeable when conditions dictate. To explain my thoughts I’ll look at two different sites where the players and structures are considerably different.

On the cryptologic network where I play a good bit you’ll often find your self at a table where players are tagging it early; well on this type of table opening pots with a huge range of hands is the optimum play as you know the majority are only fighting back with premium hands. My guess is 66/75% of initial raises get through and probably the same for C-bets if called. This will allow you to build your stack with many small increments. As the tournament progresses with the blinds increasing players start playing back at you a lot more so tightening it up and playing big pots with big hands probably becomes the optimal.

The main factors here are the style of the opponents and the blinds structure, which rise exponentially at the latter stages. Also the flat payout structures from 30 to 10 mean that your opponents are only too happy to get there chips in with marginal hands. To summarise in these types of tourney in theory we should try build a big stack playing loose aggressive generally small pots and then tighten up as the M drops and the field is gambling.

On stars I think adopting the exact opposite strategy is called for. The 3000 starting stack guarantees and the re buy tournaments usually allow for a decent M in the mid to mid/late stages of the tournament while the preflop aggression is much greater early. Here I would not advocate opening pots with hand unless your prepared to get them all in pre, I’d say up to 75% of initial bets get raised on stars. Of course you can attempt to snap off a few serial raisers but in general I want to try and get a biggish stack by playing big pots with big hands.

On the occasions when we can achieve this then I suggest really opening up your game. Say weave hit the money typically 150 or so out the average stack is usually a decent M; then I think the course to adopt is very aggressive. Your opponents can smell a really decent payout and won’t be fighting back as light as before especially if you have the big stack. If a shortstack fights back well take him on with any shit it puts others off doing so and generally you wont be worse then 30/70. I generally use a 15% of my stack rule for this though.

Now I’ve been using the stars/crypto tournaments as examples but you should be able to see the characteristics in whatever game your playing and your aggressiveness should be interchangeable to take advantage of the situation you find your self in