Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Article: 5 ways to improve your MTT game

Improving your MTT game: an article for mediocre players who want to get good!

Until recently, I considered myself to be a relatively good online poker player. I routinely made it about halfway through big tourneys, but never cashed and certainly never won any of them. I just assumed that it was bad luck. After reading this site and seeing that people can actually cash on a regular basis, I realized that I was not as good as I thought I was. I set about creating a plan for getting better. In the last month I have made 5 final tables. People were actually commenting about my play at the tables. They were saying things like “Super, nice play...whos standing in for you?” and “Super, nice chip stack, is it really you?” It is really me, my friends…and I love it. So, I decided that I would share my 5 secrets for MTT success with all of you.

#1: Tighten up- Early on in tournaments, you really should play tight. There is really just no point in being loose. Lets say you call in late position with 9-7 suited with the blinds at 5-10. The flop comes 9-7-J. You bet, get called…turn is a 2. You bet, the other guy folds and you win 60 chips. WHO CARES? You start with 1500 or 2500, 60 means nothing!! And sometimes, you’re going to bust when that other guy hits his trip deuces on the turn! At the beginning stage of the tourneys, the chips you DON’T lose are worth more than the small amount of chips you could win. Also, build a pot with your big hands. If you pick up KK when the blinds are 5-10, make it 50 to go. Someone with A-Q, or lower pocket pairs is probably going to call you. Now you have a pot worth playing for.

#2: Make Good Laydowns- I don’t mind taking stabs here and there, but don’t be afraid to laydown if you think you are beat. If you have KK and the flop is A-5-9 and you bet and someone raises…lay it down. I know its hard, but lay it down. Do NOT play trouble hands like A-9, K-10 or the like, fold those hands preflop. Another big point here is not to overvalue top pair. Say you have A-10 in the BB and the flop comes 10-5-7 and you bet the pot. Your bet gets raised or maybe there is even a reraise…your top pair is likely no good, dump it. Also, youre gut will tell you a lot. We have all just “felt like we’re beat” even though we have a good hand. If you get that feeling, fold. You’ll suprize yourself with how many times you are right. Remember, you WILL get enough good hands in the first hour of an average tourney to accumulate a good stack without playing trouble hands.

#3: Have Position- One of the most undervalued factors in the game, is position. Watch some of the top 10 players, see when they bluff, see when they play questionable hands (like Bax and his famous 97 suited) it is almost always when they have position. If I get hands like 22-88 or AJ when I am in early or middle position, 90% of the time I fold them. There are too many people left to act behind me. Also, don’t forget, if you are in late position and there are 3 or 4 limpers, a 3xBB raise isn’t likely to win you the pot. Say you pick up QQ on the button, but there are 4 limpers before you. The blinds are 20/40. 120 is probably going to get you one or 2 callers. Try making it 200 to go, likely you will win the pot right there or be up against one caller. If you do get a caller, you have position. You have the ability to see what that player does before you put any more money into the pot. That is a HUGE advantage…use it!

#4: Learn When to Raise- A good example is with something like J-10 suited. If I am on the button or the cutoff and it is folded around to me, I will often raise with J-10 suited. However, I would never call a raise with those cards. Learning when to raise and when to call a raise is a very important part of tournament strategy. You’ve all heard this: “You need a stronger hand to call a raise than you do to make a raise”. But many of us don’t follow that mantra. Also, unless you have a very good hand, most of your raises will be from positions 7-9. Poker should (to an extent) be boring. You should be folding most of the hands you get.

#5: Find a Mentor- I know this is not as easy as it sounds and I have been very lucky in this regard. Find someone who is a winning player, someone who’s game you respect. And flat out, just ask them. “Hey, would you be willing to help me with my game?” Many players, especially the good ones, are very busy. So don’t be disheartened or take it personally if they say no. I asked 6 people and only got 2 responses. But you will find someone, there are a LOT of good players on this site.

I am giving you what I never got, a guaranteed roadmap to MTT success. Follow these rules and you will improve your game, you will become a winning player. As always, I truly hope you guys found this article helpful. I get great satisfaction in knowing Ive contributed something to this community, from whom I have taken so much. GG and GL!

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