Some players get down to 12 big blinds (BB) in a poker tournament and start opening all-in preflop, thinking that they don't have enough chips to properly play postflop. Postflop play may be different, but that doesn't mean that you need to open all-in preflop.
Suppose you have AA and open all-in to 12BB. Players put short stacks who are all-in on a wide range of hands. However, even if you have the lowest chip stack in the tournament, your opponents won't think of you as a true short stack if you have 12BB. Your opponents typically won't put you on a wide range of hands. Even if they do, most won't gamble 12BB. You won't get any value from your AA by opening all-in to 12BB.
With a stack of around 5BB, you can justify opening all-in with any two cards provided that you have substantial fold equity. The 1.5BB to be stolen represents a large fraction of your stack, and you don't have much more time to wait for a good opportunity. Meanwhile, with 12BB, the 1.5BB in the pot represents a small fraction of your stack, and you have enough time to wait for a better opportunity.
With 10BB-15BB, you can consider raising preflop to 3BB with premium poker hands or as a steal from late position. If your raise is called, use all your preflop skills to best determine what to do with your 7BB-12BB stack. If you miss the flop, determine if you should bluff. If you hit the flop, deduce the best way to get value from your hand.
Opening all-in is bad, but pushing all-in when other chips have entered the pot can be good. Suppose you have AK in early position. Instead of raising to 3BB and risking playing a pot for your tournament life out of position, consider limp-reraising. Against aggressive players, limp reraise with all hands ahead of their distributions (stuff like AT and 66).
Also look for opportunities to limp and outmaneuver your foes postflop, especially if you have the potential to get involved in a pot against one or two highly predictable opponents postflop. Limping can be a very powerful play, despite what the tight-aggressive pundits might say.
Being a successful tournament poker player requires mastery of playing the 10BB-15BB stack. Become comfortable with lines of play besides opening all-in preflop, and your tournament results will improve dramatically. Additional tricks exist, some which are quite necessary for taking your tournament results to the next level, but everything covered here is part of the foundation necessary for solid 10BB-15BB play.
By Tony Guerrera
- Poker Expert
Article courtesy of Vegas Poker 24/7 rakeback program. Get 30% rakeback at Absolute Poker.
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