MTTs – Size Matters

MTTs – Size Matters

Thursday, 1 March 2012

We all have our own way of playing multi-table tournaments (MTTs) and hardly anyone agrees on the strategy from start to finish. Whether it’s trying to get chips early by playing every hand or sitting pretty and waiting for monsters before investing any chips, there are numerous ways the pros will tell you to play to improve your results.

However, while there are many differing opinions on some of the tactics, what most will agree on is the must-have ability to adjust your play as your stack size changes relative to the blinds.

Changing Gears
Adapt your play to various stack sizes and change your style to suit the different stages of the tournament. This is a critical part of good tournament play. A number of successful players have written about this and one of the more popular and well regarded is Dan Harrington’s “zone method” and “M” calculation (where M denotes your stack size as a ratio in relation to the blinds and antes). Very briefly, it explains why you should change gears as the blinds go up and play more aggressively and use your fold equity more as M decreases in value. Harrington on Holdem is a must-read for any player who wants to take MTTs seriously and this requirement to change gears is a key difference between cash and tournament play.

Independent Chip Modelling (ICM) Approach
How do we monitor and measure our performance in tournaments in a way that helps us work out how to play optimally? We could use our cashes as an overall indicator of how we are doing, but this can often be badly skewed by variance.

Using ICM can be quite complicated and time-consuming, especially if you use it to check each call you make. What ICM does is attach a $ value to your chip stack based on the total prize fund. Very crudely, you can then calculate your expected value (EV) of tournament chips you expect to gain / lose from a play (cEV) and compare it to your EV of tournament equity or money you expect to gain / lose from a play ($EV). Lost? So am I. Should you wish to see more detail on how to calculate this there are numerous explanations online and in forums.

Tournament Scorecard Approach
If you favour a simpler and more convenient way of monitoring and grading your play, then look no further than the new BadBeat MTT scorecard. (Fig.1) If you signw up to, you will be able to benefit from the new MTT grading, as well as the revolutionary cash grading. In a similar way to the cash scorecard, you will now be able to have your tournament play analysed in full. Your play is broken down into key stages and you are given a mark from A to E in each one. Also included is a shorthanded section which scores your play at the very important final table. An overall score is then calculated so you know how well you’ve played. There is also an option to show off your scorecard to friends via Facebook or Twitter.

If you’re not happy with your score, then you can click on each section to view more in-depth analysis on where you can improve your play. For each stack size, you will be able to check if your Key Stats are all in order, if your aggression is high enough or even whether you’re 3-betting too infrequently. Where work is needed, there will be links to tutorials and videos that will help you improve that specific area of your game.

Get more help to improve your game at

Tags:, Phil Wise, strategy, coaching, staking