Top 5 Preflop Tips for Deep Stacks in MTTs

mtt ranges deep stacked

5 minutes

Last Updated: May 9, 2024

Figuring out what hands to get involved with is one of the very first things you need to learn when it comes to any form of poker. Your selection of hands before the flop will have a profound influence on everything that happens on later streets.

This is where our very handy and completely free preflop poker charts tool comes in. It gives you full flexibility to choose the game type (tournaments, 6-max, and 9-max cash games) and stack depths from 15 to 100 big blinds.

To demonstrate how useful this tool is, here’s five tips for constructing your MTT preflop ranges when playing deep-stacked (100 big blinds deep).

1. Get Involved with Pocket Pairs from UTG

Pocket pairs are extremely powerful during the early stages of tournaments when you have 100+ big blinds in your stack. These hands have the potential of flopping sets and stacking players who overplay their big overpairs or top-pair type of hands.

As you can see, all pocket pairs down to 55 are mandatory opens from UTG. You can fold your smallest pocket pairs some portion of the time (about 50%). When deciding whether to get involved with these hands, consider table dynamics and how likely you are to face a 3-bet.

mtt ranges deep stacked utg

What’s interesting is that when you do face a 3-bet, these small pocket pairs are calling 100% of the time, regardless of where the 3-bet is coming from. The middle section of your pockets (fives through nines) will balance between calling and folding.

2. Open Wide on the Button

When you’re 100+ big blinds deep, and the action folds to you on the button, you should be raising with over half of your range (around 54%). As you can see, the hands you want to release are largely disjointed off-suite holdings and some of the worst suited holdings, like 92s.

The reasoning here is quite straightforward. Since you’ll have a position for the rest of the hand and the stack-to-pot ratio is big, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to win pots, either by making a strong poker hand or by forcing opponents to fold on boards that aren’t favorable to them.

When faced with a big blind 3-bet, we’ll be folding the bottom 50% of our opening range and continuing with the rest. Our default action is to call, with only 8.1% 3-bets with the strongest of holdings and a few hands containing blockers, like AJo, ATo, and KTo.

deep stack tournament button ranges

Notice how all the 3-bet hands that we’d dub as “bluffs” are of the off-suite variety. This is because suited hands play much better after the flop, so calling in position makes much more sense than reopening the action and potentially having to fold if the big blind continues with aggression.

3. Don’t Give Up on Your Big Blind

One of the biggest mistakes people make in tournaments is failing to properly defend their big blind against raises, especially when deep-stacked.

Against a standard open these days, i.e. 2-2.5x, you should be defending around 75% of all hands if that open is coming from the late position, especially button. Looking at how wide the button opening range is and given the great price we’re getting, this only makes sense.

What’s more, we should be 3-betting with around 16% of the range, which is way more than most players do, including some solid tournament players. 

The 3-betting range here is a mix of very strong hands, some small suited aces, and suited connectors. The idea behind constructing it this way is to have coverage across a wide variety of boards, making it difficult for the opponent to exploit our 3-bets.

4. Go After Late Position Opens on the Button

The button is always the most powerful position at the table, but the power of position increases as stacks get deeper. With more chips to play for across multiple streets, that positional advantage really comes through.

This is why you shouldn’t be shy about attacking late position opens on a button with a reasonable 3-betting range that looks like this:

btn vs cutoff deepstacked mtts

Apart from our strongest hands, the button 3-betting range against the cutoff includes all suited aces, a good portion of suited kings, and off-suite aces down to A9.

These hands provide a combination of properties that we want in our range, including blockers and good playability, with possibility of flopping strong hands and big draws that allow us to put a lot of pressure on the opponent.

5. Keep Your Small Blind Range Narrow

Unlike when in the big blind, you’ll want to keep your small blind fairly narrow when playing deep, folding over 70% of the hands. You are not closing the action, and by calling, you’re incentivizing the big blind to get involved, creating scenarios where you’ll be at a big disadvantage.

Thus, you should only be playing about 27% of your entire range from the small blind, and when entering pots, your preferred action should be to 3-bet. There is a small portion of hands that you’ll be calling with, but 3-bet or fold are your default actions.

small blind facing a raise in mtts

With this approach, you’re accomplishing a couple of things. You’re making it harder for the big blind to get involved, as they’re now not closing the action and aren’t getting the great pot odds. Additionally, you’re allowing yourself to win the pot on the spot, saving yourself complicated situations on future streets.

The deeper you are, the costlier your mistakes become, and with the small blind being the hardest position to play from, you really want to avoid the guessing game against the button’s wide range of hands after the flop.

Hopefully, you’ll find tips in this article useful for your early tournament game, but our preflop charts have much more to offer. Check them out yourself and start shaping up your preflop game today, for free!

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