Importance of Mixed MTT Poker Strategies
Moving forward, Nick explains the importance of using mixed strategies in your overall game plan. With the mixed approach, the important thing to understand is that, if there are two options available, they are usually very close to each other in terms of EV. So, we can actually play max EV poker with a mixed strategy. At the same time, by using this approach, it is much harder for our opponents to exploit our tendencies.
The idea is to build strategies that allow us to play more hands. If we can play more hands in the most +EV way, it is going to increase our win rate. Similar applies to frequencies for bluffing and value bets as we want to have good board coverage, especially in a blind vs. blind situations.
The general principle of building these mixed strategies is to prevent our opponents from doing work on the side and developing simple counter-strategies against our plays, especially plays such as squeezes and similar. By doing this, players have a hard time adjusting because they can’t lower our EV by playing tighter or looser. The mixed strategy allows us to play more hands and also expands our ranges in 3-bet spots, for example, as we’ll have some hands that would be in our calling range (when using pure poker tournaments strategy) included in the 3-bet range at a certain frequency.
Naturally, learning and playing these mixed MTT poker strategies is harder than implementing pure, more straightforward approach. On the other hand, that’s exactly what makes them more effective and gives us an edge over the field as this approach works very well even against experienced and competent players.
15 – 25 Big Blind RFI and Defense Strategies
After the initial explanation of how ranges are built and how mixed strategy is designed, the Winning Poker Tournaments course continues with several videos explaining two important concepts – RFI (Raise First In) and big blind defense strategies. These concepts are analyzed in detail with various charts and examples and every video addresses a particular stack depth (the number of big blinds)
The first few videos deal with ranges at 15 and 25 big blind depth. Nick Petrangelo basically goes through the sheet we’ve mentioned in the introduction and then goes on to explain why and how these strategies can be applied in actual poker tournament situations.
For the 15 RFI big blind spots, Nick first breaks down the preflop raise sheet, which covers situations where you want to go with either a min-raise or jam. Of course, the range is constructed according to the position and giving some consideration to tendencies of other players at your table, although the latter doesn’t come too much into play, especially when playing from early positions.
Another video is dedicated to alternate strategies at this stack depth, where you deviate from these standard plays and introduce more min-raises and even limps into your play instead of open shoving. Petrangelo suggests starting introducing these alternative plays only in later positions (highjack or better) as we don’t have to deal with as many players behind us. This strategy is more complicated and it requires more adjustments with regards to your opponents’ tendencies. When someone jams over your min-raise with his poker hands, you don’t have a predefined, set decision when to call off.
The final section on the 15bb play covers defend situations, i.e. when and how to defend against opens. The strategy supposes players are opening at 2x, which is pretty standard sizing against shorter stacks. Against early position raises, we’re going to be just calling with a fairly wide range, including some hands as good as AQ. Of course, against players who open really wide, there is room for occasional shoves with hands containing blockers.
Like with the RFI, this video breaks down big blind situations based on the position of the initial raiser, our hand range, and, to some degree, our read or stats we have on the opener. Although the video is only 18 minutes long and the chart is pretty self-explanatory, Nick does a pretty good job explaining the reasoning behind these various adjustments versus different players.
50bb – 100bb Big Blind Defense Strategies
The remaining four videos in this section deal with big blind defense at two stack depths, namely 50 big blind effective and 100 big blind effective. Once again, we’re dealing with Pio solver ranges presented in the introduction and Nick's Petrangelo detailed explanation of why these ranges make sense and how they achieve results we want to achieve.
At 50 big blinds, we’re deep enough to mix in a lot of calls as well as some 3-bet bluffs against early position ranges to balance for our value hands. In general, our 3-betting range against EP is tight and we have a decent spread of our bluffs, covering various types of boards. With stacks being deeper, 3-betting becomes trickier as there are more things to consider, such as equity realization, how often our opponent will 4-bet, etc.
Our poker tournaments strategy starts to change as we’re facing opens from later positions, mixing in more 3-bets and adding some more calls with strong hands like AQs. Nick goes to explain why these adjustments make sense with regards to opening ranges of players entering from later positions. Of course, with the position of the original raiser getting closer to the button, our 3-betting range becomes even wider, especially to include some blocker hands as well as some hands that make solid top pairs, good straight draws, and similar.
The second two videos on the big blind defense deal with the effective stack size of 100 big blinds. With this stack depth, we can start including some wider 3-bets against EP raisers even with some lower, connected cards as these aren’t covered by the raiser’s range. Of course, these are mixed in at a fairly low frequency as they usually play pretty well as just calls.
One point that Petrangelo tries to bring home is that even at this stack depth, we shouldn’t be too concerned about getting our stacks in the middle with the very top of our range, such as AKs, Kings, and, of course, Aces. At the same time, while we can defend pretty wide against normal-sized (2.5x) opens, there is a particular range of hands we want to avoid. These are hands that are likely dominated, such as suited Kings and Queens with weak kickers and small off-suite connectors.
As we move to playing against raises coming from the middle position, we can defend a little bit wider, although we should still avoid small, unsuited connectors. We’re also expanding our 3-betting range with suited paint cards, some of the better unsuited Aces and smaller suited Aces. These hands pretty well and can also fold some of the hands that actually dominate us.
The second video covering this particular topic continues with defends against later positions, i.e. hijack, cutoff, and button. Nick Petrangelo puts a lot of emphasis on the original opening range from these positions and how this relates to our defending and 3-betting range. What we want to achieve here is define the opening range from these positions, identify the unsuited portion of that range (which is more likely to fold to our 3-bets), and target that using the portion of our range that is slightly weaker so we can use it to fold those unsuited hands that could be dominated.
Poker Tournaments Strategy: Postflop Play
The second main segment of Winning Poker Tournaments course deals with the postflop play and it is broken down into several main areas, namely:
- C-betting Ace high boards (three videos)
- C-betting dynamic and wet boards
- Playing monotone and paired boards
- C-betting turn (two videos)
- Playing vs. continuation bet (two videos)
- Check-raising from the BB (two videos)
- Turn probes (two videos)
- Playing single raised pots out of position (three videos)
- 3-bet pots (three videos)
- Blind vs. blind (two videos)
Clearly, this segment is more extensive and more detailed than the preflop section, primarily because there are many more complicated situations to consider. Like in the first part, though, Nick Petrangelo continues going through the videos explaining various scenarios relying on the Pio solver analysis and offers plenty of suggestions.
C-betting fundamentals for poker tournaments
Several videos in this segment deal with the continuation bet. Broken down into segments described above, these videos address things such as the global c-bet percentage, how to pick correct continuation betting ranges, recognizing small nuances on boards that may look very similar at a first glance, etc.
Explanations are presented in the manner that you’ve probably become accustomed to by this point in the course. Petrangelo presents decision trees for different situations created in Pio Solver. Of course, the c-betting strategy is closely connected to the defense ranges as it helps define proper c-bet ranges on various board textures.
Petrangelo takes a look into different general board textures, such as Ace high boards, dynamic boards where there are different possibilities, and monotone and paired boards. All of these represent a particular set of scenarios that we face all the time when playing tournaments and Nick tries to break down different situations and appropriate c-bet sizes depending on the particularities of the board.
Like everything else in this course, explanations provided here are anything but shallow. Videos go at length to explain how certain monotone or paired boards, for example, may seem the same, but there are actually significant differences depending on the particular cards and perceived ranges, which dictate our actions in the hand, especially with regards to sizing.
More on Continuation Bet in MTT Poker
A lot of time and space in the course is given to the continuation bet and different nuances because this is such a big part of your overall poker tournament strategy. After going through fundamentals, explaining all the different spots in detail, Nick Petrangelo continues with four more videos addressing the continuation bet on the turn and, finally, how to play facing the c-bet.
Two videos on turn continuation bet are actually quite extensive, which is excellent if you’re looking to improve that particular part of your game. In certain spots, we are faced with a check-call from the big blind and we need to be able to figure out what kind of turn cards are good to continue barreling.
Nick explains properties of turn cards we’re looking for here, i.e. cards that are pretty neutral and unlikely to improve either range. Depending on the flop texture, these card properties can vary greatly, so he goes on to explain many different scenarios using, once again, Pio solver charts to define favorable spots and proper sizings.
The second two videos deal with situations where we’re the one facing the continuation bet and how to proceed on the flop, turn, and what to do once the turn goes check-check. As expected, there are several board examples Petrangelo uses to explain our continuing ranges and the best strategy, i.e. check-call vs. check-raise, etc.
The analysis goes deep into our equity on particular boards and how our ranges stack up against our opponent’s ranges. These explanations can seem a bit dry and it will require some effort to really stay focused and keep up with what Nick is explaining. It is probably a good idea with these and other videos to take them in slowly instead of trying to run through the course as quickly as possible.
Turn probes in MTT's
Two videos in this section of the Winning Poker Tournaments course deal with the situations where a hand goes check-check on the flop and try to explain favorable situations where we want to take initiative on the turn from the big blind and fire a bet out of the position.
In these situations, it is important to look into the board texture and then define the opponent’s range to figure out how many strong hands are in that range. Like with other sections, Petrangelo brings up a number of different boards and scenarios and continues to explain how our range from the big blind does on these different boards and when our turn probes have positive EV.
Single-raised and 3-bet Pots
The next three videos deal with single-raised pots when playing out of position. Since the population tendency seems to be on the side of c-betting too much, it is important to figure out the equilibrium in these pots.
In these videos, Petrangelo continues to construct preflop ranges, talks about continuation betting frequencies, and types of reactions to expect from players in the position.