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How to Win MTTs with Value Bets, Value Shoves, The Squeeze Play, and the Stop & Go

Thursday, December 9, 2010
By Melodyme
PS Members

We all aspire to be winning poker players in MMT's (Multi-table tournaments) but how do we do it? In this blog I will introduce the following key, important component to winning a MTT: Value Bet, Value Shove, The Squeeze Play and the ever mind-boggling (joking here) The Stop & Go along with their definitions. I will also describe in what stage of tournaments these actions are used and why they are effective. These are just a few of many tools to a successful MTT. There are too many to get into and it would be a novel rather than a blog if I were to cover all the areas.

When you're in the early stages of a Multi Table Tournament (MTT), play top hands only AK, AQ, High Suited Connectors, Pocket Pairs. You'll see a lot of basic ABC poker playing here. You can use this stage to take notes of the other players. You don't really have to worry about stealing blinds at this stage it isn't worth it. There isn't enough value yet at this stage.

Middle stage MTT's is where it's at. This is where all the action happens. This is where you need to focus on building your stack. Be aggressive here. Steal the antes/blinds and as many pots as possible and C-bet often.

Middle Stage MTT Strategy: Value Shove and Squeeze Play

Value shove:  A Value Shove is when you over bet the pot for value it tends to involve a commitment of shoving your stack all-in. Value shoving is used because of the value that is created from players calling you. Value shoving can be profitable when you're drawing for a flush/straight or when you hold the best hand and want to make it look like a bluff to get called.

Squeeze play: A bluff re-raise in no limit hold'em with marginal or poor cards, after another player or players have already called the original raise. The goal is to bluff everyone out of the hand and steal the bets. Assuming a standard raise of 3-4 big blinds, a Squeeze bet is about 20 big blinds. When a player raises, a second calls and a third re-raises to squeeze the others out of the pot. Pressure is placed on the original raiser, because he either has to call or raise with 2 players left to act. If she folds, the second player either has to call or (what I like to do here) re-raise against the third player who showed a lot of strength.

Bets on the river tend to be value bets rather than bluffs. In order for a bet for value to be correct, a player must have a positive expectation that is, she will win more than one bet for every bet he puts in the pot. What this means then, is you should only bet the river when you feel like you have the best hand in the game. Be concerned if a tight player is calling you down & there are no apparent draws on the table, because it means they most likely hold top pair. When a loose player has called you down, chances are he has a weak hand, in most cases anyway, but not always.

Avoid trapping yourself. A check on the river is always a safe play if you are last to act. Many times, your opponents will be holding busted draws on the river, so you won't be able to extract value from opponents who were going to fold anyways. If you are willing to call someone's bet on the river, you may as well bet the amount you would be willing to call and put them to the decision instead against certain opponents.

The idea of calling down a pot when you know you're beat is amazing to me. If you stand the chance of getting knocked out a tournament and are still in a good enough position to not get blinded out in the next few hands, you need to fold hands when you think you are beat, regardless of how many chips you've already put in the pot. The only thing that pot committed means is the pot odds of your draw vs the amount in the pot.

The aggressive action and squeeze plays from the middle stages are reduced by the later stages of a poker tournament. Play the bubble. Here you will be seeing a lot of Stop & Go's.

Stop & Go's: The stop and go play is where you have a hand that you intend on moving all-in with. However, you call an opponent's bet before the flop instead of pushing, with the intention of pushing all-in on the flop instead. A large number of small and mid-stack players will be trying to make the money. Take advantage of these players by raising them all-in when they're on the blinds. They'll tend to only call with premium hands, which make them a perfect target to prey on.

There's limited post-flop action at the final table. Most the action occurs pre-flop. Also, when you find yourself at the final table very often you'll be shorthanded. So open yourself to play and raise pre-flop with a much higher range of hand range including suited connectors, and wired suited connectors like 9-J, 8-10 and suited aces like A-3, A-7 etc. Squeeze playing, value betting/shoving, Stop & Go's are ideal tools in becoming a better, more profitable multi-table tournament player in the long run. Remember to also avoid those common poker traps. Which I will save for discussion another time.

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