I think that tournament play is very different from ring games and does require much more dynamic ranges.
In tournament play you are always going to be short stacked except at the start of tournaments, and at the start of tournaments players will think nothing of calling off 10 BB raises with the most speculative of hands, because in tournament play the most important number is not necessarily the number of blinds, but the percentage of your stack.
Another important number in tournaments is what your stack would look like if doubled. If you can double your way into the top ten in a 30 player tournament, you are still live, but as you fall below that number, increasingly less so and you become a target for table bullies who can easily back off if you turn nasty on them when you get a hand. If you have enough chips to see plenty of flops, you will have a much greater chance of flopping monsters and stacking people.
In the early rounds of a tournament you might be on the button and see an early raiser to 10BB and then a call, and you are sitting there with 98s. Do you call? If you win the pot, you could have a chance to treble up and take the tournament lead, and with a bit of luck both the callers ahead of you will have aces and be blocking each other. Let’s say the tournament gives you 5000 chips to start, then that call is only 4% of your stack, so yes, you need to call.
Later in tournaments as the blinds escalate, it becomes more and more necessary to play hands or get blinded , and above all what you look for is some kind of high-card strength.
My rule for late tournament play is to raise preflop and take down the blinds as much as possible, and to call a preflop raise as little as possible. Maybe just with AA, KK, QQ and AKs if the raiser has a larger stack than me, but expanding the range for a stack less than half the size of yours.
Again say UTG raises and your are in the button. With what hands are you willing to call off your whole stack if BB shoves. If your hand is that good, then a better play is to shove/reraise and try to get UTG to back off, or hope that he has AK or AQ and whiffs.
And then there is the whole question of preflop bluffs.
If you raise preflop in a tournament you can win three main ways:
- Everyone fold and you take the blinds.
- You get at least one caller and the flop goes your way. You have AK and you get an AK on the flop. Nice. Opponents are scared by this flop and check to you. You bet, they fold.
- The flop misses you, opponent checks to you, probably having missed (or is he slow playing?) and you bet (bluff) and take down the pot.
I am leaving out post flop play here, because late in tournaments it is difficult to play post flop at all.
But basically, leaving aside ranges for a moment, there are two kinds of hands you can open with.
AK, for example, has high card strength. Not only can it make top pair top kicker about 1/3 of the time, but the real strength is that if both players whiff and there is no pocket pair, then AK is still ahead and opponent will have to hit a draw on later streets to win the pot. AK also dominates all hole cards except for pocket pairs.
When you are playing in tournaments you need to be very wary about playing dominated hands like KQ , KJ, and KT. They can win you a lot of pots, but they can lose some huge pots when they make second best hand. KJ is a decent hand until it comes up againt AJ, in which case it could lose you a lot of chips.
The second type is the drawing hand. As is well known hands like JT, QJ, QT, J9, T9, T8 make the most straights and the most nut straights. If they are suited, then they also have flush potential, but will rarely make the nut flush.
All straights require a T or a 5, so with these hands you need to see a T on the flop or in your hand, otherwise you might as well fold unless you have hit a pair or two.
With these drawing hands, you can have AK, AQ in trouble if the flop comes medium or low or ragged and probably want to at least see a turn card if you have one pair and three to a flush and there could be as many as 19 cards out of 47 that could improve your hand on the turn giving you trips, two pairs, or an open ended straight draw, or a flush draw on the river,
If you hit one of those cards, then a stiff bet or semi-bluff on the turn is probably going to make AK or AQ fold as they may think that you have already made a flush or straight and that they would be drawing dead with two overcards.
I would be a bit more reluctant to continue with these hands after the flop if there is no T in your hand or the flop, as that could open the door to a straight draw for an opponent with something like AT, KT, or QT.
So dynamic ranges in tournaments–yes. And sometimes you are just going to have to raise from late position or the blinds with nothing at all if you sense weakness in opponents just because taking down a set of blinds may buy you time for another round and a chance to get some better cards.
All in all, in tournament I prefer to avoid dominated hands and high-low hands even if they are in the top 5% or 10% or to play them extremely warily and fold them to three-bets.
Ring games, I agree, are a completely different card game.