Tournaments on replay

A follow-on, thanks @1Warlock, to the discussion about bankroll limits on players.

My acceptance that a bankroll limit is not necessarily a good thing, and the arguments made by my opponents, leads to the conclusion that it is I who is lacking rather than the rules.

My proposition is this: My chips do have a value to ME. It may be, as I said in the linked thread, a time value and for some other people it may be an emotional value or some other value. It is, at best, very difficult to outplay a person (“old mate”) who values their chips at, relatively, zero.

To open the discussion, let’s consider the question that I posed to @AKFolds:

What do I do when it limps to me, on the button, and I’m holding Q6s, for example? I’m pretty happy to raise that most of the time but I know that old mate is going to re-raise a significant portion of the time and Q6s, in my mind, isn’t strong enough to 4-bet or call his 3-bet.

His 3-bet range is, quite likely, 60% or more of possible hands. I’m not a long way behind but he does have a 10% equity advantage. In a ring game, it’s entirely possible that I would, sometimes, 4-bet or shove over the top of him simply because I can reload and take him out with my KK at some stage. I just can’t do that in a tournament where the buy-in does have a real “value” to me.

Old mate, realistically, can re-raise with any two cards. I have to fold anything other than, say, QQ+ which I will shove re-raise with. He can fold and do the same the next time. I have one, and only one chance at this. If I’m playing even 1/100 bankroll, I am going to lose my money due to pure, dumb, luck.

I can, of course, limp in with everyone else and hope. I’m not going to hit 2 pair often enough to make that a winning strategy. With 3 people in the game and I’m holding top pair, I’m going to fold to any bet just as fast as I can push the button!

I just don’t see any way of using my “limited for whatever reason” bankroll to defeat an, effectively, infinite bankroll.

Over to you, experts, I’m out of ideas :slight_smile:



Maybe I didn’t read all you wrote, but if we talk tournament play w/out rebuys. All is equal in the tournament. Stop looking at rank like it is the boogy man. Just ignore it you will do better.


With regard to tournaments, I don’t have an educated response, since I don’t play them. But it is clear that building a chip stack early in tournaments is a key strategy for winning, which necessitates taking risks.

In cash games, there is the luxury of patience, which can also be applied in tournaments, but to a much lesser extent given the escalating blind structure. Still, playing tight against whales who you are unsure about is still possible at least for a few orbits, which should give you a baseline about their style of play.

I would suggest that limping in is almost always a bad strategy, and that you should adjust your bet-sizing instead. Of course, this depends on factors such as your position and the whale’s position, relative stack sizes, and tournament stage.

In most cases, if the whale is re-raising with any two cards out of position, then the advantage is yours, and you should happily 4-bet at the top of your range and call with the middle parts of your range. If these players are consistently making -EV plays against you, your strategy will be a winning strategy in the long-run, and it is the latter that you need to consider, rather than the few times you get busted out. The best poker players in the world bust out in real money tournaments due to bad beats. The key for you is only to enter tournaments for which you are properly bankrolled to enter, so that busting out on occasion will not be too damaging.

But I would definitely fold that Q6s, and would pull it out of my range altogether, even on the button. Playing that loose against a player who can afford to make bad calls is a -EV play on your part.


Just fold Q6s here. It’s a junky hand and can get you into trouble in a multiway pot.

Against a gambler splashing around with any two cards, your path to winning is to have the best hand at showdown most of the time. Choose starting hands that have the best chance of that - things like pocket pairs 88+, big aces AT+, etc - and then play them aggressively. Be patient, pick your spots and expect to get it in good most of the time.

In a tournament (once you pass any rebuy period) you only need to bust “old mate” once. The rest of his bankroll can’t help when he’s out of the tournament.


@AKFolds, @love2eattacos, many thanks for your replies.

In a tournament, yes, whatever bankroll the player has doesn’t help his immediate chip stack, obviously. The problem is that when the buy-in is meaningless, or very nearly so, getting knocked out is not the big deal to this villain that it is to me. He is, in effect, playing a freeroll.

I certainly could play just the top cards - that is only about 10% of hands though (88+, AT+, KQ, QJ) and I would have to play for stacks with that entire range. The problem with that strategy is that even the most stupid of players is going to notice that I very rarely enter a hand. It’s going to be difficult to ever get my stack in the middle against a worse hand.

I don’t have a strong argument for playing Q6s but I don’t see how playing 10% is a winning strategy either.

Let’s forget even the bankroll of the villain and say that we’re playing against any old maniac who 3 bets with a very wide range.

So, I’m in middle position with an 80BB stack, holding ATs, the table limps to me and I open the betting with 5BB. There’s 2 callers (also with ~ 80BB) and the villain, as I’ve seen him do in plenty of other hands, 3-bets 50BB.

Villain seems to always have great hands when there’s a raise before him (what a coincidence!) and he isn’t shy to 3-bet. Quite obviously he is doing more stealing with rubbish than playing with a decent hand. This tactic is working, though, because he is the big stack on the table - let’s put him at 150BB.

If I believe, as I do, that villain is playing very loose indeed, let’s say 50% of hands in all positions, then I certainly have an equity advantage here if we were heads up.

ATs (61.59%) vs 33+,A2s+,K2s+,Q2s+,J4s+,T6s+,96s+,86s+,76s,65s,A2o+,K5o+,Q7o+,J7o+,T7o+,98o (38.41%)

I can shove or I can fold. If I shove, there’s 3 players yet to act. The two players who called my raise quite obviously think they have decent hands. We’d have to think they have 22+, A5s+, KTs+, QJs. I wouldn’t be surprised if their range is wider than this but I don’t think that’s a stupid range to put them on and so they certainly have sufficient equity to call my shove.

I haven’t done the numbers but I feel that the maniac villain will have the right odds to call a shove with anything in his range.

I have no choice here! Folding is the only sensible option. The other two players should, I think, also fold with anything less than 88.

I can’t make the numbers work even if it was only me and the villain in the hand.

In a freeroll, sure, I’d be very happy to play ATs against a maniac. I’d probably raise 20BB first in with ATs in a freeroll!

When the buy-in has a value to me? When winning the tournament would make a noticeable difference to my bankroll? I just can’t justify playing this hand.

The only effective counter that I can think of is to just bleed my chips to the blinds and antes while I wait for JJ+ and hope to get moved to a different table.


These 2 comments say it all, does that make you the maniac or the smart one in the freeroll? Or because the 7.5k is about 1/6th of your current bankroll your playing with “scared money” and it’s changing your decisions. You need to decide what the right play is and be able to play it the same way in both games. As far as the maniacs style goes, tight aggressive beats loose aggressive and although it may be satisfying, it doesn’t have to be you that takes him out, let someone else take the risk. Survival is what mtt’s are all about. Good luck.


First and foremost, you’re over thinking it. If people are going nuts you can beat them by playing your standard game. Stop worrying about what they’re doing. Just play your game. If you bust, you bust. If they’re bad, then most of the time it will be them who is busting.

Having said that, to deal with the specific issue of players who 3-bet too wide, the strategy to combat this is to open slightly less wide, and 4-bet a bit wider. Don’t over adjust though.You need to play your game and not panic at what others are doing.

To address a couple of the specific examples raised. What do you mean by “limps to me”? If it folds to you on the button then a raise is fine. If there’s several limpers, don’t raise Q6s. It’s not good enough. Call if the blinds are passive. Fold if they’re aggressive. If you don’t know, then either is fine. It’s not that big a mistake either way.

With the ATs. If you raise to 5BB and your opponent raised to 50BB it’s generally a fold. 10x the bet is huge. ATs isn’t strong enough when 80BB deep, as stated. If they’re genuinely going nuts on loads of hands then just shove.


My thanks for the comments and my apologies for not responding sooner.

@St33lo yes, in the freeroll, I would certainly be the maniac. That’s fine because I don’t particularly care about the game. If I can get a big stack early then I’ll tighten up and play more sensible.

This, really, is the root of my question. Whether it’s me in a freeroll or someone who plays 7.5k the same as I would play a freeroll, how do we counter this?

When the villain is still to play, I can’t play any form of aggressive with most hands simply because I know that he’s going to massively overbet preflop and I will have to fold. I’m obviously just going to shove with JJ+ but that’s not many hands to play and the villain will surely notice that I’m just sitting there folding, get a good hand and raise. His obvious response to that is to just fold his rubbish on the very rare occasion that I do put money in.

I don’t play with “scared money”. Once I’m in, that’s it, the chips are gone no matter what I do. I have no expectation of even making the prize levels every time.

@Darbs let’s imagine that I’m on the button and everyone limps. That is “it limps to me”.

Thanks for this advice. It seems obvious now that you’ve put it in writing for me! This is probably why I’m still playing on the baby tables :grin:

Your comments regarding ATs are well taken and thank you for that. I can’t find the words to describe my thoughts but, I think, you have changed quite a lot of my thinking.

To be honest, I haven’t read every single post carefully in this thread, but I agree with the previous responses and have a general comment and a more specific one.

Generally, even with real money, the value people place on the game or their chips is going to differ. You can sit at a casino with $2500 in front of you and other people may splash around like it’s lint in their pocket. You have to be prepared to play the best way to beat the game in front of you. The relative value of the chips shouldn’t matter, but you can use it to inform your decisions (i.e., if someone is playing fast and loose, tighten up and bust them).

More specifically, you do need to tighten up if people are going to 3-bet you every single time, but maybe not as much as you think. If someone is going to 3-bet you 75% of the time, that means they are doing it with garbage hands. I would 4-bet shove on this person with any pocket pair or Ax (if I am certain that is what they are doing). You might need to throw away marginal hands (Q6s is very marginal to begin with and even QTs is marginal because you want to maximize top pair potential in situations like this by having pocket pairs, Ax, and maybe even Kx). Yes, people playing wildly aggressive will increase the variance for you (you will bust out plenty of times on shoves where you have a massive equity advantage), but in the long run you can develop a big edge on these players. They are exposing a huge portion of their stack with marginal hands.

Edit: on the other side of the coin, when I play tournaments here I may start shoving as the stacks get shorter (<=20bbs), and people here will react like I am a bingo donkey. If they are going to limp and inflate the pot over 10% of my stack then it can make a lot of sense to get it in preflop rather than taking the risk of seeing a flop. Plus, people get tilted and will call with hands that I have crushed. You won’t find me shoving like this with 87o garbage, but shoving can be a viable strategy if the table is passive and full of limpers. Also, this is different from 3-betting over someone else’s raise.