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Poker Strategy: Online Low Stakes MTTs - Inducing Mistakes & Hand Reading

Posted at 12:38 2010-11-12

From the previous article in the series we now have a solid understanding of stack sizes and what we can do with them. Many of our opponents at the low stakes levels don’t, and simply play hands on the first level, without considering what we may be holding. We can exploit this as we get deeper in tournaments and pick up many valuable chips.

We obviously want as many chips as possible the deeper we get, so we should look to play some hands in more unorthodox ways to accumulate a large stack. For example:

Hero: 240K, MP1: 220K, Blinds: 5K/10K/1K, we hold KK in the CO.
MP1 opens to 12.5K, we call, all others fold.
Pot: 49K; Flop T55 rainbow

If villain bets 39K here, we should just call, for two reasons. 1) The pot is now worth 127K, so any turn bet by villain in this spot will commit him to calling a turn shove from us. 2) Calling often looks weak to weak players, and they assume you would have raised if your hand was any good, so it induces them to fire again with weak hands like 66-99, AK, even random Broadway hands. So in this case, by simply calling preflop, then calling on the flop, you have put yourself in the position to win a lot more chips than you may have by simply making a standard re-raise earlier in the hand.

Now let’s look at an example where we are the preflop aggressor. Let’s assume the same stack sizes are identical to the previous example, only this time we are in MP1 with the smaller stack.

We hold TT in MP1 and open to 11,875; CO calls, all others fold.
Pot: 47,750; Flop T72 rainbow

Here we obviously have the deck crushed and need to look for ways to get more money in the pot, and more often than not we can induce our weaker opponents to do that for us. Rather than bet the traditional 26K into this pot, bet 12K and let the villain perceive your small bet as weakness. You will be surprised at how often you will get raised simply by manipulating your bet sizes. Let’s assume we bet 12K and villain raises us to 36K – then we must simply call. If we construct a possible range for a villain raising this flop, taking into account there aren’t even flush draws he can raise us with, it looks something like: AT, KT, QT, 89, JT or even A7. We can include 77, 22, JJ and QQ, but usually we can assume villains will flat call with these on the flop, or re-raise preflop. Even if we do include them, we have ~90% equity versus our opponent’s range, so we simply call his flop raise and now the pot is ~120K. The villain, who thinks only about his own holding, now assumes his hand is best because he didn’t get re-raised on the flop, so he will go ahead and barrel 75K or more into the ~120K pot, and we can simply check-raise him for all his chips.

This play works well if we want to check-raise all in with a stack size around 22BBs preflop.

Let’s use the same situation as example 2, only this time we hold Ah9h and open to 12,200 pre-flop, again getting one caller from the CO.
Pot: 48,400; Flop QhTh4c

Here I would be happy to bet something like 14K and hope to be raised on the flop. Rather than smooth call the flop here we should be check-shoving to put maximum pressure on our opponent to force a fold from hands that beat us. Even if our opponent simply calls our flop bet, we can look to check-shove the turn as we still have a decent amount of fold equity.

This also keeps us from getting into awkward spots with our stack size, for example: If we had just continuation bet a standard amount like 28K, and our opponent simply called our bet, the pot would be ~105K, and we would have ~180K in our stack. Basically any turn bet commits us to the hand, and a check-raise won’t work as well because we have lost a ton of our fold equity.

Always try and keep in mind that at low stakes, your opponents won’t be thinking at a similar level to you. They won’t consider probable ranges during important hands, and in most cases, won’t even hand read very well. For the most part they will simply consider the board, and how their own two cards relate to it, so manipulate them with your bet sizes, and make them play into your hands deep in tournaments to accumulate that big stack which can propel you to a win.

Once again any questions or suggestions can be forwarded to me via the PokerNetwork forums.

- Brett "Gtrain24" Donnelley

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Poker Strategy: Inducing mistakes and hand reading are two vital skills in multi-table tournaments Poker Strategy: Inducing mistakes and hand reading are two vital skills in multi-table tournaments

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