by Alex Kravchenko
One of an important strategies in MTTs is varying your game. That implies that during similar situations with similar hands it's important to occasionally play a unique way. For example, if in case you have a large hand pre-flop and there is a raise in front of you, sometimes you re-raise and infrequently you simply call.
I think there are two major factors that affect your decision. First is your opinion a couple of raiser - it's important to be more willing to name against a loose aggressive player who's bluffing so much after the flop. Also this sort of player is raising with a large number of hands pre-flop, so it's harder for him to outdraw you. And after all, in case your image is solid, he's going to fold nearly always while you three-bet (things are different in case you are re-raising so much - for that reason could also be three-bet is the simpler option, since you can expect a four-bet re-steal attempt).
The second factor is: Who's sitting behind you? If there are a pair aggressive players there then you definitely can attempt to provoke them to squeeze when you call. That is one of the profitable situations in tournament NL Hold'em, when somebody puts a large three-bet raise on a bluff, then you definately move all in, forcing your opponent to fold. It means you'll be able to win an enormous amount of chips without showdown and without a chance of losing.
I wish to illustrate this idea with the examples of 2 hands which I played within the Bellagio Cup 15k Main Event in July, 2009. This tournament had a really perfect slow structure, so even within the late stages the play was deep enough. These two hands happened on day three. Within the first one the blinds were 2,000-4,000 (500 ante). Before the hand I had 155,000 chips, which was about 2/3 of the typical stack. We were nine-handed. The UTG player opened with 10,500 and that i picked up K-K in second position. The explanation why I just called is that my table image can be solid - and that applied to this actual table besides. I ASSUMED that if I re-raised on this position it might kill the entire possible action behind. So I called - after which the cut-off player put a large re-raise of 60,000. Everybody folded, including the unique raiser, and that i went all in for 155,000 and my opponent was priced to name together with his A-Q suited. Nothing bad happened and that i doubled up.
The second hand was played on the end of the similar day. With 27 within the money, there have been 37 left within the tournament. We were playing seven-handed, with blinds at 4,000-8,000 (1,000 ante). My stack was about 420,000, which was slightly above average. Jeff Madsen (250,000 chips) was sitting to my left, so on this hand I USED TO BE at the small blind and he was the massive blind. The second one position player raised as much as 20,000, everybody else folded to me within the small blind where I had A-K suited. The best way the raiser put his chips in gave me a sense that he was not strong, and that i thought that perhaps Jeff noticed it also. So I MADE UP MY MIND to call, hoping he would attempt to steal this pot with a re-raise. My plan was that he would raise about 75,000, then I MIGHT move all in and simply pick up about 100,000 in chips.
To my surprise he moved in with all his 250,000 chips, and the unique raiser folded. Now I knew that he had a hand, however the question was how strong? I USED TO BE thinking for approximately two minutes and made a choice. I wasn't really expecting myself to fold, but I THINK that if I'm taking my time to think in situations like this I AM NOT losing anything and am preventing myself from making bad instant decisions.
In this example the crucial question was whether your opponent can have A-Q or not. If yes (and i believed that was the case here), it's absolutely a choice. If no, then it is very border line, especially when you're on the subject of the cash spots. For the showdown Jeff showed A-Q, and that i won a 500,000 pot and finished the day with a cosy 700,000 stack.
So there are two good examples of playing big hands well. Unfortunately, the next day to come was unlucky for me - I made two wrong decisions and finished in 19th place.
Read More... [Source: PokerStarsBlog.com :: Alex Kravchenko]