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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pillow Talk: Improving Your Performance on the Mattress

Volume II – Preparing for the Main Event

In 2009, the Mattress Poker Tour introduced a somewhat subtle change to the Main Event tournament structure. The change is rather small – neither the blind levels nor the length of the levels were changed. However, in the grand history of tournament structures being changed subtly so players don’t often notice the difference, the starting chip stack has been changed. However, in this case, the chip stack is increased – approximately 40% more chips – not the usual decrease associated with cost savings by host casinos.

This change in chips has some affects on the play of the tournament and therefore should be considered when approaching the overall tournament and each hand individually. Let’s review the stages of the tournament and how the different chip stack will affect the game. It might seem strange at first, but we will start at the middle of the tournament and then move forward and backward. Hopefully, it will become clear as we go through the discussion why we are doing this.

The middle stages of the tournament, actually remain pretty much unchanged. The quick levels and logarithmically raising blind structure used by the MPT once the blinds clear 50 100 render the relatively small increase in starting stack mostly inconsequential to play. This is because by this point players chip stack will vary greatly. This means that though individual stacks may remain out of the danger zone a little longer, the collective table will have stacks in the danger zone at about the same point in the tournament.

However, the polar ends will be effected. In the beginning, players have an extra 1000 chips to gamble with before reaching the danger zone. The move in zone is coming at about the same time anyway and having 2500 chips versus 3500 chips at that point isn’t going to make that much of a difference. Therefore, those extra 1000 chips can be used for a different purpose than a players first 1000 chips in a normal tournament starting with only 2500 chips. This must be adapted for.

Specifically, this is going to let the better postflop players take some more chances and see more flops in the early levels. Whereas a raise to 100 off of a 2500 stack may scare some players off – the extra 1000 chips allows the players to take more of a risk without dire consequences and also allows for a greater reward if they hit a big hand and can get it paid off. This play then makes for more interesting postflop play as there is also more room for bluffing. The end result is that much more care may be taken in postflop play in the early going as bigger hands and bigger bluffs are more likely.

The very end of the tournament may also change. With 3 or 4 players left, the distribution of the chips will be such that the extra chips in play (say 8000 if there are eight players) will not have that great an effect as they are very unlikely to be evenly distributed and someone will most definitely be on the hot seat as blinds clear 200 400 and beyond. However, when the game gets to heads up, now there are 8000 or so additional chips in play and that is significant if the stacks somewhat even out. That many more chips in play may allow for a little more play at the end of the tournament, with a few flops seen, rather than just preflop shoving.

Remember to take your larger stack into account and here’s hoping it helps you to go deep on the mattress.