In a multi table poker tournament your options will decrease as your stack melts

ulti table poker tournament

A multi table poker tournament is all about survival

To survive you need to master 2 dimensions which are time and the size of your stack. You need to anticipate on the move you will have to deploy (depending on the size of your task) to take the correct risks at the right time.

Traditionnally in a multi table poker tournament where late registrations are not allowed (or after closure of late registrations) you will notice that 2/3 of participants bust over the first 5 levels before the MTT reaches a stabilization phase. Your target is to reach this phase with 30-40BB. Considering blinds increase at each level…it will not be an easy task and you will need to observe but also be active. 30 to 40BB is enough because this threshold usually corresponds to the average stack in the stabilization phase. Meaning most players will be below this limit. The average MTT stack reflects the MTT level of agression. The higher the average is the looser the players. If at your table the average stack is below the MTT average it means that players at your table are more tight and you will need to adapt your game accordingly quickly to benefit from it (bluff and steal) because you can change table at any moment.

30-40BB is a target not a necessity. But for sure you cannot reach the stabilization phase with a stack that would lead you to applying a push or fold strategy or you will be in great danger.

During the first 5 levels, if you feel like you do not have an edge at the table, play TAG and wait for the point in time where the post flop game (more complex) will be less developed. At the same time you should try to put pressure on the fish, the weak tight, the loose passive and the scared money players.

Throughout the stabilization phase you should fight to remain in the 3-bets zone and fight against blind erosion and here again a lot of activity is requested to suceed doing so. You will face 3 type of players : short stacks (10-12BB), cheapleaders and above 40B stacks and average stacks (15-40BB).

If you are above 40BB during this phase do not think that you have  »to do the work » and try to get someone out as soon as you can. Your target is to grow your stack and your interest is to maintain short stacks under pressure (and not allow them or an average stack to double up and then step on your land).

Standard preflop raise in an MTT is 3BB and it drops to 2,5BB as soon as antes appear.

How do engagement zones evolve depending on the game type you are playing?

In an MTT without antes :

. 4-bets zone is above 70BB

. 3-bets zone is between 30 and 70BB

. Re-steals zone is between 11 and 30BB

. Push or fold zone is below 11BB

In an MTT with antes :

. 4-bets zone is above 60BB

. 3-bets zone is between 25 and 60BB

. Re-steals zone is between 10 and 25BB (between 15BB and 25BB your margin to manoeuver is globally the same – sure, you can try a few steals with 25BB but if you get called you will be committed…)

. Push or fold zone is below 10BB

Refer to the Power Number when you are short stack in an MTT

The Power Number or how to play short stack in an MTT in early or middle stage?

Power number

You are playing an MTT and are off to a bad start, the field is still big and with only 11BB left you are starting to lose hope. Players at the table are agressive and prevent you to find a nice spot. Blinds and antes are eating up what remains of your stack. Next time everyone folds before you are determined to go all-in preflop with any decent hand. The occasion happens and you shove your stack with T7 suited. You face a snap call from the big blind which reveals KK…You are out and keep wondering if you made the right move or not, if you should have waited for another hand. Where you right to risk your tournament at this stage? Lets find out.
The power number is a concept that allows you to play a game which is mathematically unsuable by your opponents. The short stack status is so specific and so « theorytically straight forward » that all spots have been studied and assessed and synthetized in this model.
First you need to calculate your M-factor. M equals the number of rounds you can survive in a situation where you would decide to stop playing any hand (factoring in SB, BB and antes if they do apply). Hence M = your stack / CPR (or cost per round). M = your stack / (SB + BB + number of players at the table x antes). Let’s assume our M is 4,5.
If your 3 < M < 8 the power number model enables you to determine if your hand is strong enough to sustain a profitable all-in move (assuming that all players before you have folded).
After having calculated your M you need to calculate your power number at « equilibrium », the PNe meaning the minimal PN you need to justify an all-in.
PNe = M x number of players to speak.
Last you need to refer to the below table which provides the PN of all starting hands. If the PN of your starting hand is superior to the PNe you can go all-in and will be profitable in the long run. If PN < PNe you have to fold.
Going all-in with T7s was the right call.
Remember this is a statistical model (very robust) but it assumes that all players at the table play in an optimal manner (which is rarely true). You might need to adapt it slightly depending on your image at the table and your opponents profile.
NB: this model loses its interest as you get closer to the money (due to the change in the distribution of the prizepool). You will then use the Independent Chip Model (ICM) since too many parameters need to be taken into account when reaching the bubble.

How to play the bubble in a poker NLH MTT?







  • To play the bubble efficiently, you need to anticipate and do your best to build your stack before that. At the end of a tournament a big stack which raises to 2,5 BB is a lot more scary than a short stack which goes all in with just 10BB.
  • Never limp (whatever the position), never, never. If you want to play the hand raise or get out of it.
  • Do not pay an all-in with A10 or44. A lot of players at the bubble have only one strategy which consists in waiting for a big hand top go all-in. It is much more profitable to steal 2 or 3 small pots than playing a coin flip.
  • Before the bubble try to understand who is playing scared money and who does not defend its blind : you will be targeting him with your stealing attempts but do not always steal from the button (not to make too obvious and to face a re-raise all in from a player you will have tickled a bit too much).
  • Make a difference between those who play to win (and which are quite active at the table) like you! and the other who would rather die slowly. You just have to bend down to collect part of their stack.
  • Figth back blind stealing attempts to make it clear to the player on your right that he should target someone else
  • Post flop, use your fold equity (if you have one) to play your straight draws more agressively than you were used to. Calibrate the size of your raise to always be the one that will push all-in. You want to be the one going all-in first if you need to rather than calling an all-in
  • Depending on the situation, if you are small stack (<10 BB) focus your attacks on middle sized stacks (especially those which do not defend their blinds and never raise). If you are middle stack (between 12 and 20BB) its a good moment to try a few squeeze (re-raise all in with a weaker hand like suited connectors to try to steal the pot preflop). If you are big stake you should be very agressive with middle size stacks avoiding to find yourself committed in a big pot (avoid big and small stacks).

What to do in a multi table tournament when your stack is above 25 big blinds?

In a multi table tournament above 25BB you should see quite a lot of flops while measuring your invesment

Multi table tournament






Blinds represent a small (or very small) % of your stack. You should use this phase in a multi table tournament to prepare the future : your criteria is the position, if the investment is not superior to 2 BB always go and see the flop, always complete your SB, play all possible connectors (even low ones like 34s).

If you do not improve your hand with the flop (or if pot odds are not favorable when compared to the probability of improving your hands) you should fold.

Between 160 and 250 BB :

- when opening you will rarely face 3-bets and should open up your game

- you should lower your 3-bet rate especially out of position

- you should consider 4-bets in bluff

- 5-bet bluff are too risky

Between 70 and 160 BB :

- when opening beware of 3-bets and play tight

- your rate of 3-bets should rocket

- punish 4-bet lights by a 5-bet all in

Between 25 and 70 BB :

- when opening you will rarely face 3-bets and should open up your game

- beware of 4-bets, opt for 3-bet cautiously

- punish 3-bet lights by a 4-bet all in

At these levels, big hands (AA, KK, QQ) deserve big pots and you should raise with these not asking yourself too many questions.

Regarding spectulative hands (e.g J10s) i am not a big fan of raising with these at the early levels of a multi table tournament. Should you miss the flop 2 or 3 times you will have lost a reasonnable number of chips early in the tournament. Contrary to the above, you do not hold a monster (or need to isolate players at the table to protect your hand) and you do not want to build a pot so big that you will not be able to let i go. You should play those hands when you have the position (by calling for instance a previous raise). Try to target nits or passive players when doinf so

What to do in a multi table tournament when your stack falls below 25 big blinds?

Below 25 BB in multi table tournament the preflop game becomes critical

multi table tournament






Entering a hand requires a higher investment. Preflop raises become decisive when you reached this stage in a multi table tournament. 50% of the time the hand will be won before seing the flop. Limit your range to pairs or broadways. You should also reraise as soon as you suspect having a decent advantage.

Between 10 and 25 BB :

  • When opening beware of 3-bets, play tight
  • Resteal (3-bet all in) is highly profitable
  • Try with average hands to deter limpers who try to value their speculative hands by raising up to 3,5 or 4 times the BB (if a limper only committed 5% or less of his stack preflop it is interesting for him to go and see the flop, but above 10% this becomes EV-)

Below 10BB : 

  • When opening steal blinds by raising all-in
  • Adopt a push or fold strategy
  • Open all-in but do not raise all-in a previous opening


Poker global strategy and objectives in multi table tournament








You want to win tournaments when they only have just started? This lack of patience leads to bad decision making and you will too often find yourself in tricky spots. One key point when playing a multi table tournament is the spirit that you have the table : you should focus on all decisions, whatever the stake, the stage you reached in the tournament, the size of the pot. Your objective should be to make the best possible decision at any point in time and not think about the rest (ITM, bubble…). To meet success your objective should not be to win but to play a good poker, taking it one hand at a time.


  • Aim to reach an ITM between 5% and 15%
  • Good multi table tournament players usually have an ITM close to 10%
  • Of course you will need within that to finish among the final table at least twice over a hundred attempts


Never risk more than 1% of your bankroll (if you allocate 200€ to play poker in MMT, do not enter above 2€ buy-in multi table tournaments except if you are certain to have an edge at that limit)


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3-bet and open raise spots in MTT

Which are the eligible spots to place an efficient 3-bet?







Several conditions must be met :

  • you have reached the middle or the end of an MTT
  • antes apply
  • you have the perfect stack to place a 4-bet all in
  • you are at an aggressive table where pots are often 3-bet preflop

If you have between 20 and 30 BB you should open raise  »light » in order to preserve your fold equity when you will 4-bet all in (e.g : with such a stack if you open raise to 2,1 BB and face a 3-bet of 5 BB a 4-bet all in from you will prove often very efficient since the size of your stack does not give your opponent the odds to call you with any 2 cards.

Do not open raise too often in early position at a table where stacks are deep because you will get called too often. But do open raise quite often from early position if stacks from the hijack to the BB range between 20 to 40 BB (calling will not be easy for them and they will hesitate to 3-bet you since you represent a good strength with your move).

Seemingly avoid opening on small stacks (between 10 and 20 BB) as they will not hesitate to 3-bet you all in.

LAG will work best than TAG in MTT







LAG (loose-aggressive) play will work best in a MTT (unless you are playing satellites to qualify to a high stake event which will lead you to adopt a TAG strategy considering the specificity of the pay-out structure – equal pay-out for all players who burst the bubble).

LAG style defines players who play a lot of hands (loose) and very aggressively (aggressive). Preflop those players will often opt for open raises, frequent 3/4 bets. Postflop strategy will involve a lot of calculated risks. Where some players would rather make calls and see another card, LAG players will prefer to make a raise and put the decision back on their opponent. LAG players do not care if they are called or if they miss their big draws from time to time because t the folds they tend to generate will more than compensate for it in the end.