(50/100 + 10, 75/150 + 15, 100/200 + 20)
You should generally start to open up your starting hand requirements at this stage. Since there are now antes in the pot, the pot is becoming worthwhile to steal. If the hand is folded around to you in a late position, you should generally make an attempt to steal the pot with any kind of reasonable hand (as long as a maniac doesn’t act after you or is in the blinds). If I have more than 12-13BB, I’ll generally put in 2.5xBB as the extra 0.5BB is now unnecessary, and this will enable you to put in a c-bet if you so chose. If I have 12-13BB or less I will consider pushing or folding, although a standard raise or min-raise (see the min-raise section below) may also be acceptable.
I like to call the 50/100 and the 75/150 levels the ‘re-stealing phases’. There will be plenty or limping or raising to 300 or 400 chips at these levels and you can often take advantage of this by re-stealing. Often players will back down from an encounter here rather than risk their entire tournament.
e.g. a TAGG player running at 8/7/3.4/348 makes a characteristic raise on the button to 250 chips at the 50/100 blind level. Your HUD stats indicate he steals with 62% of hands. If you have a fair amount of FE you should consider defending your blind with any reasonable hand here. You look down and see KTs in the BB. You should re-raise AI here. This is very likely a steal attempt and you have a hand which isn’t hopeless in the face of an unlikely call. Push AI and defend your blind, and expect him to fold most of his hands here. This will also most likely quickly stop this undesirable play from your opponent.
Taking advantage of medium blind-level limpers is another thing I regularly do.
PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, 10.4 Tournament, 50/100 Blinds 10 Ante (10 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com
Hero (BB) (t1335)
Hero's M: 5.34
Preflop: Hero is BB with Q , A
4 folds, MP2 calls t100, 4 folds, Hero ??
There are already 350 chips in the pot, which is about 25% of your stack. You have plenty of fold equity and a decent hand if you are called. You should push AI.
Before stealing or re-stealing, consider how aggressive a player is and how likely a player is to call. Generally, the wider the player is going to call the re-steal, the less attractive the play becomes. TAGGs make great targets since they will often attempt to blind steal and fold to AI aggression. Recently, I have noticed many looser players min-raising and then calling AI steals almost regardless of their hand. Be very careful of this breed of player.
Make sure you have enough fold equity before you steal or re-steal. Don’t attempt these plays if your opponent is going to feel compelled to call.
Note: this section is currently probably incomplete. I’m still working on incorporating this into my game. Take advice here with a healthy dose of salt.
Min-betting at these levels or the higher levels is generally not a bad idea. It requires a specific awareness of the stack sizes at the table. You shouldn’t try this if there are short stacks that act after you that you are not prepared to stack off against.
Generally, the concept is that min-bet offers you a good chance to win the hand with a very low-risk bet. You shouldn’t min-bet if you won’t have enough FE to fold opponents in further hands.
The min-bet is highly exploitable by observant opponents. Clever opponents will know that you will very rarely be able to call an AI bet over the top of your min-bet. They know that this is rarely a big hand as you will usually push AI PF with these hands since stacking off with them is usually bad. For this precise reason, you may want to balance your min-betting range by occasionally min-betting with AA or KK, not because you want action with these hands, but to discourage AI re-steals, particularly from regs you may encounter again. Once bitten, twice shy.
A further disadvantage is you may also land up in strange spots where the best play isn’t all that clear. Do you c-bet or check-fold if called?
Despite the negatives, I am blending this more and more into my TAGG game. I will frequently use this technique when I have one of the larger stacks at the table but there is another large stack to act after me.
PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, 10.4 Tournament, 75/150 Blinds 15 Ante (7 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com
Hero (UTG) (t2080)
Hero's M: 6.30
Preflop: Hero is UTG with A , K
While min-raising here is a possibility, I feel you should push all-in here. You have a fantastic hand, which is dominated by only AA or KK. There are plenty of 10BB stacks to act after you and one of them may consider re-stealing (eg. With a medium pair), at which point you may have to fold your hand. Avoiding confrontation is key in DONs. Another consideration is that the big- stack is in the big blind and will likely call a min-bet with any reasonable hand. I tend to make the strongest bet I can here.
PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, 10.4 Tournament, 125/250 Blinds 25 Ante (8 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com
Hero (MP2) (t3925)
Hero's M: 6.83
Preflop: Hero is MP2 with A , K
3 folds, Hero ??
This hand is slightly different in that we have a much larger stack, but there is also a big stack to act after. We can min-bet here, and will happily call the CO, SB or BB if they push. We will evaluate the flop if the button just calls.
Hero bets t500, 4 folds
Total pot: t825
Outcome: Hero won t825
PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, 10.4 Tournament, 125/250 Blinds 25 Ante (6 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com
Hero (CO) (t1935)
Hero's M: 3.69
Preflop: Hero is CO with A , 9
2 folds, Hero ??
In this example Hero is unfortunate in that a very big stack is immediately to his left. Min-raising here is a big mistake. The big- stacked button is probably itching to call or push back at Hero. Even if he doesn’t the small-stacked SB might decide he has FE on you and push against you. Ok, so a min-raise is out, what about a push? Well, a push is unlikely to be too profitable either with two smaller stacks on the table and on the bubble. By process of elimination you should just fold here.
Button bets t4835 (All-In), 2 folds
Total pot: t775
I hope that you are observing that there are a lot of nuances that have to be thought about before you make a min-bet.