Poker Tourney "Endgame" Strategy pt. 5

This post is part of a continuing series of Endgame poker tourney discussion, based largely in part on the works and writing of Dan Harrington and meant as a suppliment to, not a replacement for his books Harrington on Hold'em Volume 1 & 2.

These articles are meant to be read in succession of one another. That being said, click to review the articles on Endgame Strategy pt. I... Endgame Strategy pt II... part three of Endgame Strategy... and finally Endgame Strategy part four.

Parts three and four discussed yellow and orange zone play respectively. Today, we'll explore playing in the Red Zone in a poker tournament.

Red Zone Play

Two choices and only two choices, all-in or fold. In the red zone, you lack any sort of betting power (read: you're not gonna be able to push a brotha out of the pot with a continuation bet). That being said, you're "better off" getting all your chips in the middle now (assuming you have a red-zone worthy hand), as opposed to waiting til the flop to bet out. The opposition on the flop will have more information on the flop. Why give him... or them a further advantage? You want to show strength, dissuade people from mixing it up with you. You're completely satisfied in taking it down uncontested and you also welcome (though not as warmly) 1 caller to your power move.

Now, if you're doing this correctly, you're pushing em all in in the red zone with big pairs, small pairs, medium pairs, big cards, suited connectors... pretty much all but the garbage hands. Wait a minute... I nearly forgot to add that you're wanting to be the first to "open" the betting... meaning, action folds to you. Its often correct, and especially in the red zone to push with hands that are not suitable to call with. That being said, push with 10-9offsuit, don't call with 10-9offsuit.

The underlying theme in the red zone push push push push push, and push some more... I know what is going through most reader's heads right now...

1. Do I really want to push it allin with 10-9o, j-10s?

2. What about if I get AA? Don't I want callers and lots of them?

I retort...

1. Over 2 million plus hands, as computed using pokerstove, 10-9 offsuit wins heads up a bit over 50% of the time when you push preflop like this vs a random hand. In the red zone you welcome a coin toss. Even three handed, you're sporting a 35% chance against a random spectrum of hands 1.9 million hands randomly generated, once again using pokerstove.

2. AA and other premium hands gain more value in raising/pushing than they give up in being multi-way (Small stakes hold'em - Ed Miller et. al twoplustwo publishing). Plus, you're pushing all the time! Peeps are catching on... or so they think. Let them run into the brick wall.

Bottom line, you must turn your weakness (absence of postflop betting power) into a strength. Let your opposition take a chance in calling you. You're the one wise to take the coinflip... and the added possibility of everyone folding to your antics makes this move ever profitable in the red zone.

Tommorrow, we'll summarize that which we've discussed over the last five portions to endgame strategy. See you tonight at Titan.

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