Yesterday in a MTT Online tournament I found myself in a situation in which the M-zones strategy "felt wrong" to me. But being at best an average player it's me that is probably wrong, I just would like to understand why.

I was already in the money in position 5 of 11 players remaining, I had about 8000 chips and the blinds were at 800-400 with ante at 100. While it was a 10 players per table tournaments, at this point we were only 6 on my table.

Given the sum of the blinds and ante (800 + 400 + 6 * 100 = 1800) my M was 4.4, into the red zone. Harrington's strategy there dictate my only move should be an all-in move.

This felt wrong to me because while I am indeed in the red zone, I felt I was in a good position in the tournament at this time 5th of 11. The all-in or nothing feels much more right when we are still at the beginning or middle of the tournament.

Is the M-Zone strategy still a good one in this situation and if it is could you explain why?

2 Answers 2


The problem with with making a standard raise with an M under 5 is that you will be left with a stack that is too low if you lose the pot. If a standard raise for this tournament is 2.5BB then you are raising to 2K to open the pot. If only the big blind calls you now have a 5K pot and a stack of 6K behind. Should you decide to push all in at this point your opponent would need to call 6K to win 11K. With almost 2 to 1 odds the villain can call with a lot of hands correctly even if you are ahead at this point.

Instead if you push all in right off the bat your opponents need to call 8K to win 9800. In this situation you will take down the pot uncontested a majority of the time. More importantly you are sending a message to the rest of the field that you are willing to risk it all this late in the game. If you win two of these pots uncontested now you are sitting on 11600. If this happens to move you up to 4th or 3rd in chips now you can really begin to apply pressure on the medium positions when they are in the blinds. A hidden bonus of this all in strategy is that you can earn a walk when you are in the blinds as no one wants to challenge the aggressive player for their BB if he will potentially move all in in response.


The math does not change near the end. You are basically pot committed with any bet so go all in and pick up fold equity.

If you want to move up a spot or two then can play a tighter range but eventually you will have to play a hand.

Harrington also has guidelines on what kind of hands to play in the situation.

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