I am a winning low-stakes live cash game pro with mediocre abilities. I have qualified for a day 2 of a big live tournament, with a well above-average stack. Day 2 starts in 5 days. (There is a TL;DR at the end.)

Many years ago, I had significant success in online MTTs. I would play a Harringtonian style early on, then move on to steals, 9X 3bet-Cbets from the blinds and Kill Everyone-style unexploitable resteals, occasionally experimenting with light 4bet shoves if the HUD warranted it.

I have mostly stopped playing MTTs since then. Whenever I decide to play one, I feel I am behind the game and getting outplayed frequently. People are raising small and calling, calling, calling. Everyone defends in the BB, then folds to a Cbet 1/3 of the pot. ('Charging draws' is no longer relevant.) Nobody bets more than half the pot, ever. Nobody calls a 3bet shove with AJ, ever. People are raise-folding and 3bet-folding all the time with ridiculously short stacks. Everybody seems to be concerned with stack preservation and extracting value from medium-strength hands, even at the expense of getting maximum value on strong ones.

I have watched some Twitch and experimented (online) with emulating this new small-bet style, floating OOP with backdoor draws etc and have had some success with it, but it was probably mostly luck and I didn't really understand what I was doing.

A lot of modern MTT poker is unfamiliar to me.

So my question is this: given the limited preparation time, what can I do study-wise that has the greatest reward/effort ratio? I am not looking to become an excellent MTT player in four days. I am looking to understand the basics of current MTT play.

TL;DR: weaktight reshove monkey wants to get on speed with the basics of the modern MTT game in a few days. What should he focus on?

  • Lot of absolutes there. A tournament is about preservation. Not sure training guide is in scope.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 10:56
  • Absolutes are just rhetorical devices here, not meant to be understood in a literal sense. "Nobody calls a 3bet shove with AJ, ever." = "Good players with medium stacks seem to need much stronger holdings to call for their tournament lives than before." Preservation is important, certainly. However, I find it unusual that todays good players are VERY risk averse and need VERY good odds to risk their tournament lives. If by training guide you mean a poker coach, yes, it is in scope, although I have never taken lessons before. Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 18:38
  • You're not going to learn anything in 5 days that will change your game effectively. Realize that so don't stress about it. Focus on becoming better for the long term and have a plan for that.
    – Jonast92
    Commented May 17, 2019 at 17:10

2 Answers 2


Pushbotting is certainly a very important part of tournaments that you don't get a chance to train in cash game. As you survive and go deeper in tournaments, your chances to be at small effective stack relatively to blinds are high, and high accuracy in these spots can get you significant EV.

Everybody seems to be concerned with stack preservation

This is because, on a tournament that isn't a winner take all, surviving has value. The best model to represent this is ICM. The consequences of ICM is that a call that is marginally chip ev+ can be $ev- if it diminishes your chances to survive to a paid place. The short lessons of ICM is that you have to be strong to call, and you can push lightly because others have to be strong to call.

Other than that, playing an outdated but winning style have better chances of success than trying modern stuff and failing it. Stay near your confort zone, and leave experiment for smaller buy-ins.


3 betting, keeping the betting lead, BB vs SB. I wouldn't try to cram new concepts shortly before a big event like this. Just go with what your comfortable with.
Raise the tight players and fold when they raise you back

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