poker tournament final table

Having a plan for making the final table

Tournament poker players will be all too aware of how easy it is to get knocked out of an event. At the end of the day, only one player can ever win a tournament and the rest will be eliminated. In fact even if you were only playing an STT then irrespective of just how good you were then even in a ten man field then the odds would be small of you winning. A top player may only win 20% of the time in an STT. So in large fields then the chances are slim that the winner of any one individual event will be you.

Fail to prepare……prepare to fail.

However this does not mean that you should enter without a plan or to play aimlessly. Even though you may be eliminated at any stage then you still need a plan of attack. What that plan is may differ from person to person but it is important that you have one otherwise you run the risk of not really knowing what to do. Fortunately there is one good yardstick that can help us understand where we stand in the poker tournament and it is called “M”.

This concept was designed by Dan Harrington and puts into a simple formula how much tournament life you have left if you simply sit and fold. Your M is simply the figure that you arrive at if you divide your stack size by the amount of blinds and antes that you pay for one round. So let us say that the blinds are 100-200 and your stack is 5000. Simply taking the 5000 and dividing that by 300 gives us an M figure of 16.66 (rounded to 16). Another example could be if we had say 17,000 in chips and the blinds were 200-400 with an ante of 50 with nine players.

Have enough chips to play poker

This is slightly more complex because you have 600 in blinds plus another nine lots of 50 per round which is 450. So your total cost of playing poker is 1050 per round. The figure of 17k divided by 1050 gives us a figure of 16.19 (rounded to 16 again). Now it is common knowledge amongst many tournament players not to let your M figure slip to less than 10. Doing so means that you have less fold equity, less chance to bully, less chance to pick spots, less chance to play good post flop poker…….in short……less chance for everything.

So good players look to try and accumulate chips before this critical stage of play is reached. But what the M figure does is to tell you when you have time on your side and when you don’t. This is because there are several very important tournament poker concepts at work that all good players adhere to. Firstly your tournament life is very important and so spewing chips is not going to help you win. On the flip side though is the fact that if you wait too long until your stack is too small then your chances of accumulating a meaningful stack that could take you to the final table become very remote.