We all prefer medium-sized stacks to small ones for obvious reasons. However, short stacks have an advantage: making decisions is easier. With middle stacks, almost every decision you make is complicated and every move is uncomfortable.
When the stack contains 30-40 big blinds, it is defined as the medium stack, and learning how to play the tournament achievement is key. In most tournaments, you will have chips of this size from when half the field is eliminated to reaching the final table. This means you could spend as much as half of your tournament time, where every pot matters and every decision is delicate. You’re too stacked to bet openly like a short stack, and by the time you open with a standard raise, you’re already risking almost 10% of your stack. So you can’t lose.
A stack is defined as a medium stack if it contains 30-40 big blinds, and learning how to use it is critical to success in a tournament.
But you have to put things in perspective: if you play too tight, you can quickly find yourself understacked as a result of increasing blinds and antes . Things can get even more complicated when you’re facing multiple aggressive players at the final table. People will most likely play tighter to avoid raises and get into the pile. Always remember that sometimes you need to take risks because the blinds and antes you can win by raising will keep you alive.
Focus on the challenge of playing a medium game when you have the chips. From early position, I suggest you mainly play hands that you’re willing to go all-in: when you have a pair of tens or higher, or even With AK in hand you should try to get to the middle of everything. While it may tempt you to expand your hand to include pairs of 8s and 9s, A-Q, A-J or K-Q, if these hands are solid, you should probably avoid them. Reraise.
Assume the blinds are 250/500, my stack is 15,000, and the deal is J-J. If I make a standard raise of 1,500, and a late position player re-raises to 4,500, I’ll go all-in and hope for the best. I can’t afford to fold a hand like this with such a big stack.
In the same situation, but this time the reraise is gentler and the flop doesn’t scare me – like in a 9-7-4 in another suit, I Bet the flop, then keep betting, raising, or check-raising until I’m all-in, no matter what my opponent does. If there are no horror cards on the table, you really shouldn’t fold. It’s also not in your best interest to deal a free card when the pot is already big and any ace or king could rule you out.
The one exception to the hands you track this way is when it’s me playing against aggressive players. Let’s say I have J-J, and I make a standard raise pre-flop, my opponent in late position calls, and the flop comes Q-7-4 of different suit. Chances are my hand is still the best so I should continue as if it were a hand, but since my opponent is aggressive, I check, he calls, I check-raise, then go all-in . I give him a chance to bluff, and if he does, I protect my hand with a big all-in. This usually works better than a continuation bet, which might get him into the deck if he has a weaker hand than mine. It also makes sense to play this game with A-A, A-Q, or bluff with A-K.
Playing middle stacks in late position is another suggestion. Many times, you have to deal with a raise from an early position player, and when that doesn’t happen, the betting range is wider.
But in an early position, the situation is tense – an aggressive approach is definitely the way to go. Be careful with the hands you play, but if you decide to play a hand, be prepared to push it.