Preflop and Flop Strategy for MTTs based on M/BBs
Note: While this guide should keep you out of most trouble preflop and on flop, you still have to be a good player on all streets to be successful in MTTs.
You should be able to count your M or your BBs pretty fast during the whole tournament.
Here is a table showing how many BBs represent which M.
Without Ante your BB count is always 1.5 times your M.
With Ante: (Based on Stars' Blind Structures)
50 about 125 to 130
30 about 75 to 80
20 about 50 to 55
10 about 25 to 30
5 about 12 to 15
According to Harrington we encounter 5 zones during a MTT.
1. The green zone: M 20 or above (roughly 50 BBs); Every style is open to you, you are very comfortable. Obviously you want to stay in this zone most of the time. However, not all styles lead to staying here long. A survivalist that doesn't play many speculative hands when comfortable will slide slowly through the zones, but he will end up in one of the lower zones more often than an accumulator since good hands don't come along that often. Furthermore big hands get cracked sometimes and by keeping a chip-advantage over the field (hence: staying in the green zone) you maximize your chances of not going broke with a big cracked hand since your opponent is more likely to have less chips than you.
So here's what you can do:
A) You can open the pot. The following hands should be raised from any position (I raise to 3 BBs without ante and to 2 ½ BBs later on when the ante is in.): Any pocket pair, any suited Ace, any suited connector and suited two-gapper, any two suited broadway cards, Ajo+, Kqo. If you end up with 1 caller you should always c-bet, no matter what your hand is. The c-bet size should be between ½ and 2/3 of the pot, but always bigger than the preflop raise. Against 2 callers I would c-bet on all good flops for me (either if I flopped at least a pair or the board is very dry) out of position and in middle position, and on all flops except for the most drawheavy and dangerous ones in position. Against more than 2 callers you need to have hit the flop at least in the way that it gave you a draw to continue and I strongly recommend not to make any bet except for a valuebet against more than 2 opponents. Play your draw cautious and check/call out of position and check behind in position. Give the hand up if you don't catch it. And watch the pot-odds closely. If you get reraised you should call with all the raised hands mentioned here if you are both deepstack and the raise isn't too big. Again it's very important to know your pot-odds and implied odds. In the cut-off, button and small blind we include only a few more hands to be opened with: any Ace, any two broadway cards, Q9, K9.
B) You are facing a raise: Reraise QQ+, AK. Call with all other hands you would open from early position and play a flop except for Ajo and Kqo. Both should only be played against loose player's raises.
C) There is one limper: If in the CO or on the button isolate the limper with any hand you want to play and c-bet by the same rules as mentioned above. In other positions you should raise with 99+, Ajs+, AQ+ and overlimp with all other playable hands mentioned above.
D) There are several limpers: Raise TT+, AQ+ and overlimp with everything else.
As a final note to the green zone strategy: You play smallball poker and try to win a lot of small pots, which you win with steals. Don't overplay toppair without a kicker. You are in the hunt for nuts or at least strong hands if you play your hand for value and not as a bluff.
2. The yellow zone (M of 20 to 12)
You are not that comfortable anymore but not crippled either. You want to still raise all PPs from any position and setmine with them if someone has raised and it costs less than 10% of your stack. You want to additionally raise AT+ and KQ from early and middle position, QJ from middle position, and still steal with a wide range from late position. But otherwise you are not playing suited connectors etc anymore. You don't want to spew chips in this stage, you want to play quality hands and get back to green zone, possibly with a double up. After limpers, no matter how many, you want to raise with 99+, Aq+ and overlimp with other quality hands, but fold the connectors and stealing hands. You don't want to c-bet out of position anymore or against more than 1 player if you haven't connected with the flop.
3. The orange zone (M of 12 to 5)
I divide this zone into two stages: During the resteal stage (M of 12 to 8 ) I will only open quality hands and not open as a steal anymore except for against the tightest BBs from late position. But if a late or middle position player raises that has a PFR of at least like 14% and is not tight and I am to act after him I will reraise all-in with the following hands: All pocket pairs, any suited connector and one gapper, ATs+, AQ+, Kjs+. Sometimes even two gappers. You don't want to push really weak Aces or Kings too often since you might be dominated if you get called and you don't want to push hands without chemistry like T2 or Q4 or 49 too often since they flop really bad.
Below an M of 8 I am only opening if I am willing to commit the rest of my chips to the pot.
4. The red zone (M of below 5)
Right now at the moment this stage needs some more experimenting before I can recommend certain plays. However, in general if you don't have a quality hand but need to steal the blinds you should rather push suited connectors or two gappers and other chemistry hands instead of weak Aces or kings.
I know that this is somewhat incomplete and contains not much new information but rather is a summation of what players like Harrington, Ryan Fisler, Rizen, Annette_15 etc have said on the topic. But still it might be useful.
As a final attachment here is a link to a site where Annette_15 explains how she plays pocket pairs with a medium to short stack.http://betting.betfair.com/annette_15/articles/how-to-play-pocket-pairs-with-a-short-to-medium-st-160108.html
Good luck, Coop.