Dan Harrington came up with the M-Concept, published in his book; "Harrington on Hold'em – Volume II".
The easy to use calculator below will offer you some basic advice depending on your 'M' Score. Simply fill in the information for Small Blind, Big Blind, Ante, and your Stack Size. Your result will be displayed as a colour, which you can cross reference with the advice below.
- When you have plenty of chips you are able to play any style of poker you want. Depending on your table you should play a lot of pots to try and increase your stack or sit back and wait for a strong hand before getting involved. However, while comfortable at the moment it's important you don't get carried away and play too many pots - this could see your M dropping down quickly!
- It's important to open up your game and attempt to steal small pots to stay afloat of the rising blinds and antes. If you play too tight, soon you will be short stacked and forced to play shove-or-fold poker. Avoid playing small pairs and suited connectors - you don't have the implied odds to make them profitable - and focus on strong hands that you can either raise or shove with pre-flop to build your stack up. If you manage to double-up you will be back in a comfortable position.
- You are now forced to play ABC poker, with little room to make any bluffs or play post-flop. Focus on spots where you can be the first person into the pot and make a raise - every blind steal you make will be crucial to staying in the tournament. Make sure you don't just call a raise, even if you are getting good odds. Instead, either shove all-in and force your opponent into a decision or just fold. At this stage every chip you lose is crucial and takes away any fold equity that you might have. Be patient, wait for a great spot to get your chips into the middle and hope for a double-up that will get you right back into the game.
- Your only options are to fold or move all-in. Even if you make the minimum raise you are pot committed and can't get away from the hand, so it's better just to shove and give the other players a more difficult decision. If your M is 3 or less then you will most likely be called by any two cards when you shove, and need to get lucky. It's better if you can shove with a decent hand but your position is just as important - if it is folded to you in late position you can profitably shove with any two cards and hope everyone folds. Stealing the blinds and antes will keep you afloat but if you get called you will probably have to get lucky as it's likely you won't have the best hand. Shove with a wide range of hands and make sure you don't dwindle down completely; it's better to die trying than to get swallowed up by the blinds!
- This is the danger zone. You will need a lot of luck to get back in the tournament as your only move now is to shove all-in, and you don't have enough chips to make anyone fold their hand. Look for any single high card hand, such as K-2 or better and just go with it. In the future, try to ensure that you never get to this stage in the first place by playing more aggressively when you have enough chips to put pressure on your opponents. While you are mainly relying on luck now to give you a few double-ups you could help your chances a little by shoving when you are in late position, making it more likely that you will be heads-up and not in a multi-way pot. This way you only have to get lucky against one random hand and not several!