I am currently playing a lot of 9-man reg speed single table tournaments. The general accepted ‘correct’ strategy in these is to play super tight early on, open up a little in the mid levels in late position to start blind stealing, and then play really aggressive when stacks get short. There are two excellent sources of information on this:

-The videos by ‘Spacegravy’ in the PSO video library. They are old but still brilliant. He was a Pokerstars pro at the time and one of the best in the world at these tournaments.
-The book ‘Sit ‘n Go Strategy’ by Colin Moshman.

In his section on the midgame, Moshman talks a lot about attacking ‘high blind limpers’. These are players who, despite their now short stack, will continue to limp with speculative hands hoping to see a cheap flop. In STTs, this is a considerable mistake when each chip is really valuable. Lose too many chips and you lose your fold equity, which is fundamental to staying alive as you approach the bubble.

When deciding whether to attack a limp, Moshman says you must consider the following:

1) If you have less than 10bb and have a hand that is usually considered marginal (such as QTo) you should push all in. The times they fold, and the times you win when called, make it a profitable play.
2) You should be more inclined to make this play if they are a loose passive player who has shown they will do this often. Tight aggressive players might do this with monsters to induce exactly this shoving action.
3) You should be more inclined to make this play if taking down the pot immediately would add significant percentage of chips to your stack (>30% for example)
4) If there is more than one limper you should be more inclined to make this play as the pot is larger, and it is highly unlikely the second limper has a monster or they would have raised themselves.

So I applied the following filters to my Hold ‘em Manager database:

-Preflop actions: 1 limper or 2+ limpers
-Number of players: 3-10 (I am not interested in heads up hands)
-Filter: single table tournaments
-Stack size: 6-18bb

Here are a few hands for analysis.

SB: 2,667 (22.2 bb)
BB: 2,981 (24.8 bb)
MP1: 3,977 (33.1 bb)
MP2: 1,235 (10.3 bb)
MP3: 591 (4.9 bb)
CO: 935 (7.8 bb)
Hero (BTN): 1,114 (9.3 bb)

Preflop: Hero is BTN with 4d 8c
2 folds, MP3 calls 120

Here it is pretty obvious that I should not be shoving. The limper only has 5bb (a pretty horrible time to limp) so I should assume I have zero fold equity. And I am holding trash. So we wait for a better spot.

SB: 3,802 (47.5 bb)
BB: 1,140 (14.3 bb)
MP1: 966 (12.1 bb)
MP2: 1,110 (13.9 bb)
Hero (MP3): 1,024 (12.8 bb)
CO: 2,612 (32.7 bb)
BTN: 2,846 (35.6 bb)

Preflop: Hero is MP3 with 9d Ah
MP1 calls 80

I think this hand was a missed opportunity. A 12bb stack limps, and they have been playing this way consistently. Their stats are 38/2, indicating that they usually just call when entering a pot. I only have 13bb, and there is already 3.5bb in the middle, so I would be adding around 30% to my stack. A9 should do well against their limping range. The only downside is that there are still 4 players to act after me and they could have big hands, and if anyone calls my shove I am not in good shape. I think a fold here is ok but it could have been a shove too. If this was on the button or in the blinds then it should be an easy shove I think.

SB: 1,551 (19.4 bb)
Hero (BB): 1,438 (18 bb)
MP1: 1,092 (13.7 bb)
MP2: 2,423 (30.3 bb)
MP3: 1,550 (19.4 bb)
CO: 3,443 (43 bb)
BTN: 2,003 (25 bb)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 4c 4h
MP1 folds, MP2 calls 80, 4 folds, Hero checks

Flop: (270) 9d As 3h (2 players)
Hero checks, MP2 bets 80, Hero folds

Results: 270 pot
Final Board: 9d As 3h
Hero mucked 4c 4h and lost (-90 net)
MP2 mucked and won 270 (180 net)

This definitely isn’t a shove as I have 18bb. I am in the big blind so I do have the option of checking, but I would liked to have seen me make a sizeable raise to 320 here. The villain is playing 47/6, so again limping a ton. He would probably have called my raise. That would have made the pot large enough that I could shove pretty much any flop and expect to see a profit in the long term. As played, once I check I just have to check/fold the flop. I could maybe have called one flop bet as it is small, but then I’m out of position and really have no idea where I am. I played this too passively. One more hand…

SB: 4,009 (13.4 bb)
Hero (BB): 4,094 (13.6 bb)
BTN: 5,397 (18 bb)

Preflop: Hero is BB with Ks Qd
BTN calls 300, SB completes, Hero raises to 4,069 and is all-in, 2 folds

Results: 975 pot
Hero mucked Ks Qd and won 975 (650 net)

This is well played I think. The button is playing a horrific 82/4 and has bad beat himself into the money. The small blind is a solid 23/19 and I think we can read his limp as a “meh pot odds” entry rather than limping a monster. I have 14bb with KQo. The pot is already 3.3bb which would add about 25% to my stack, and it should just be printing money against their ranges here. They both fold.

Hope this analysis was helpful. If you play STTs try it out yourself!