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When you play poker tournaments, switching gears is critical. Tournaments employ increasing blind structures so that the action doesn’t continue forever. These artificial stake escalators create the need for constant strategy fluxes. You need to alter your approach in different stages of the tournament.

You also need to change up your strategy based on how many chips you have remaining. Understanding your M-ratio can help you make better poker decisions when you’re handling stack size fluctuations.

The M-ratio, also known as the M principle, M number or simply “M,” Paul Magriel developed and named. Magriel, an avid poker and backgammon player, former Math professor and National Science Foundation fellow, is an expert in probabilities. You may have seen him in televised poker, where he performs under the name X22, or Quack Quack.

M is a tool that he created that helps players gauge their approach in various stages of tournament play. M helps players decide what approach to take based on the size of their remaining chip stack and the blind and ante structure. Different offers and rewards are available at Jasadomino for the engagement of the players at the website. The approach should be compatible with the structure of the place. The preparation of the strategy should be done with extreme intelligence and skills to get the benefits in online gaming. 

In his book Harrington on Holdem: Volume II The Endgame, Dan Harrington explores the uses of the M-ratio in great detail for Texas Holdem tournaments.

To calculate M, you take the size of your stack and divide it by the sum of the blinds and antes. Let’s employ this calculation in a specific table situation. Imagine you’re sitting at a table with ten other players. The blind structure is $10/$20. A mandatory $5 ante is taken from each player. Your current chip total is $1000. With all this info, you can calculate your M.

First, add up the blinds and antes. Since ten players will be throwing in $5 antes, the ante total will be $50. The small blind, plus the big blind, plus the antes will give you $80 ($10 + $20 + $50 = $80). Take your total chip count and divide it by this number ($1000/$80 = 12.5). The resulting M number is 12.5. So what does this all mean?

Dan Harrington developed five different zones to help players figure out what appropriate action to take based on their M-ratio calculations.

Green Zone (When M is greater than 20)

When you have the big stack, you can afford to play however you like. You can put your stack to work and start raising and reraising your opponents, or you can bide your time and wait for excellent cards to be aggressive with. Don’t get too comfortable with either approach. If you wait too long to use your stack, you’ll find that it’s not as large as it once was relative to your opponents’ chip totals. If you play too loose with a big stack, you could get caught sacrificing too many chips on a bad play.

Yellow Zone (When M is in between 10 and 20)

In the example that we used above, the resulting M number was 12.5. This number would put you in the yellow zone. When you’re in the yellow zone, you need to start playing more hands. The super-tight conservative approach will no longer serve your interests. Don’t sit idly by as the blinds and antes dwindle your stack. Don’t play lower pairs small connectors or low suited cards, but loosen up your game as bit and take a few more risks.

Orange Zone (When M is between 6 and 10)

The orange zone is a place where you need to be cautious. You don’t have the type of chip arsenal to make bold, overly aggressive moves. In all likelihood, your big bets won’t be big enough to force a fold. Hold on to the chips you have. Use your survival tactics and employ all-in aggression when you have an excellent starting hand. Marginal hands and limping in have no place in the orange zone.

Red Zone (When M is between 1 and 5)

When you’re M-ratio is in the red zone, you’re stack is in critical condition. The only thing you can do is fold or push all-in. You can push all-in in an attempt to steal blinds, but you will likely get called no matter what. Make sure the hand you choose to push in with is at least half-decent

Dead Zone (When M is less than 1)

If you’re in the dead zone, you’re already thinking about getting up from the table. The nail is in the coffin. The jell-O is jiggling in the refrigerator. Your tournament day is almost over. All you can hope for is a first-in opportunity. Get your chips in the middle of the table before the blinds come your way. Push all-in and hope that a few lucky double ups can get you back in the mix.

When you’re in a tourney, the blind structure and the amount of chips that you have will determine, to a large extent, the way you approach a particular hand. Using the M-ratio is a good way to gauge your stack-to-structure relationship

Mastering this tool is an effective way to improve your poker tournament success rate. Try it out now at Bodog Poker!