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No-Limit Texas Holdem Tournaments: Nash Push/Fold Solution for Heads-Up Play

Watch this video for instructions on how to utilize your Nash-Equilibrium solution for heads-up play (begins at 3:02):

If you haven’t already done so, definitely read the following pages first (in the order listed below), as the information provided there is crucial for properly understanding the mid-stack strategy (MSS): starting-hands ranges and respective percentages for Texas Hold ’em, equity and expected value (EV) and many other fundamental concepts you’ll need to become a card shark in the shortest amount of time:

  1. Texas Hold ‘em (Cash Games)
  2. Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #1: Short-Stack Strategy (SSS)
  3. Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #2: Poker Betting Strategies
  4. Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #3: Big-Stack Strategy (BSS)
  5. Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #4: Deep-Stack Strategy (DSS)

No-Limit Texas Hold ’em: “Hybrid” Mid-Stack Strategy (Especially for Cash Games)

Only play this hybrid strategy after you have a strong foundation in both BSS and SSS.

Here’s a coaching video for small- and mid-stacked (“hybrid”) play especially at the 6-max tables, which also briefly reviews the suggested big-stacked ranges in the beginning of the video.

The following is a brief overview of the key points you should keep in mind when utilizing the hybrid strategy. The specifics are covered in the essential poker knowledge videos on Texas Hold ’em. Enjoy!

General Strategic Considerations

Be mindful of “player types,” relative positions at the table, effective stack sizes and general statistics (see poker-strategy blog, videos and strategy-specific pages for details). Know that when playing a hybrid strategy, the value of speculative hands decreases due to your reduced stack size.

  • Strategy was especially designed for and very effective when playing multiple tables and for gaining experience in cash games for mid-stacked play in tournaments.
  • Cash-game buy-in: ~30-40BBs, re-buy at 15BBs (or play short-stack strategy & Sklansky/Chubokov’s shove numbers).
  • Leave the table when up ~15-20BBs+ or play on using the BSS principles.
  • Any time a bet or raise => 50% of your stack or will make you pot-committed on the next betting round (i.e. generally where your stack <= pot size), you should either push all in Or fold directly!
  • If it’s good enough for a call, it’s normally good enough for a raise (barring speculative hands when IP after 2+ limpers). The bigger the raise, the greater the “fold equity.”
  • Keep the initiative and fold/fear equity on your side. “Pushing/Jamming” creates maximum fold-equity and nullifies post-flop skill differences (“edge”).

The “Hybrid” Strategy Starting Hands Chart

Note: This is also a solid guideline for early-phase, big-stacked, full-ring multi-table tournaments (MTTs).

Open-raise (oR) or “2bet” size: 3-5 BBs + 1 per limper before you; always be consistent with your bet sizing to minimize your opponents ability to read you based on your bets!

3bet/4bet size = 2.5x-3x the action before you + 1 per caller. Note that some 3bets and many 4bets are already a direct push all-in when you’re playing with a mid-sized stack. See the golden rule of betting for information on when to make a “normal bet/raise size” and when to shove it all across the line.

5bet = direct push!

The following is a very condensed version of the starting-hands chart for mid-stacked play. For all the details and also for 6-max tables starting hands charts, click the button below…

Get the Comprehensive Starting Hands Charts for Texas Holdem Cash Games Here
  • Early position (EP) oR: 99, AQ+ (5.1%); 4-bet/5-bet all-in (AI) only with KK+ (0.9%)
  • Middle position (MP) oR: 77, AJs, AQ, KQs+ (6.6%); 3-bet (3x reraise size): JJ, AK (3%)
  • Cut-off (CO) oR: 55+, A9s+, AT+, KQ, KJs+, JTs+ (11.8%); (over)Flat: 15x & 9x

3-bet vs. loose MP raiser (2.5x-3x): 99, AJs+, AQ+ (5.4%)

4-bet/5-bet (or call all-in vs. a raise size of 30 BBs or more): only with KK+ (0.9%)

  • Button (BU) oR: 22+, A2s, A9+, KT+, QJ, suited Broadway, 54s+ (21.3%)
  • Small blind (SB) oR: 22+, A7s, A9+, KJ+, JTs+, 87s+ (17.0%); 4bet vs. later raisers: TT+, AQ+;
  • 3bet resteal: 77+, AJ+, KQ (8.45%); 3bet resteal squeeze all-in with: TT+, AQ+
    • After you 3bet resteal, call a 4bet w/JJ+, AK up to 30 BBs (mind the phase of play if you are in a tournament!);
    • Shoves & (re)steal ranges should vary with stats/reads on your opponents.

Check out this real-time session recording using the hybrid strategy at 6-Max Texas Holdem cash game tables:

General Adjustments to the Standard BSS & SSS:

Pre-flop play: Starting-hands charts (SHCs):

  • Generally play the SSS ranges when starting a session and when playing unknown opponents.
  • Incorporate BSS ranges and moves in middle and late position.
  • Mindful of “call 15x” rule (when IP) with Axs & connectors and the 9x rule with small/middle pocket pairs
  • Mindful of stack sizes that will commit you all in on future streets (i.e. those in the hand who may go all in after the next card/s)
  • As much as possible, play IP and keep fold equity on your side.

Post-flop play:

  • Your fold equity when pushing will be greater w/larger stack size than the SSS.
  • Implied odds will be less than when playing the BSS..
  • Be mindful of correct “odds calls” that opponents can make against you given your reduced stack size.

Why play this strategy?

  • Generally quite effective for clearing bonuses at online card rooms.
  • Potential to gain a lot of experience with minimized financial risks and greater returns than playing SSS.
  • In cash games, you’ll gain a lot of experience and improve skills that are also applicable to middle/late-phase play in tournaments.
  • Useful for playing in brick-&-mortar casinos or in house games where you might buy in for the table minimum (e.g. to test the waters while having multiple buy-ins in your pocket) and then play on once you have a decent read on the poker table.
  • Many players will assume you’re a fish given your smaller table buy-in amount.
  • When you switch back and forth between BSS & SSS while playing online, your ranges/stats that other players will see (if they’re using poker-tracking software) will be misleading given your adjustments at various stack sizes/positions.

Strategy Recap and What’s to Come for Our Members

The mid-stack or hybrid strategy is based on the principles of both short-stacked and big-stacked play. If you’re new to this style of play, use the short-stack strategy starting hand ranges and incorporate set mining and flatting from late position with Axs and suited connectors after four or more limpers or callers. Especially when playing online poker where you can play multiple tables, begin with no more than four tables at a time, focus on player profiling and in-position play. In tournament poker, the mid-stack hybrid strategy will be necessary as soon as you drop below 60 BBs. Being able to skillfully fluctuate between stack-based strategies is sign of an advanced or expert player and is crucial for optimal play in various phases of poker tournaments.

For our members, the next e-mail you’ll receive will be on fixed-limit Texas Holdem cash games and will include an expected value (EV) analysis of millions of Texas Hold ’em real-money hands online. Keep an eye on your inbox, and feel free to comment to this page below and drop us a line in the meantime if you have any questions.


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Holdem Manager (My personal favorite online poker-tracking software for Texas Hold ’em)

Omaha Manager (My personal favorite online poker-tracking software for Omaha)

Sit-and-Go Wizard (a must-have for all serious SnG players and very useful for MTT pros)



The SitNGo Wizard