Poker Tournament Moves – The UTG Steal

Under The Gun Is The New Button For Stealing Blinds In Online Poker Tournaments
– The Why And How Of UTG Stealing

At one point in the evolution of online poker tournaments the player on the button or cut-off seat would regularly raise to steal the blinds with a very wide range of hands… then the players in the blinds caught up. Instead of playing back with only strong hands they started to mix in a far wider range – the resteal was to become so common that those same players had to 4-bet all in as a bluff on occasion just to keep this to a reasonable level.

However, raises from early position generally still hold more respect – after all with so many players still to act the chances of a bluff are significantly reduced.

With this logic in mind some experienced tournament players began to steal blinds from the place where their raises would gain the maximum possible ‘respect’ from their opponents – the first position after the blinds known as ‘Under The Gun’.  This in turn lead to the in-joke that ‘UTG is the new button’.

UTG Steal strategy

While this move will eventually become so well known that its effectiveness will be blunted it remains effective when used under the right circumstances. These include:

  • Ensuring that your table image is of a solid / tight player (who would never consider something like an UTG bluff!).
  • Ensuring that your opponents are actually able to consider how your range of hands might differ depending on position at the table. In a $10 tournament you are likely to get several calls from players who are only thinking of their own hands and not considering anything else at all.
  • Ensuring that both your stack size and post-flop hand reading skills give you some flexibility in how to play those times you are called.

This move is a great way to balance your game when used in the right circumstances. Like any poker tournament move, over-using it (or just using this for the wrong reasons) will turn an occasional balancing move into pure chip-spew. Being aware of the possibility of UTG steals means it is even more important to make a note of the hands shown down in a tournament – finding someone who over-uses this move could one day allow you to make an effective UTG+1 re-steal!!

Further Reading On Tournament Moves:

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