Decoding the M Ratio in Poker

Poker tournaments can be very challenging for a lot of poker players. Making decisions with speed and precision during tournaments is a feat. Many a times you must have wished that there was a way to determine when and how you should be making your moves in a tournament. We are pleased to tell you that what you have been looking for is the M Ratio!

This M Ratio was devised by a fellow poker player Paul Magriel and is named after him. This M Ratio is a measurement of a player’s stack in terms of how long the player can last in a tournament before being blinded out. It is devised by the total cost of every orbit in the tournament which includes the blinds and the antes.

The M Ratio helps players make their shoving or folding and starting hand selection decisions easier. It is a really helpful tool to have handy while playing tournaments. If you are interested in being a part of the tournament circuit and bagging some of those lofty pots.

So how do you calculate M Ratio?

The crux of the M Ratio poker is that it tells a player how many rounds they can last given their present stack size and the size of the blinds or the antes, depending on the game type.

So, in the M Ratio, the M is equal to the Size of the Stack divided by the Big Blind, the Small Blind and the antes.

The formula is thus:


Let’s take into consideration a tournament situation in which you have a thousand rupees in your stack. The small blind is ten rupees the big blind is twenty rupees and the antes to pay is one rupee. For the sake of the example, let us consider it a ten handed game.

The ante price is the total price of the all the players so it would be 1*10 = 10

M = Rs1000/ (Rs10+ Rs20+ Rs10)

M= 25

This means that you can last 25 rounds, assuming that the structure of the game remains unchanged. Which will not be the case because the blind level will keep changing, and the M will thus fluctuate accordingly.

How can you use the M Ratio to make your tournament decisions?

Calculating the M Ratio in itself does not provide much guidance for a tournament player, so let us see how you can use it to make other decisions in your game.

This M Ratio that has been calculated can be divided into different ranges. Each of these ranges can help us determine our tournament strategy.

1. M Ratio: Greater than 20

If your M Ratio is greater than 10 you are in a luxury zone and can choose whichever style you prefer to play. Whether that is a conservative approach or an aggressive one, both can work in your favor. You have sufficient time up your sleeve to wait it out for strong holdings. You also have a bit of freedom to play speculative hands and play aggressively. You can easily handle a couple of losses, and your stacks will still be deep enough.

2. M Ratio: Between 10 and 20

At this point with your M Ratio in a range of 10 to 20, there is a bit of pressure with regards to time on you. This M Ratio signals that it is time for you to start looking for places to get in the game and play a few hands. Some of your previously speculative hands now have a reduced amount of playability to them because of your smaller stack size. Buck up and get your head in the game before it is too late.

3. M Ratio: Between 6 and 10 

This M Ratio is where the pressure gets real, and you approach a more conservative play territory. Any kind of cold calling is futile and risky. Your main focus should mainly be on snagging the chance to be the first player in the pot whenever it is possible. If you are the only one open raising, you stand the increased expectation of fold equity. This fold equity can be very valuable for you as now every chip will start becoming very dear.

4. M Ratio: Between 1 and 6

This poor M Ratio means that you have effectively reached the push or fold stage of the tournament and you have just the two options available to you. In other words, you are either all in or all out, my friend.

5. M Ratio: Less than 1

Oh dear! This is an M Ratio that you want to avoid. Run! Duck! Hide! But get away. Oh, dear! This is an M Ratio that you want to avoid. Run! Duck! Hide! But get away from this stage. This is as good as being a sitting duck because you are dependent on luck at this stage. So, if you have reached here, start praying. Not all hope is lost though. You can still look for a spot where you are the first to act and go all in. You may just score big like a few other players who have won big tournaments on pure luck. But unless you are one of the anointed ones, this M Ratio means that your tournament life is likely over at this point.

Hopefully, this article will help you the next time you play a tournament. Using the M Ratio can really save your play and help you go a long way at the tables. Make sure to use it and tweak your personal tournament strategy.

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