One of the most difficult concepts for new players to get when faced with escalating blinds in a tournaments is the ranges of hands players could be moving all-in with when their opponent is on the button and you’re sitting in the big blind with 33 or A4. Could they have nothing at all? Or are they simply shoving with monsters? Understanding their aggressiveness and chip stacks, along with your own can help you make the tough decision between calling that shove and letting it go for a better spot.

First, look at the chip stack of your opponent. If he’s sitting with an M of 3 or less (or roughly 3-5 big blind, depending on antes) you can safely assume any opponent will be shoving just about anything that has any showdown value; Q3s, 67h, K2o, anything except maybe the complete bottom of their range. This means you can profitably call shoves with hands as marginal as Kx, 109s, or Q7o, knowing your opponent is likely to be shoving almost any two cards. When they’re sitting on an M between 4-10, that’s when it gets trickier to determine what they could be shoving with; and when player image comes into play.

When determining your opponent’s aggressiveness, be general enough to where you can make a quick decision when you’re facing the shove. Are they wild and aggressive? They could be shipping the button with just about anything, still. Tight and passive? You’re probably still staring at a monster hand. Tricky and shifty? More likely to see either monsters or airballs than anything marginal, which they’d probably prefer to open with if their stack allows them to at all. The simple rule here? The more aggressive the player is overall, the wider your range can be in calling the shove. Use these two facts together, and you’ll become more adept at profiting when your opponents have to ship the button.