Guide to $3.50+.30 Short Stack SnG's on Full Tilt (or other site)
I wanted to write a guide on these SnG's because they can be very easy to beat. They are extremly soft if you can just have patience. The reason these are such a lucrative SnG is because with patience and well-timed aggression you can have a very nice ROI. And the pay out is $13.65 for 1st and $7.35 for second. They are still high variance games, but the lack of skill in the opponents you are facing gives you a big edge if you follow this guide.
First off, you are playing a short stack tourney, meaning you are starting with 10 BB's. You have 300 chips to start and the blinds start out at 15/30. So, hopefully it goes without saying, but you are either shoving or folding at the beginning of the SnG. DON'T LIMP EVER!!! I hope you received that "EVER" part, it's important! This is absolutely horrible in this type of game, even in the small blind with marginal holdings and everyone else has limped. What hands do you want to shove with? I prefer any PP and A9o+. In the beginning of the tourney suited cards really don't matter. And these starting hands you are shoving with will be called, and beat sometimes, by KJ, KT, QT (or pretty much any two paint cards). Don't see this as a reason to start shoving with those hands! You have no room for manuevering in this tourney, so toss the marginal hands in the muck and wait for better. It is completely possible to fold your way into the money in these low stakes SnG's, as most of these crazies playing with you are willing to get the chips in with ATC. Calling hands will include AJ+ and any PP. If there is a shove and another caller in front of you, only get your money in with high PP's (QQ or better), otherwise, just fold and wait for a better spot.
Once you get down to 4 players you can open your range slightly but you are still in push/fold mode. I like to start including any suited aces here, but that's about it. When it gets down to 4 players, hopefully you are in 1st or 2nd place, but this really doesn't matter. Don't start trying to push hands like KJ, KQ, QT through if you don't have at least a 3 to 1 chip lead over second place. It's just not worth it. If you find yourself in last place with 4 people left, then now is the time to button down. Go back to the beginning starting hands and fold everything else. More than likely, you will either catch a good hand and double up (which normally will put you in 1st) or others will go out putting you closer to the money.
With 3 players left it starts to get interesting. With a good chip lead (3 to 1 or better) you want to be pretty aggressive, especially in position. Now is when you want to start using raises instead of shoves as a weapon. Don't do it every time, because it can be very exploitable, but vary your raises between min-raises, 3x raises and shoves. Try not to get into the habit of only min-raising with 67s and shoving with pocket K's. Pay attention to the other players and their habits. If someone is raising everytime in blind on blind situations open up your shoving range. If they are folding to any re-raise, make a note of that and try to exploit it with decent hands. Don't play maniacal! You are just asking to lose if you are raising every hand or calling every raise. While being in the lead here is nice, sometimes you will find yourself in 3rd place. Again, you need to buckle down and try to stay out of the way of the other players. You need to go back to the starting hands from the beginning of the tourney and only get your chips in when you either have a good hand or when you find yourself so low that you have to make a move. When you are down that low, any suited connector or any two paint cards are good to call a raise or shove in a good spot.
Here is just luck of the draw. With a sizeable lead, you want to be aggressive but not stupid. In 2nd place, you want to be aggressive as well. Once again, NO LIMPING! I'm shoving with any two paint cards, any PP, and any Ax hand. Once the chips are in, the board will determine the winner. I'm calling a shove or shoving over a raise with any PP and A9+.
I hope that someone can get some use out of this guide. I love the action in these games and they can be very amusing to watch as well. Have fun and don't worry about bad beats in these. They are going to happen and that's just part of it. Just make a note on any player who makes a bad decision and go on. Good luck!