I have a very structured S&G strategy that I've found extremely effective up to the $30 limits.
Basically I break a S&G into 3 phases:
- The early stage
- The bubble
- The end game
THE BUBBLE -
- I over-raise with QQ, KK, and AA. With a 1,500 chip stack I raise to 250-300 with these hands. This eliminates my opponents implied odds, giving them only 5 or 6 to 1 odds. I know you're thinking that you will not get any action by raising so big: trust me, at these stakes people will call a raise that big with all sorts of hands.
- I limp in, or call a raise that is less than 10% of my stack, with 22-JJ. Basically I am playing these hands for set value only. I actually prefer playing these hands against a raiser. Since I am only playing for set value I want my opponents hand to be very strong so i can stack him off after the flop.
- I limp in with suited connectors 56-QK. I do not like calling a raise with these hands because suited connectors' good flops are draws, unlike pocket pairs that flop trips. Against a raise you will be faced with a larger bet on the flop, in limped pot the flop bet will be smaller, giving you the correct odds to chase your draw.
When the blinds reach a point where winning them will increase your chip stack by more than 10% it's time to start amping up your aggression level. What allows this tactic to work is the fact that you have been playing very tightly (assuming you stick to my early play strategy) and therefore will have a very strong table image. You will usually be able to attack three blinds before your ultra-tight image is eroded in your opponents minds.
Generally the blinds will represent 10%+ of your stack at the 50/100 level (if you were fortunate enough to double through early on than it may be later). This is generally the point in the tournament (50/100, 75/150, and 100/200 blinds) where the bubble becomes a factor. Many players will tighten up considerably in an attempt to make the money, no one wants to finish in 4th place!
When you combine this with your tight image you can see just how powerful a strategy this becomes.
The second part of the strategy is; you raise all-in anytime your chip stack is 9BB or less, and make a standard raise when it is 10BB+. The reason for this is twofold: First the all-in raise is less likely to be called, and second, with only 9BB left a standard raise has you virtually pot committed to any re-raise, so you may a well take the initiative and move in yourself.
On the other hand if you have 10+BB left you can make a standard raise, and have the option of folding to a re-raise without crippling yourself.
END GAME -
This is the time in the tournament where the most mistakes are made, for three reasons:
- Most players are unaccustomed to playing 2 or 3 handed, and don't know their hands value.
- The blinds are often at a point where your options are limited to push or fold.
- It is very difficult to change gears from bubble strategy to end game strategy.
How you approach this stage of the tournament is very dependent on your chip stack, and your opponent(s). The best way to approach this stage is to avoid attacking a desperate player (short-stack), or a player with a substantial chip advantage. Instead, focus on the player with the most to lose.
When you have a commanding lead you want to apply pressure to your opponents, here is a couple of scenarios for this situation:
- If they are both similarly short-stacked they will typically try to outlast each other for 2nd place prize money. this allows you to push almost every hand to take the blinds. In this scenario both players have a lot to lose.
- If one opponent is short-stacked and the other has a medium stack you can apply pressure to the medium stack. This player is just waiting for the short-stack to be eliminated before tangling with the chip leader. In this scenario, the medium stack has the most to lose.
When you are short-stacked you will also have to play aggressively to try and double through. your best bet is to attack the medium stack. The chip leader is more likely to look you up (especially if he has a large lead), the medium stack player usually will not look you up without a hand, for fear you will switch places. Again, the medium stacked player has the most to lose.
If you are the medium stack you want to attack the chip leader. Losing to you will take a large enough amount of his stack that he will not call very often. Where the short-stack will be more desperate and willing to take chances. In this case the chip leader has the most to lose.
I did a 3 part series on this topic (I copy and pasted parts for this post) you can click the link in my sig to read the full articles