SnG Strategy Week 2: Mid Game Aggression
Congratulations. You've made it to the middle stages of your SnG, where you continue to face 5 other opponents in addition to fighting against increasing blinds. Now, your work begins. How do you defeat the minefield and finish in the money while giving yourself an opportunity to place first for top prize?
While many will advocate that you should play for first once you get to this stage, I don't believe that is the correct answer here. My belief is that you should always play to place ITM, and then play for first once you are in the money. Because once you are in the money, too many things can happen, and it's entirely possible to go from first to third or third to first in the blink of an eye.
Mid game aggression is a concept that most players in SnG's generally don't grasp. And it is a huge leak in their game. And grasping this leak will help you to become a more consistent winner.
Part of grasping mid game aggression is understanding the chip stacks of your opponents, and having a solid understanding of their strategy during this stage as well. IE, if you are a big stack holding AA in early position, you can generally call to enter the pot and re-raise a steal from a late position middle stack and take the pot down while crippling his stack.
SHORT STACK STRATEGY:
As the short stack with an M of less than 10, your strategy is going to commit all of your chips to a hand. Your hand selection range is pretty wide here. Any PP, any 2 paint cards, any suited cards, any loosely connected straight cards. You don't want to make a play at a pot where multiple players have entered to a raise, you want to be the player initiating the action and "forcing" people to either call and risk doubling you up, or surrendering their blinds. It is not an ideal situation to be in, but, using this strategy with a small stack will provide you with the best opportunity for success.
AVERAGE STACK STRATEGY:
This is my favorite position to be in when I reach the middle stages of a SnG. Why? Small stacks are playing too wide a range of hands, and can be picked off fairly easily. Big stacks are generally raising with too wide a range of hands from any position in an attempt to take positional advantage away from the average stacks. And the average stacks are generally playing too tight, so as to not get knocked out without reaching the money. Here is your opportunity to take full advantage of these leaks in other players game, and abuse them every opportunity that you get.
Your strategy with an average stack should be simple. You don't want to be the one who doubles up a small stack, so I generally play tighter against small stacks than I do against average or big stacks. But, if you happen to be holding any of the premium starting hands in a pot where the small stack has shoved, well, then you have earned the right to pick them off. Against other average stacks, you want to bully them with your positional advantages PF, and approach with caution post flop when they try to take your positional advantage away from you and you have missed your hand. You don't want to risk becoming the short stack. And against a big stack, well, you pick your hand to pick on them with. They push in a standard 3x BB raise against your premium starting hand, you should shove them back. And actually, depending on your read of the deep stack, and how frequently they are open pots with a raise, you should generally be pushing them back with a large reraise any time you opt to enter a pot against you.
DEEP STACK STRATEGY:
This is the one that I most commonly see misplayed. You build a huge stack early, and then you automatically assume that everyone at the table is intimidated when you enter the pot because of your chip stack. So, you begin entering more pots to standard raises, and you lose more big pots than the small pots you win by stealing the blinds. While I agree that when you have position and no action in front of you, you should generally put in a raise to use your position against your opponents, I don't think there is another scenario where you should enter a pot from any other position unless you are holding a premium hand and a double up doesn't hurt your stack much and doesn't improve villian to a point that they are a threat. EX: You hold AK in EP+1. Your stack is 4900 and villians is 600 with blinds at 100/200. OK, you can call the all in in front of you, knowing that you still remain big stack at the table, and villians double up still leaves their M below 10, and their betting range doesn't change.
By no means is this all inclusive. It is just what I had the time to post at the moment. So, lets open the discussion.