Sit and Go Strategy Discussion?

skd1337

skd1337

Guest
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Total posts
181
What I am about to discuss is my general SnG strategy, which I am looking to adapt and improve through discussion.

Early Stages:

I generally play UBER tight. Like seriously tight. I am just trying to survive with as many chips as possible for later on in the tournament when I can use my stack to pick up blinds.

Unopened Pot:

In an un-raised pot, when it folds around to me, I will open the pot with only the top 10 hands in hold 'em. Which I consider to be:

  • AA
  • KK
  • QQ
  • AK
  • JJ
  • TT
  • AQ
  • 99
  • 88
  • 77

In early position, I will just limp with the 7's, 8's, 9's and AQ. In middle position I will open with all 10 hands. In late position, I will open the pot with all these 10 hands as well as a few extra hands like K-Q s and A-J s. I tend to raise 3 to 5BB depending on how many callers I pick up. I am aiming to get to the flop heads up making all post flop decisions easier.

In middle and late positions I will limp in with all other pairs, 2 suited paint cards (A, K, Q, J, T) A-X suited and any suited connectors above 6-7s. Just trying to flop a monster or a big draw. Don't play draws too strongly, check / call if out of position but ensure you are getting the correct price to call. Once again the theme is conserving chips.

Opened Pot:

When facing a raise, I fold almost everything, A-Q s and T-T are about the lowest I will call with. Obviously I am re-raising with A-A, K-K and QQ but I'm calling off with the other hands to see a flop. I never re-raise with A-K in the early stages as it is probably the most overplayed hand in NLHE and I feel caution is the best course of action early on. Once again conserving chips is key and try not to bust out with just top/top early on. I try to avoid all in confrontations during the early stages of the SnG unless I am holding A-A or K-K. I will probably fold Q-Q if there is excessive action PF early in a SnG. You might be sacrificing some equity by playing so tight but the key to SnG's is survival.

If you have limpers in front of you, I am only raising with A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, T-T & A-K. All the other top ten hands become a limp to see a cheap flop. I will limp in behind the earlier limpers with all other pairs, 2 suited paint cards, A-X suited and any suited connectors above 6-7s. Just trying to flop a monster or a big draw. Don't play draws too strongly, check / call if out of position but ensure you are getting the correct price to call.

Middle Stages

The middle stage of a sit and go varies. It depends on 3 key factors:

What is your M*?
How many players are left?
What is the structure like?

*M = SB + BB + (Ante x Players left)

I define the default middle stages of a tournament as the 50/100 level on Full Tilt. Usually there will be 6 or 7 players remaining at this point. How I play the middle stages of a SnG depends on how the first stage went. There are 3 common scenarios that occur at this stage. They are as follows.

Scenario 1:

I have hardly played and my stack will be about 1200 to 1500 chips at the 50/100 level. This meaning I have an M of 8 to10. This is the most common scenario using this system. You are still playing tight and desperately trying to keep hold of your chips, you are playing the top ten hands aggressively. Be cautious not to commit yourself to the pot with mediocre hands. If you raise and get called, be prepared to fold if you miss the flop and your opponent bets out. Try and leave yourself 7M in this scenario if you fold, that way you will employ the strategy in scenario 2. Try to stay ahead of the blinds by stealing pots more often from late position. Hopefully your tight image will help in this regard.

Scenario 2:

You played a hand or 2 and things didn't quite go according to plan. You will be short on chips and will probably have an M of 7 or less (Danger Zone!) In this situation you are looking to double up and quick. If you have 7M or less, if you are going to play a hand, you will be moving All in Pre flop in an attempt to either steal the blinds or play for a big pot. Candidate's for the shove include:
  • The Top Ten Hands
  • A-X
  • K-X s
  • Any 2 paint cards
  • J-T s
  • 9-T s
  • K-T
  • Q-T s
  • any pocket pairs

You are using the fold equity of your stack to try and add to your stack. It is still important to have a bit of a hand to push with in case you do get called and have to showdown. More often that not you will find yourself on the harsh end of a 60/40, which is a decent price to double up. Limping is completely out of the question and you should only push in an unopened pot. If there Is action in front of you, I would still fold all but the top 10 hands, K-Q s and A-J s.

The Last factor is making a stand. If you find yourself with an M of 5 or less – DO NOT TAKE THE BLINDS. Find an excuse to get your chips in. In an unopened pot, I tend to try and find 2 cards that add up to 18 or more using the blackjack counting system. Push all in with any 2 cards under the gun rather than taking the blinds. If you do take the blinds then you will be in danger of folding your tournament and fold equity away. To quote Amir Vahidi “To live, you have to be willing to die”

Scenario 3

You picked up a couple of decent hands or your big hands held up and things are going well. An M of 15+ is a great situation to be in. This is when I go into small ball poker mode. I will be raising lots of hands in lots of positions and making lots of jab bets at pots. Generally I will raise an unopened pot with any 2 cards that will play well after the flop in any position for 2.5BB. Hands I will raise with roughly include:

  • Top Ten Hands
  • A-X
  • K-X s
  • Any Pairs
  • Any Suited Connectors
  • Connectors 7-8 and above
  • Semi Suited Connectors 5-7 and above
  • Any 2 paint cards

I will also be leading out on the flop whether I hit or not with a half pot bet. I will be making the same bet with nothing as I will the nuts. Be prepared for players to push in on you, but try to avoid by confrontations. See Daniel Negreanu's guide to small ball poker on Youtube for more in depth discussion of the small ball system.

The Bubble

I feel the bubble is played wrong in SnG's. It is practically the mirror opposite of the bubble in MTT games. I almost completely shut down on the bubble as long as I am not the shortest stack left. If I am the shortest stack I am waiting for a top ten hand to get my chips in. I am just trying to eek into the money as that is the profitable play in SnG's

End Game

Once the bubble has burst I revert to small ball or pushing stack strategy and I gamble to win the SnG. If I make it to heads up I play a very aggressive style of play as the blinds are so big aggression is key.

That is basically my strategy. It has worked great for the first 500 games on Full tilt but I have not had as much success in the last 500 games. Over 100 games I have kept an ROI of 7% at $10 SnG's and I would like to see that number rise to 15% or better over the next 1000 games. Discuss!
 
ChuckTs

ChuckTs

Legend
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Total posts
13,642
Well written; I like everything but your points on the bubble.

Squeezing into the money is terrible - we should always always be playing for 1st place, and that means attacking the weak-tight players and the medium-sized stacks with no remorse. I find it almost ironic how your article contains only one or two sentences on what I (and many others) consider to be the most important point in a STT.

The difference between 3rd and 1st is massive and again you should always be shooting for 1st and never trying to squeek into the money.

  • Connectors 7-8 and above
  • Semi Suited Connectors 5-7 and above
Just a tidbit; not really sure why you're playing with connectors 78 and better, but you're playing one-gappers down to 57?
 
skd1337

skd1337

Guest
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Total posts
181
oops connectors were supposed to be 45 and above.

Im not sure about the bubble - what you have described is exactly right in an MTT rapind the blinds on the bubble is correct but in a sit and go it is irresponsible.

Howard Lederer said:
The payout structure rewards tight play. Most SNG's pay 50% to first, 30% to second, and 20% to third. This payout structure dictates that you play for third. Why? Looking at the payout structure another way might help. Basically, the payout means that 60% gets awarded once you are down to three players, 20% gets awarded when you get down to two players, and the final 20% gets awarded to the winner. If you can just get to third, you get at least one-third of 60% of the prize pool, or 20%. You've locked up a profit, and you have a chance to win up to 30% more. It's only now that you're in the top three that your strategy should take an abrupt turn. Now it pays to gamble for the win.

that is my argument for eeking in rather than aggro blind raping in a Sit N Go.
 
ChuckTs

ChuckTs

Legend
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Total posts
13,642
Well as cocky as this seems, I disagree somewhat with Lederer here :)

If we're playing weak-tight enough that we're giving ourself a significantly lower chance of taking first, but a significantly better chance of squeeking into 3rd, then I definitely disagree with him.

If we're doing it because we know we can dominate our opponents through aggressive play after we squeek into the money without having to risk bubbling out, well...then, still actually disagree with him. If we're strong enough to be able to do that, then we should be doing it (small-ball style) during the bubble to take advantage of the weak-tight players and building a stack to give us a good chance at actually winning the STT.

Yes we will be busting out on the bubble more often and our ITM will be lower, but our ROI, winrate and profits will be much higher.
 
DaveE

DaveE

Legend
Champion
Joined
Mar 8, 2007
Total posts
14,181
Awards
23
CA
Nice post. I have to agree with Chuck though, squeezing into the money is not the way to go. The only it would make sense is if you're playing with money that you can't afford to lose...which is a really bad idea to start with.
 
Q

quads

Guest
Joined
Mar 25, 2007
Total posts
414
Everything you said sounds good, of course if everything falls into place. You do cover a great deal of ground, and also set the basis for a planned strategy. Yet, many more complicated scenarios can and will occur. In order to cover them all, you would need to write a book.

I agree with tight early. But dislike the idea of folding, limping, or raising, with a pre-determined list of playable cards. (even if it's only early)

After two tight rounds, I believe you should be able to get a good feel for the table. Especially if you played against an opponent or two in the recent past. A tight table, loose table, mixed table, all require an adjusted game. A well played SNG game is usually based on how fast you are able to determine your surroundings, and your play adjustment. Lets say your still in it with five players left, the game and all your opponents play can take a complete 180 degree turn, requiring a new adjustment. Similar to your change of strategy as the game deepens.

As far as playing the bubble, there is no way to pre-determine that play. The situation created from hand to hand, with the blinds flying buy will in most cases dictate what has to be done. With having the monster stack being the one exception.

Thinking things out always a good thing. Read your post well, but didn't get crazy with it. This response is what came to me rather quickly, and I will review this even more tomorrow. Tired and don't feel like typing anymore.

Seven percent profit not a bad thing.
 
skd1337

skd1337

Guest
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Total posts
181
OK guys there are some really good discussion points here.

I want to stress, this is only a rough guide, I don't stick religiously to it - with the hand guides, I use them as a general guide or starting point if you will. The bubble is play I describe is a basic ideal of what I think to be a good play, but It's not like I play that way regardless of situation. If I get to around 7M im moving in with Q8 s if needs be to stay ahead of the blinds.

Gank jungblood described the bubble as like the tour de france - everyone in the front pack tries to stay together, and as one person drops the others push up and the guy has to fight his way to the front again. So if someone is shorter than me I will think twice about jeopardising my tournament with AQ with a shorter guy about to eat the blinds.

I found I used to bubble alot when I first started as I was too short and had to push once too often and got picked off, So I started to try and accumulate chips when there were 6 or 5 players left instead - seemed to work pretty well, and I just never really stopped doing that.

If I happen to be the chip leader and things have gone well, i contine with small ball poker right through the bubble to 3 way and hopefully heads up. If you have the chips to do it this is a great way off accumilating chips on the bubble but this really tight style of play often see's you pushing to survive rather than having the luxuory of small balling your way to HU.

Quads mentioned that the bubble is so different everytime that there is no way to determine correct bubble strategy, which I agree with in some sense as within the space of 5 hands you could go from short, to big and back to short stack again so constantly shifting your game is key. I just keep in my mind that making the money is the most important thing.
 
Debi

Debi

Forum Admin
Administrator
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Total posts
70,655
Awards
20
Nice thread skd - and some good responses as well. I am about to give sng's another run after not playing many for a while so I like this thread and the debates within it.
 
skd1337

skd1337

Guest
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Total posts
181
Nice thread skd - and some good responses as well. I am about to give sng's another run after not playing many for a while so I like this thread and the debates within it.

thanks man, i hope it goes well for you!
 
Insomniac_1006

Insomniac_1006

Visionary
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Total posts
561
What I am about to discuss is my general SnG strategy,

I like that you have taken the time, and thought, to formulating a strategy. Maybe someday I will be able to do that...

Question? Is the Blackjack counting system where A-10 = the number on the card, Face cards=10 and Ace high=11?
 
Last edited:
skd1337

skd1337

Guest
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Total posts
181
yeah pretty much -

A = 11
K, Q, J, = 10
everything is self explanitory. Also see the +EV hands guide from SNGstrategy. I found it this morning after getting a reply on my blog - its pretty cool. I like this system for pushing with a 7M stack.

enjoy
 
Insomniac_1006

Insomniac_1006

Visionary
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Total posts
561
I assign a value of
J=11
Q=12
K=13
A=14

Will post a vid in the videos section. Gus Hanson explains later in the clip.
 
skd1337

skd1337

Guest
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Total posts
181
yeah i remember seeing that on TV ages ago, is the going all in series?

in that case it has to add up to 21.
 
skd1337

skd1337

Guest
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Total posts
181
lol, i just use man as the same suffix as dude. Wasn't meant as gender specific as daft as it sounds

:D
 
P

ph_il

...
Joined
Feb 5, 2005
Total posts
9,845
Awards
1
I like to use a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type of approach at SnGs and the bubble.

For most of the SnG, especially the earlier rounds, Im Dr. Jekyll. Im playing very tight-aggressive, playing my position, etc. As the blinds go up and the more players are eliminated, I'll loosen up my game a bit and open my range of hands. Nothing to extreme, Im still in Dr. Jekyll mode. When its the bubble, thats when things change and I become Dr. Jekyll. I'll do a complete 180 and take a more aggressive approach. I'll raising big PF, pushing a lot on the flop with draws, top pair, and really forcing my opponent to make a decision for their chips. If there is a tight/weak player looking to squeeze in, I'll really put the pressure on that opponent as long as they keep on folding and giving up the pot to me. Or until they get fed up and make a stand, but sometimes its with a very weak hand or their stack is so low I can call with ATC and hope to win.


 
aliengenius

aliengenius

Cardschat Elite
Joined
Jul 7, 2006
Total posts
4,596
You have to make a distinction between calling and open shoving when talking about what hands you are willing to "play" on the bubble as the short[er] stack.
Here is an interesting article re bubble play in SNGs.
 
B

Bentheman87

Guest
Joined
Sep 6, 2007
Total posts
794
Great topic and some great posts. To the topic creator: You have a very solid game strategy and it's similar to the one I use. However, even early on in the tournament, I'd be a bit more aggressive with AK or AQ, they are strong hands and and you should put them in the same category as AA KK QQ JJ 10 10 99 88 77. Also, you said you shove all in even in the orange zone (M between 5 and 10). I disagree with that, you are getting desperate, but not so desperate to shove with ace - x or king - x. I usually would wait until my M is bellow 5 to be using the all in preflop strategy.
 
P

pokerbum

Rising Star
Joined
Jan 4, 2007
Total posts
15
I think you can make a case for your view on the bubble for sng's when you're playing with wildly loose players that are catching cards like crazy, you know like one of those tables that cracks your aces twice in one session with really crazy calls that hit straights!
 
skd1337

skd1337

Guest
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Total posts
181
Great topic and some great posts. To the topic creator: You have a very solid game strategy and it's similar to the one I use. However, even early on in the tournament, I'd be a bit more aggressive with AK or AQ, they are strong hands and and you should put them in the same category as AA KK QQ JJ 10 10 99 88 77. Also, you said you shove all in even in the orange zone (M between 5 and 10). I disagree with that, you are getting desperate, but not so desperate to shove with ace - x or king - x. I usually would wait until my M is bellow 5 to be using the all in preflop strategy.

Maybe I didn't make myself clear about the orange zone plays I make, which wouldn't surprise me with my english skills. It gets to the point around 7M where If I want to play a hand I use the open shove, But I still play fairly tight poker, I look down at KQs I'm all in, same goes for like A9s but I would wait until the 5M mark to open shove with K10os. I just feel that if I raise 3BB with only 7M means I am close getting committed and I dont want to let a big stack in cheap to catch and knock me off. I dont want to commit 30% of my stack to a pot only to catch a bad flop and think about folding, Most of the time the chips are going in on the flop regardless, so I may aswell cut out the middle man and use the fold equity of my stack all at once.

Regarding the bubble play, I am going to read that ICM article that AG posted because it looks really interesting. But at the minute I rarely call on the bubble as is, I mean I'll make up the big blind from the SB because of the odds but other than that I mainly raise or Fold. This article might change my mind though.

I am enjoying all the discussion :D
 
zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
I agree with the play to money strategy. 20% is a significant profit to the 10%+rake you pay. I'm not an advocate of folding KK to action on the bubble because you might be beat and you want to make the money, but if you have a hand like TT or AJ and see action on the bubble, I throw it away easily. Sure most of the time you probably have them beat, but it goes both ways.

1. Chip leader when it gets down to 3 doesn't always win, or even come in the top 2.
2. Short stack can still win the sng.
3. 3rd place automatically gets at least 20%.

I often find myself either massive chip leader (if I doubled up once or twice early on and am now playing the big stack, amassing chips) or squeaking in on the bubble (and yes, once in a while I don't money :)). I've won from both positions, and I've come in 3rd in both. I prefer the conservative approach that virtually guarantees you top 3. If you take a shot and miss you get 0 money and if you take the shot and win, you've still got to knock people out to get more money than you would have from just sitting back and waiting. I don't have anyone famous to quote but that's my logic for playing to money.
 
Genso Hikki

Genso Hikki

Cardschat Elite
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Total posts
1,279
I just want to say I used your "on the bubble" tips in a $3, 45 person sit-n-go this morning. I was mid-stacked stacked when we got down to 10 (it paid out 7 places). I shut it down and managed to make the money. Once we got down to 7 I turned it back on and managed to finish 4th. I will say that although I think staying out of the action may have prevented me from being knocked out out of the money, it also made it almost impossible for me to win. By the time we got down to 5 players I was impossibly short stacked, forced all in with every halfway decent hand.

So I think I have some refining to do - but it was helpful advice, so thanks!
 
pigpen02

pigpen02

Legend
Joined
Aug 5, 2007
Total posts
2,978
Originally Posted by Howard Lederer
The payout structure rewards tight play. Most SNG's pay 50% to first, 30% to second, and 20% to third. This payout structure dictates that you play for third. Why? Looking at the payout structure another way might help. Basically, the payout means that 60% gets awarded once you are down to three players, 20% gets awarded when you get down to two players, and the final 20% gets awarded to the winner. If you can just get to third, you get at least one-third of 60% of the prize pool, or 20%. You've locked up a profit, and you have a chance to win up to 30% more. It's only now that you're in the top three that your strategy should take an abrupt turn. Now it pays to gamble for the win.

I miss those percentages big time. How does the 60% being awarded to the top three affect you? YOU get 20% for third, another 10% for second, and another 20% for first. However, if you take out the entry amount (not the fee), you are getting 10% for third, another 10% for second (double net third), and another 20% for first (quadruple net third). That initial 60% doesn't count as yours unless you say you have to give 20% to the other two as they finish.
 
Makwa

Makwa

Undesirable Predator
Joined
Sep 30, 2007
Total posts
6,080
Although I understand the 'always play for 1st' argument, to a point, I am now focusing on just making bubbles, meaning I have made some incredible laydowns recently.

BUT... I see it this way: I am cashing in some 50% of SNGs I play, so I at least double my money (say a buck) half the time, I am playing for free. My first and second finishes are pure gravy.

Also, psychologically, it helps every time you make the bubble and chalk up another 'win.'

Not sure of my ROI at this point, but is certainly way above 7% in tourneys and SNGs combined.

My problem recently has been pushing marginal situations when getting near the money Gotta stop doin that.

Good thread.
 
Top