How to beat SNG’s – Part 3 Bubble Play
It is better to make people think you are a bad poker player, then to play an remove all doubt. Don’t play to impress, play to win. Michael Gerzitz.
Mastering the Endgame in SNGs can be the most nerve-wracking and sometimes frustrating part of the game, and at other times it’s amazing and wonderful rewarding when you finally take down the first place after having outplayed everyone in the tournament. Analytically the endgame must be divided into two: Just before getting in the money usually called bubble play and in the money. The radical difference in gameplay is when you are at the bubble and not when you have reached the money!
When I play large multi table tournaments I don’t really care about the bubble it basicly doesn’t matter if bust before or after the bubble. That is actually only true in that sense that I don’t care if I bust I know a lot of other players play scared and therefore there is a lot of dead money to pick up out there from shorties you should here be especially aware of those players who time down every round when you are getting close to the money what they are saying is basicly I dont care I lose two thirdsof their stack – this is something you should exploit. The reason is this: in multi-table tournaments there are small prizes for those who reach the money typically a bit more than a buy-in while first price often is 100 x buy-in or more (typically about 20-25% of prize pool). And I don’t care that much if I can get my buy-in plus a few bucks back, if I think I can seriously increase my chances of hitting top 3 where the is serious money to collect!
The situation is very different in a SNG. In a typical 10-handed SNG with a buy-in of 10 + 1 $ the pricepool is as follows: 1st place $ 50 2nd place $ 30 3rd place $ 20 and 4th place NADA – nothing. So where you in a multi table tournament may be extremely careless about reaching the bottom of the money like like 15 to 20 dollars for an 10+1 dollar buy-in the situation is radically different in SNG’s. Third place consist of one fifth of the entire prize pool and therefore reaching the money should have a much greater impact on how you gamestrategy should change in the endgame in SNG’s when there are four players left in the game.
As I wrote in an earlier article I am an idiot when it comes to math, so I can’t really explain how this mathematically is exactly related mathematically, but I’ll try to explain it anyway: A given game has 15,000 chips in play. The total prize pool for this tournament is $ 100 ie. if all the money went to one player the chips had the following value 15,000 chips = $ 100. This is not case though â€“ calculating the value of the chips is way more complex! The prizes breaks down as I described above. Let’s take a very significant division of chips for the sake of eplanation:
Player A: 10,000, Player B: 3,000, Player C: 1,500, Player D: 500 If the game stopped here, and players got what their stack entitled them to according to a direct relation between chips and prize pool then Player A would get: $ 66,7 Player B: $ 20 C: $ 10 and D: $ 3,3. But the situation is this D’s stack of 500 chips are minimum worth $ 20 if one of the other players bust now! This is a VERY important factor in the game’s dynamics. The point is that one of Player A’s chips has lesser value than the other players’ chips. Therefore the strategy of bubble-play should be dependent on one’s chips in relation to the other players ‘stacks and blind size. I’ll try to explain what it means for my game when I’m respesctively deep stacked, medium stacked and short stacked.
Deep Stack Strategy – or ALL-IN on Any Two:
Being seriously deep on the bubble is the absolute funniest playing SNG. As I mentioned before the chips doesnt possess the same value as the players chip, it is much easier to gamble here. Let me give an example from real life. I sat and watched a video on YouTube with Gus Hansen, who played a tournament against some of the world’s best live players (loosely reproduced from memory). Gus Hansen had a huge chip lead and when one player busted, the rest would end on a final table with some serious Big Money. What happened? Gus moved all in 15 hands in a row – the funny detail was that Gus did not even bother to see what two cards he had. Why not? The reason was simple: The others were forced to fold unless they were willing to risk busting the tournament with 70-30 probability in their favor, especially when there were many thousands of dollars if they managed to advance one place and nothing for them if they busted now. This was and is a fact,Gus is well aware of and he knew that the other players at the table also was fully aware of this fact. To finish the story it ends when that short stack calls with A10s and Gus turns over 10-7o and he naturally spikes his 7. Was Gus’s game bad? In my opinion we had a tournament champion in action on the 15 hands, he gathered several more blinds than what he potentially lost against a call, and in this case he probably had 30% to win with any two random cards. That the 10 in Gus hand was covered just made this a masterful suckout. Being a massive chip leader in the bubble play means that you can and should be a bully and it’s actually quite entertaining to change your style from ABC poker to pushing all-in with all sorts of crappy hands.
But let us make a few more concrete example from the online poker world:
4 player. Blinds 300/600. UTG: 1200, Hero (button): 8,000, Small Blind 2500 Big Blind 2400 b (after the blinds are posted). Hero’s Hand: Junk (eg 27o)
UTG folds, Hero??
All-in. 900 in the pot, and neither the big blind or the small blind can (at least if they are stable winning players) call unless they have a high pocket pair. UTG is so shortstacked that it is simply not worthwhile to make a call here as in the next hand he will be reduce a big blind. Even if the players get AK or AQ is a mistake to call here and if they call here, the hero usually have more than 30% to take the pot down. If the hero loses the pot, he is still comfortable in the game, while the others are out if they lose. Action: SB and BB folds.
Next hand same table. Hero (UTG): 8900, Button 2500, 2100 Small Blind, Big Blind 600 (posted after the blank) Hero’s Hand: Junk (eg 72o)
This is an easy fold. Shortstacken can not be bullied out of this hand and there is absolutely no reason to go all in on a weak hand against a player that would call at least 90% of the time. Hero folds. However, unfortunately, this scenario button go all inn. The small blind calls and is all-in. Short Stack has 88 what should he do here. For any raise from a player he is forced to call even though he has 23o, but now there are two equivalence stacks up against each other and with the button, the 2500 indoor and small blind 2400 (including his small blind). This is a actually a fold with only one big blind left. Button displays A10o and Small Blind has kings. An ace hits the flop and the short stacl has survived the bubble and are now guaranteed a prize pool of $ 20.
Medium stack strategy – game of chicken!
This is definitely the hardest part of SNGs. This might seem strange considering that shortstacks has significantly harder reaching the money than medium stacks. The situation, however, is that it is the medium stack’s job to sustain himself in a position where he is relatively safe coming into money. The strategy is a ‘game of chicken’ the medium stack can not make a lot of moves, but the player should still try to maintain his stack as much as possible and hope the opportunity presents itself for a double. Where the standard play in the earlier part of the game might have been the right solution for certain hands – a fold or a cold call might now be the right answer to many similar situations with a medium stack on the bubble!
4 players. Blinds: 100/200 Villain / UTG (7800) Hero / button (3000) SB (2000) BB (1200) Hero’s hand:
Action: UTG raises to 500, Hero??
Jacks is a monster 4-handed, but you can not afford to lose your stack against AQ, AK, KQ, Ax, etc. You have a read on the Villain that he is a relatively loose player. A cold call is here my choice. SB and BB folds!
Villain bets 750, Hero (2000)??
This is an easy fold, what can Villain have: To be quite honest, I have no clue, but the flop came with an overcard he potentially could have hit and there is also a potential flush draw and straight draw and there is here only fold equity for a total bluff! There is to little reason to risk your opportunity to get in the money when you’re either way behind or slightly ahead (eg against As4s)!
Ergo Fold! Hero still has twice the stack of the shortstacker at the table – chicken play saves you a lot of money in the long run in this spot.
Villain bets 750, Hero (2000)??
Hero has just spiked his dream flop and therefore the hand should be played â€“ do not get fancy in this spot. Action: All-in. If Villain improves on later streets or actually has a better hand that’s just bad and the Hero busts on the bubble. If Villain instead of betting had checked to Hero I think this hand should still be played hard – a bet of 1000 would be fine â€“ maybe even a shove all in â€“ no matter what folding to a reraise is not an opportunity in this spot!
This is not an example that uniquely applies to relative monsterpar as 1010 to QQ, but also a hand like AK. If it was AK and not JJ the player called with in the two examples action should be reversed in the two examples so that the Hero would reraise all-in in Scenario 1 and fold in the second scenario. The only hands that can reraise from a theoretical perspective is actually aces and kings – just because the opponent is a loose Deep Stack, and the two others have relatively few chips.
However in practice it is not the biggest mistake to reraise JJ preflop, but I would not do it, and in this context I briefly must refer to another pokerpro who commented on this problem as a standard reraise all-in in his approach. It goes without saying that I don’t agree.
Let us look at one final example with the deepstack and the hero with medium stack. Hero still holds JJ. The deepstack goes directly all-in! Hero??
This is a crying fold unless you have a very specific read on Villain that says he only goes directly all-in with small to mmiddle pairs. The fact is that you are so close to the money and true you are in be in front of Villains hand range, but you can not allow you to call and be up against a coinflip in this situation.
However, there are also scenarios that are relevant in this situation which are not involving the deepstacke.
Same chip setup: UTG deep stack folds. Hero is sitting with one of the following hands 88 to JJ or A10 to AK on the button. Action: All-in – with 12.5 big blinds left and with a medium stack right after the Hero, it is important to emphasize that he can not steal your raise with a reraise! It is a structural mistake for him to call with semi-strong hands here, but it may be a brilliant move by him to reraise Hero all in, if he believes there is a relatively high chance of Hero folds! Let us take an example:
UTG (junk), Hero Button (2500):
Villain-SB (2400 +100 I SB):
BB (1000 +200 IN PA):
Action: UTG folds, Hero raises to 500, SB reraise 88 all in, BB folds, Hero??
Here, I believe that all players play perfectly – that is just by the book. Hero raises his strong hand, and if the big blind raises all-in is an easy call, but if SB reraise all in there is only one move possible: Fold! While the shortstack folds, and puts his expectations – quite correctly – that the two medium stacked beats each other out and thereby busts just before the money!
Action: Hero folds, Villain wins 800!
UTG folds. Hero pusher all-in. Villain folds (assuming that he is a good player). Short Stack calls. A10 is a monster for a short stack and he should choose his battles and this is one which he can’t avoid playing unlike the medium stacks the shortstack can’t fold himself into the money â€“ The short stack calls and it is a must call in this situation for him if he had the 8′s was the same situation!
Short stack strategy – pick the spot to move ALL-IN!
This part of the game might be emotionally frustrating, but it is relatively easy to play! Emotionally you feel maybe you have come so far and so close to the money, but in truth you are the one with the least chance of making it to the money. As a short stack you mostly end up in situations where one can expect a call and in some or the other way must expect facing a coinflip. Short stack strategy is about taking chances: Call your marginal favorites and pushing all in with hands which are at least marginally better than an average hand. It is quite essential here is that you want to move up to medium stack category! This could quickly lead to a related conclusion that you should go for the medium stacks, so that if you hit your ace or just makes it to the river as the best hand, then it is a medium stack that now will be short. The logic here is fine the problem is though that a short stack does not have the luxury of time â€“ and you would need that for targeting your battles. You are most likely forced to move all-in or call an all-in in the next 2 to 3 hands. As a short stack, there is only one thing to do, and it is to pick your spot and move all-in regardless of whether it be a call or a push.
Which hands to play and pushed all-in as first two act:
All pocket pairs
All hands with a face card or an ace.
Suited connectors from 45 +.
This is my range with less than 5 big blinds, but if the situation is this that one or two other players has the same amount as you and in bigblind is situated a blind deep stacked defending calling station then I would naturally narrow my range down to over average hands which will more often win when coming to showdown against random any two (eg low suited connectors is quite weak here).
What hands should you call! With a player already all-in it is a good idea to fold hands that you otherwise would have pushed all in – especially if the big blind is potcommitted to call or just super loose. I fold as a general rule, all small to medium suited connectors here if I can allow myself to fold chipswise. As I showed in an example above, had shortstacken great odds to call an all in, but chose to fold, as two equal stacks went all in and practically would either the one or the other bust in that hand. I would generally say that if you can get money to the middle through calling with pocket pair 6′s + A10 + you should be very content with yourself but depending on how low you are this should be modified down to all pocket pairs, any Ax, all hands containing 2 cards from 9 to king!
This is it for this Part 3 and if you made it to the money start to reading part 4 on optimizing you winning in the money – just click here
Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.