How to beat SNGs – Part 4 In the Money
I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be. Douglas Adams
In the Money
Finally – 3 players left! I god damn’ won! Now it’s just about getting the dimes into the middle and just pray that I will take the first place! This is a mentality that I have seen numerous times by many players … It is not a winning mentality, but a babbling mediocre attitude that characterizes a lot of hobby players. I think so far that there is nothingÂ wrong with this attitude, but it’s not the mentality needed to become better and be a winner.
Let us take an example from the world of soccer. Let’s go back to 2005 and have a look on the final game in Champions League. The date is the 25th of May. 45 minutes had passed and Milan had crushed Liverpool 3-0 in the first half. I don’t know what really happened in the halftime â€“ but Milan came out with an attitude of already having won the game while the Reds came out with the eager to fight on you probably allready now but the winner attitude that characterized Liverpools approach was paying of and when Gerrard scored a goal in 54th minute of the game the Milans ‘We have already won’ attitude made them panic and in the next 5 minutes Liverpool intensified, targetted the weakness and made two more goals – equalizing the game. In the end Liverpool took down the match on penalties. I do not think winning mentality is the only element that makes a good SNG player, but it is very crucial that you dare to take chances, try to outplay the others and not just wait for aces falling from the sky ( you get aces in approx. 1 out of 220 hands). Naturally, abilities is equally important, for example, the soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo and the Tennis Player Rafael Nadal both posseses winning mentality and amazing technical skills. Perhaps it might seem that comparisons between football, tennis and poker is far out, but it’s actually not! This is about fundamental sports mentak abilities.
In the first phase of the SNG it is often a good idea to play a little hesitant and aggressively with your monsters. This is often characterized as a tight-aggressive playing style. When you’re in the money you rarely have the opportunity or the luxury to sit back and wait for a monster hand in this part of the game you must loosen up, claimed a constant attacks will and confrontational approach. The Tight-Aggressive player will unless he keeps picking up monsters be blinded out. The reason is this: he does not steal enough blinds and does not protect his own blinds enough, ergo he loses chips instead of build his stack. Let me give an example on how a game in the money could develop.
Player A, B and C all have 4,000 chips when they come into money. The first 7 hands goes as follows. Blinds 200/400
Hand 1) A (utg) goes all in with 8jo. B folds q10s. C folds A2o.
Stacks: A 4600 B 3800 C 3600th
Hand 2) Player B (utg) goes all in with 89 suited. Player C folds a3s. Player A folds 72o.
Stacks: A 4200 B 4400 C 3400th
Hand 3) Player C (utg) folds 9Qo. Player A goes all in with 22nd Player B folds 9J suited.
Stacks: A 4600 B 4000 C 3400th
Hand 4) Player A goes all in with 45 suited. Player B folds 73 suited. Player C folds K9o.
Stacks: A 5200 B 3800 C 3000th
Hand 5) Player B folds 23o. Player C folds 56 suited. Player A wins the hand.
Stacks: A 5400 B 3800 C 2800th
Hand 6) Player C folds 35 suited. Player A goes all in with 45 suited. Player B folds 4Jo.
Stacks: A 5800 B 3400 C 2800th
Hand 7) Player A goes all in with Q2o. Player B folds. And player C calls in Ajo.
What just happened here. Of course player C calls with Ajo, as it is a monster in particular against such a super aggressive player as A. But who played the best. Looking isolated at the hand the natural conclusion that it is a stupid all-in from Player A he will almost only get called by a better hand. And that is exactly what happened here. Player A has about 34% chance of winning the hand, while player C has just over 65%. C is a huge favorite. But does this means that C has played the best game? If you look at this single hand isolated the answer would be well played dude – but that would be without the dynamics of the game and if you are taking the dynamics into consideration another picture merges. All three players started with 4000 chips. Player A will now be reduced to 3000 chips if he loses, while player C is out, if player A manages to suck out. Player A risks lose 25% of his starting stack, but has 34% chance to win … When I point out the development it is precisely to show that player C has blinded himself out and is now getting back into play but he is by no means as super favorite stackwise in the SNG if he wins. The point is not that A plays well, but that C plays a losing strategy. A is in my oppinion overaggressive, which might be a good idea if you play against too tight opponents, but if you play against loose opponents, who likes to call an all in this strategy is not the optimal one. B raises all in a single time in the above scenario and I personally prefer to have somewhere between A and B’s style of play. But it’s hard to balance, how much to raise, and how your opponents react against it. My opponents in this part of the game are very often good competent players and the mistakes they maker are minor and the structural mistakes are extremely difficult to exploit at high blinds, but there are certain factors you can use once in a while. There is two types of players I think can be effectively exploited here, the tight aggressive player and the loose passive. However the lower the blinds are the easier it is.
1) The tight aggressive player is characterized by being a player who is in relatively few hands and play the hands he chooses aggressively. Against this type of player, one must be aware that his strong hands are usually well above average and that pushing a tight aggressive player of a hand is not something that is done easily. There is a strong likelihood that you will end all-in either preflop or on the flop against this type of player if you choose to play a hand where he has shown aggression preflop. The hands he’s playing are solid ones. The tight aggressive player’s strength is that he takes advantage of weaker players who like to play too many hands. The weakness of the tight aggressive playing style is that you do not get enough ‘solid’ hands in the end game to be able to protect your stack. This can be exploited, especially if the blinds are relatively low. Against this type of player you should raise practically all hands, but there is no reason to raise directly all in, often just above the minimum raise pre-flop which should be enough to take down the pot and if he pushes all in, then just fold unless naturally you are sitting with a pretty strong hand. This technique can be used to exploit the tight aggressive player in the end game as he plays too few hands – though it should be mentioned that the tight aggressive style of play is a very reasonably style of play very far into a SNG tournament. A rule of thumb is that a good aggressive player gradually adjust his game by participating in more and more hands as the number of players decreases at the table.
2) The loose passive player is a trappy cousin. Often so trappy that he outplays himself. He is characterized by playing too many hands that he rarely raises before the flop he open-limps (ie call the big blind as the first) or calls raises with weak hands and he usually have no understanding of position. There may be some sense in the open-limping in the beginning of the game to hit his small pocket pairs or suited connectors, but it is a vital in in the endgame where you don’t have the odds to call – only raise or fold as the the first to act. The archetypal loose passive player doesn’t raise or reraise toppar but prefers to call it down and when he has flush- or straightdraws they are also just called down and generally it is just absolute monsters he (re)-raises. Often he also calls middlepair or ace high down and I think if you go into the psyche of this type of player, you will find that what tricks him is that he gets a serious adrenaline rush to call and bust a bluff with a mediocre hand â€“ it simply makes his day. If you compare it with blackjack, it is often the player with J8 while dealer holds open card 7, who asking for an extra card to hit 21 (dealer must stop at 16 or 17). Just as he will usually lose at blackjack, you should ensure that he does the same in poker. Raise him, and ideally low and value bet your monsters (toppar / overpair), but be very careful if he calls your continuation bet on the flop and you hold mellempar or ace high. You will most likely not be able to bluff him out – and virtually never on the turn, but a few times on the river if he has not hit his flush or straight – if he has a pair he calls a river bet. So against this type it is important to play your cards very very straightforward – bet your good hands – check your weak. He is trappy, let him not trap you only himself.
Often the headsup games are pretty simple games! Blinds are so high that the action goes as follows: Small blind goes all in, big blind folds or calls. Next hand same!
Let’s say the blinds are 400/800. Player A has 4000 chips and Player B 6000. Player A is in the Small Blind and is going directly all-in. Player B sits with K10 suited. He knows that this is a move player A will do with virtually any two cards. There are 4800 in the pot and it cost him 3200 to see. For me it’s a easy call. K10 suited is an above average hand and even when it is behind, it is rarely that far behind. Mostly though it is ahead and in certain cases the hand is way better than your opponents holdings (K with worse kicker and there are many possible all-in combinations with 10, which is worse than the king). Facing super high blinds it is all about pushing all in or calling top 30% of all hands. If one’s opponent, however, simply call the big blind, then I don’t need to have a very strong hand to push all-in. IMPORTANT. Some players raise every hand in the endgame except when they are holding serious monsters then they just call, be aware of atypical behaviour, and if he once traps you with this reversed style of play then make a note on him and do not go into the same trap again when you play him next time!
If you do not play with huge blinds it is possible to play a sensible game of heads-up. Here it is important to adjust your preflop raise. For example, if the blinds are 100/200, and player A sits with 4,000 and B with 6,000, I would think a preflop raise up to 2 ½ x the big blind is right. A clickraise might be fine as well.
Example A player will play his hand in the small blind. He raises to 500 B calls and the flop reads at 3 random cards. There are now 1000 in the pot and B check and A bet somewhere from 400 to 700. If B calls then A must reevaluate whether he has a strong enough hand to bet on the turn, or whether he could bluff him to the pot (but this move will basicly set most of A’s stack on risk), or if he should give up with a smaller, but not devastating loss if the river is not a magic card!
Just by keeping the pot relatively small on the flop, you can easily control the events of the battle. Let us say that A had instead made a raise of 700 or 800, so the pot was in the range of 1400-1600 then a continuation bet would be somewhere between 600 to 1200, which is a huge amount to lose if B has hit the flop and A does not have a hand worth playing after the flop. Pot control is one of the main reasons that I will propose a raise to maximum 2 ½ x the big blind. The second reason is that 2 ½ x the big blind should suffer to take the pot down preflop is that most good players know that it is very difficult to play out of position, and their reaction to a raise is usually is usually fold or reraise, therefore it is good idea to make the preflopraise as low as possible. If you have a monster and your opponent reraise you then it’s just to the middle of the table with your chips and if you have a weak holding just fold - Easy game!
Player A with 3,900 chips in the small blind with 9Ko. Blinds 100/200.
A raise to 500 B with 5800 chips reraise to 1700 Easy fold! A loses 400 on this hand.
A with 3,900 chips in the small blind with AQo. Blinds 100/200.
A raise to 500 B with 5800 chips reraise to 1700. Here it is an easy all-in unless you have a very very definite read on your opponent as someone who only reraise top 5 hands, when you are heads-up. Even in that specific scenario I would personally have a very hard time not pushing all-in you must be better than me to keeping your natural instincts from shoving here if you got such a strong read
SNG Strategy: Turbo or normal speed?
The difference between normal and turbo speed is basicly how long the blinds levels lasts. Typically normal Sit’N'Go’s blind levels lasts for 10 minutes, while turbo Sit’N'Go’s have between 3 to 5 minute levels. There will typically be higher variance in Sit’N'Go turbo’s, and one should not expect to have an equally high ROI (Return Of Investment) in Turbo as in normal speed, but it should level off in and with that you can play from 2 to 3 times as many tournaments during the same time as you can in normal speed Sit’N'Gos. For me, it is often temperamental issue what I choose to play. Sometimes I simply do not feel like spending 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours on a Sit’N'Go – sometimes I am too much of an action-junkie to do that – then rather a ½ hour 45 minutes on a turbo, but there is one crucial factor that should have a great impact on whether you choose the one or the other.
If your structural game is perfect before the flop, but you do have problems and often makes mistakes on the flop or one of the following streets, then drop the normal Sit’N'Go’s and focus on turbo! Conversely, if you make some minor structural defects, but is pretty good at reading your opponents’ moves on the flop and you’re good at exploiting others’ weaknesses, then drop the turbo SNGs and focus on normal speed, here the structural mistakes are to some extent compensated for your reads and ability to outplay your opponent post-flop. The explanation is simple in normal speed Sit’N'Go’s you are in a long time forced to play a relatively small pots where there is a lot of trouble situation, should you fold, call or (re) raise – it is fra from always straightforward. If – however you master both aspects of the game, then you end up in the luxurious position where the choice of game type most depends on what mood you’re in.
To be quite honest, this has never been an issue I’ve thought deeply about. It has not been relevant for my game because I have always ‘bankroll’ to the games I’ve played. But let me give you an idea of how to handle bankroll management in Sit’N'Go’s. Let’s say a particular player is brand new or have busted his roll! The player put $ 100 into a poker account. How much can he play for? My suggestion would be $ 1 Sit’N'Go’s and I will play exactly 100 Sit’N'Go’s and then take your game up to evaluation. Of course you’ll see on your account whether you are plus or minus, but there is a website which is really good to describe your Sit’N'Go game, which is partially free: www.sharkscope.com. On this page you can search virtually all players and find data on how much the various players’ lifetime earnings is how much the average win or lose, how many Sit’N'Go’s they’ve played and how much the average play for. 5 searches per day are free. Newly it has come to my attention of another site which provides the same quality service if not better, and that www.propokerlabs.com . On these pages there is one parameter that I think should be crucial for your decision on whether you should move up (or down) in the buy-in. This parameter is the ROI (Return of Investments). Of course you should move down in buy-in if you’re losing if possibel – I hope it explains itself. But when do you graduate? Here I make a small suggestion list for how you should handle your level in relation to your ROI:
Buy-in and ROI (after a minimum of 100 games – ideally 500 to 1000 games)
Buy-in up to $ 50
Go down to level. If you play the lowest possible stay there or play games for free instead.
Buy in up to $ 50
Stay where you are! You are about to master the level, but stay a little longer don’t rush it. Exception if you play at lowest stakes at sites like Full Tilt or Stars, they take 20% in entrance fee, you might improve your ROI by moving up to next level with a relatively lower entrance fee.
Buy in up to $ 50
Lovely â€“ nice healthy income level! You should start considering whether you are ready for a higher level and take a couple of shots at the level above, but it’s also okay to stay where you are until your roll has grown a little bit more and you feel more comfortable with the higher level.
Buy-in up to $ 50
ROI: over 16%
You Rock! You will most likely make much better money at the level above
Buy-in $ 50 and higher
Go down in buyin!
Buy-in $ 50 and higher
Stay where you are, if your ROI is closest to 0, maybe you should consider going to a lower stake it might increase your income, but it might also be a good idea to stay where you are and use the tougher resistance on the tables to perfectionize your game – you are after all in plus!
Buy-in $ 50 and higher
Very nice income level. Basically stay where you are, but also okay to take a few shots at levels above and see if you can maintain that level and to evaluate whether the resistance is significantly harder there than where you are now!
Buy-in $ 50 and higher
ROI: over 11%
A very strong ROI. There are not many who just throw money out the window at these levels, and to beat your opponents so bad at this level should mean that you can easily catch up with them at a higher level.
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