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Sit-n-go strategy in Texas holdem tournaments is dynamic. SnG events involve one single table full of competitors. It’s like you’ve joined in on the final table of a freezeout tournament. Crafting a strategy for this situation can be difficult, because players may not have played against any of these opponents before. Because you don’t have a book on these players’ habits, it’s natural to focus less on the competition and more on your strategy.
This can be a treacherous way to play poker, oblivious to your surroundings. In this article, I’m going to suggest you have an idea for your Texas hold’em strategy, but pay attention to what’s happening at the table and adapt your strategy to the changing conditions. A sit and go tournament is poker life in microcosm, so you should put all your poker skills to good use when playing these events.
The standard prize pool for a sit n go tournament is 50% for 1st place, 30% for 2nd place, and 20% for 3rd place. When deciding on a strategy, it’s best to determine what your overall outlook is going to be. Some gamblers try for 1st place, seeing it pays 2.5 times more than a third place finish. By this logic, you finish out of the money more, but you have more margin for error, if you push it. If you pay in 11% to the point each tournament, you need to win once every 4 to 5 events (though that’s hard to do). Assuming you’ll occasionally strive for 1st and end up 2nd or 3rd, a more realistic goal is to win once every 7 turbo events (or roughly 14% of the time) to be profitable. Again, that’s not easy, but good players should win more than 10% of the time. If you choose this grand strategy, aggression is your watchword.
If you prefer to place in the top three, then your strategies are going to be less aggressive. Many of your tactics will be based on survival. You’re hoping to make the cut. These players play tighter and hope to grind out wins here and there while opponents knock each other off. If you use this strategy, your aim is to finish in the top three every other sit’n go or, more realistically, every 2.5 turbo events.
At the start of a Texas holdem sit and go event, observe your opponents early on. Take down a few notes and sketch a quick profile of these players. If you play at this site a lot, see if you already have a scouting report on any of these players. Use any available site stats to draw a profile on them. Get in your head which play aggressive, which play tight, and which are simple maniacs. Get a general idea of the makeup of your table. This allows you to be flexible with your strategy.
If you have several aggressive players at the table at once, it’s best to tighten up your hand selection. Let these people pick on another off. A couple will go out quickly and a couple of others will have a big chip stack. Take advantage of aggression if you have a top hand, but otherwise stay out of the way.
If you sense that most of the players are playing cautiously, it’s a better idea to play with some aggression. The quicker you sense that you can steal blinds, the better it is for your chip stack. If most or all opponents seem willing to get out of the way and survive, use this to build up a large chip stack.
Whether you play tight or loose, be aggressive when you bet. Don’t simply call, because this makes you reactive. If you aren’t comfortable making a wager with the hand you hold, it’s usually best for you to fold. When you pump money into a marginal hand, you set yourself up for failure. Be bold and decisive once you get in the flop. Raise or get out of the way–don’t sit in the middle ground.
Once a few players lose, it’s common for gamblers to become more conservative. When 4, 5, or 6 players remain in a SnG tournament, they can see themselves finishing in the money. They tend to play more selective and go into survival mode. This is when targeted aggression helps you steal the pot and maintain your chip stack. The blinds get bigger at this stage, so you’ll need to steal blinds to maintain what you have.
This is especially true after the maniacs and aggressive players leave the field. Right after a couple of big all-ins, this is when players tend to become conservative. This is a perfect time to start stealing blinds, especially when you’re betting in position.
The closer you get to the bubble of making money on the game, the more aggressive you should become. This plays into your opponents’ natural tendencies and gives you a chance to build up your stack as you approach an endgame situation.
Every hand can be the most important hand of your tournament. Given the compact nature of sit & go tournaments, you could say that’s doubly so in this form of online poker. But each tournament has a few crucial points. One is the dividing time between “in the money” and busting out in 4th place, which is a waste of money and time. Other crucial phases are not as easily noticed.
One of the crux points of a turbo poker tournament is after a big kill-off. Imagine several of the aggressive players have a series of showdowns. Within a few hands, one or two go all-in and lose. These people are eliminated, while one of the aggressors has a massive chip stack now. In this situation, it’s natural for everyone at the table to take a deep breath.
The players who weren’t aggressive become more cautious, as they a big new stack of chips along with the consequences of showing too much aggression. The person with the big stack might bull ahead, now that they have their big stack. If they decide to consolidate or switch strategies for a bit, they might become less active for a few hands. In many cases, this is a point in the tournament where a lull ensues. This could be a good time to steal the blinds on a hand or two.
How you react should be determined by circumstances. If you have the big stack sitting behind you, it might not pay to bet into the pot. If you see the chip leader sit out of a hand and your turn comes, that might be a good time to push the others out of a pot or two.
Thus we come around full circle again to my original tip. Be adaptive to circumstances. Don’t have one rigid strategy. Shift gears when it appears you need to. Mixing things up helps throw your competition off and lets you use the reputation you’ve gained in the turbo event to good effect.