In this article, we'll examine some of the common leaks that even many profitable players have when playing sit and go tournaments. Sit and goes are not being played the same way they were 3 to 5 years ago. No longer can one sit, let the fish decimate each other and coast into the money. These tips will help you maximize your edge in today's games and bring the fight to your opponents.
Pre-flop raise sizing can be extremely important to your long term ROI and is one of the biggest mistakes SNG players make is raising too much. As bet sizing is extremely important to prolonging your tournament life. For instance, when the blinds are 10/20 many players default raise to 60 each and every time they open raise. When the blinds are 15/30 most players open raise to 90 without a second thought. While, in some cases this may be correct, such as, being in early position in a very loose game, in almost all situations it is too much. Open raising 3x or 3 times the big blind is spewy and is -EV in the long run. When the blinds are 15/30, a min raise to 60 or a raise to 75 accomplishes the same thing. Your villain is likely to make the same decision when facing a raise of 2.5x or 3x the big blind and you will save yourself some money when you get re-raised.
When you open raise to 90 early in an SNG, and face a re-raise, the raise you face is larger due to your opening raise. So, when you lose a pot you're simply losing more money than you should when you open raise 3x the big blind. This is especially important in the early stages of an SNG, even more so, if you play a slightly more aggressive early game style.
In the early stages of sngs, min-raising or raising 2.5x the big blind will give you the same result and save you chips when you are beaten or re-rasied.
With an increasing number of proficient players or "regulars" in SNGs today it is important to understand their tendencies and ways to exploit their style of play. Most regulars are extremely straight forward and play a very predictable ABC style of sit and goes. While this is certainly not wrong and likely still profitable, it gives a thinking player obvious ways to exploit their style of play.
For instance, regulars are extremely nitty or tight, especially in the early stages of the tournament. In most cases, a limp from early position is nearly always in the weaker range of starting hands such as a lower pocket pairs or weak high cards. Isolation raising from late position can realistically be done with any two cards against some regulars because they are simply set mining and are fit or fold on the flop. A just over 2x re-raise and a half pot continuation bet on most flops can take down the pot a lot of the time. Remember, your opponent will miss the flop 70% of the time.
Even if your villain makes a call on the flop, it may be worth barreling the turn and river. So many players never even attempt to bluff in SNGs and they are missing out on a lot of +EV.
Regulars play a very rigid straight forward style of play, rarely do they check, call, check call, check, call to the river. They almost never check raise the river and will usually let you know if they have a hand by betting out or check raising. There is not much deception in their game and it is easy to tell if you are behind. So, it is worth looking for spots to double and triple barrel them. They hate going to the river with a marginal or even medium value hand and want the nuts before they consider putting their chips in the pot.
It would seem weird to advocate playing against regulars early on in SNGs but they are very predictable and it is very easy to tell where you stand in a hand. This goes against the game selection/get into pots with poor players line of thinking but it is worth considering. The predictability of some regulars, especially, when you have position on them makes for a good time to try and pick up some pots. Many times they are playing so many tables that they aren't even paying attention to each game. So, just because you raised a villain's limp the past 3 times he's been in the pot, don't assume he was paying attention. You can back off if he starts plays back but keep pushing your edge if you encounter no resistance.
Many players make the mistake of being too tight in the middle to later rounds of SNGs. Around the 50/100 and 100/200 blind range, you will usually have a few players eliminated. If you are treading water with 10 BB or less you must absolutely be pushing all in when you have position and a decent holding. As your stack grows smaller, your fold equity against the table continues to diminish, especially against the blinds.
Too many players wait around looking for premium hands hoping the other players will pick each other off. Even on the bubble, you need to keep up your aggression against the smallest stack at the table. Don't look at it as staying alive till someone else stacks off. When you get to a point where you have 3-4 BB and have not yet shoved, you're a severe underdog to stay alive. Start shoving in position much earlier and avoid this situation, sure you might run into some monsters occasionally but overall you will be cashing a lot more if you target your aggression appropriately.
SNG play has changed a lot over the years and the great players are starting to adapt. Analyze your game, your weaknesses, and give yourself a plan for each situation dependent on your stack size and that of your opponent's. Good luck at the tables!
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