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Making the Money Tips Part II

4. Pre-flop calling is a weak play in the middle rounds and beyond. Related to the above point, you don’t want to be doing a lot of pre-flop calling with large blind levels. Even worse would be limping pre-flop out of position as you’ll be faced with a difficult decision if someone raises in later position: make a poor call and be out of position on the flop or fold and lose a valuable big blind. Exceptions to this strategy would be when you’re trapping opponents with a big hand. Your goal here would be to limp from early or middle position, get raised, and then come back over the top for a reraise.

5. If you have a lot of chips you don’t need to become the table bully. I see a lot of chip leaders make an early exit from Sit and Gos by taking on the role of table bully. Unlike multi-table tournaments where a chip leader might have 3 or 4 times as many chips as anyone else at the table, it is very rare to develop a very large chip lead in single-table tournaments because of the lack of players filling empty seats. Even if you make an early double-up you’ll only be at about 3,000-4,000 chips at this level. Trying to dominate your opponents with frequent raises will tip them off to play patiently and reraise you when they have a premium hand. Folding to enough reraises will put you back down to the middle of the pack.

On the other extreme, it isn’t uncommon to see players who double up early sit out entirely until more players get knocked out! This is also extremely poor strategy and shows a true lack of confidence if your own abilities. As the chip leader, I don’t recommend playing a lot of big pots unless you truly have a monster hand. Try to slowly accumulate chips with blind steals and small raises. This should both increase your intimidating table image and set you up as the favorite when play becomes shorthanded.

6. Watch for players that you can steal blinds from. Perhaps one of the most essential skills to have in Sit and Gos is knowing how and when to steal the blinds. After all, if you can steal the blinds just once per round you would always stay afloat in the tournament. It also helps you stay patient by allowing you to have fodder to pay the blinds while you wait for a powerful hand. To steal the blinds you should be the first one into pot making a standard 3 or 4x raise. This should also only be tried from about position 6 or later or as the small blind as there will be fewer players behind you that may have a good enough hand to play back. Of course, you should target tighter players who haven’t been defending their blinds and avoid aggressive players and maniacs in the blinds.

What I’ve tried to outline with the above tips is a smart-aggressive approach to the middle rounds of Sit and Gos. You should make an effort to raise more often preflop, make continuation bets on the flop, steal the blinds more often, and not be concerned with running the table as the chip leader. Ideally, you will be able to play “small ball”, win several pots uncontested, and build your chip stack as a few more players get eliminated. The middle rounds are a time of chip management: you cannot wait indefinitely to get involved but at the same time you aren’t under huge pressure to gamble.

One final point: any time you only have 5 or 6 big blinds left you should look for any above-average hand and stick everything in. Any pocket pair, Ace, or two face cards would qualify for this. If you wait longer, there is a much greater chance that your bet will be called in multiple places, which of course decreases your expected win rate. Your goal with such a short stack is to either pick up the blinds uncontested or isolate to a heads-up situation where you still may have an advantage.

Making the Money Tips

In the first part of this tutorial, I covered Sit and Go strategy during the early rounds of play when the blinds are still low and you have plenty of chips left.

Essentially, I recommend a very conservative strategy during the first 3 rounds while taking a few cheap flops with “double-up” hands.

Unfortunately, your strategy must change as the blinds increase both to take advantage of your opponents’ weaknesses and to combat getting blinded out of the tournament.

In this two articles, I will discuss Sit and Go strategy for the middle rounds – the period between the start of 50/100 blinds and until 3 players are left battling for the money. The following tips, barring excessive bad beats, should allow you to navigate through the middle rounds while still giving yourself a shot at winning once play gets to 3-handed.

1. Don’t make major adjustments to your strategy. A common mistake that I see from Sit and Go beginners is panicking when the blinds reach the 50/100 level. Your strategy shouldn’t change too much simply because the cost of doing business has increased. If you began with 1,500 or 2,000 chips and have managed to stay about even, you still have 15-20 big blinds left. In Dan Harrington’s language, your “n” is still at 10-13 because you can pay to see that many more rounds of blinds without playing a hand. While you don’t want to let your stack get down to 3 or 4 n’s, that’s still a lot of poker left to be played! If your natural Sit and Go strategy is a patient one, don’t let the blinds take you off of your game.

2. At the same time, make the conscious effort to become more aggressive. When the blinds increase the table naturally becomes tighter overall with more players fearful of risking too many chips on marginal hands. This is the time that you want to become more aggressive. When you’re the first to open the pot, consider a raise to 3-4x the big blind. Making larger raises at this stage without a specific play in mind isn’t wise as you don’t need to risk an excessive amount of chips to make the same statement. If you don’t feel that your hand is strong enough to raise with then consider why you’re playing the hand at all. Trying to see cheap flops with mediocre hands at this point will be a slow leak of your valuable chips. Avoid weak Aces, baby pocket pairs, and trap hands like Q-J and K-10. In the middle rounds of a Sit and Go you want to be taking advantage of your opponents tight play, seizing control pre-flop with your strong hands, and steal the blinds around once per round or two when in position. If you aren’t accomplishing any of those goals you should probably just stay out of the hand entirely.

3. Follow up your pre-flop raises with betting on the flop, even if you didn’t connect. Also known as a “continuation bet”, a common play is to bet anywhere between Ѕ of the pot to the size of the pot following your pre-flop raise. This is done regardless of if you improve or not on the flop. I also only recommend this against 1 or 2 opponents if you haven’t improved. With more opponents it’s highly unlikely that none of them improved their hand enough to stay with you. The continuation bet is a great play for Sit and Gos and works especially well on tighter sites. Although this play makes you susceptible to check-raises when you’re in position, it will induce your opponent to fold far more often. It is very difficult for good players to bet into or reraise the pre-flop raiser without a very strong hand. Because you raised pre-flop you’re expected to have big face cards or a big pocket pair. Your opponents know that sometimes you’ll have hit the flop and other times you won’t have. The difficult part for other players is trying to decide when you haven’t hit if you’re always betting into them.