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.