Bankrolls and Buy-ins
We discussed bankrolling in our Sit and Go basics articles, if you missed it, you should check it out, there’s some really good information in there about starting a bankroll. If that’s not enough for you, there’s some free money hidden within the article as well.
Once you’ve established a sit n go poker bankroll however, it’s important that you keep building upon it, growing it, nurturing it, and never risking to much of it at any one time.
So as a general rule of thumb, as we’ve mentioned here and there within the sit n go bankroll section, it’s a good idea never to risk more than 1/20th of your sit n go poker bankroll at any given time. If you have a $30 bankroll for instance (and for simplicity), you’re going to be sticking to $1 buy in tournaments. These small buy in sit n go’s will each cost you between $1.10 and $1.15 and give you the flexibility to bust out of 20 of them in a row without cashing before literally busting out of the game.
If you think that’s a possibility, playing 20 straight games without winning any money then keep reading, there’s some simple strategy below to help keep you from doing just that. In fact, the goal is to cash in every game that you play, or at the very least, 2 out of 3.
Sit n Go Strategy for the Early Stages of the Game
There’s a little bit of wiggle room during the early stages of a Sit n Go poker game. If you’re someone that likes to see flops with small hands such as queen/jack suited, this is where you’ll do that so long as the pots are staying pretty small, and you’re in late position, meaning you either have the dealer button, or are perhaps one of the two players that act in front of the dealer button.
Outside of those two positions, you really want to stick to a tight hand selection. The key here isn’t to play super aggressively, in fact, we’re looking for two things, opportunities to pick up chips, and opportunities to lay down hands.
A folded hand is not a hand that can bust you out, it’s just that simple. If play starts getting out of control, and players start over-betting the pot, and reraising into each other, shoving chips around the table, sit back and watch. Enjoy the show. Don’t be the guy that tries to catch the big bluffer in a bluff. Just observe, and let the players take each other out of the game.
Let’s assume though that the game hasn’t gone crazy, and that there’s not a clear table bully to beware of. IF that remains true then it’s fine to try to stay even by snagging a couple of pots every hand, it’s fine to raise your big hands. Don’t go all in if you can avoid it at any time when there are still cards left to be dealt and you do not have the absolute nuts. If you flop a boat, then by all means get your chips in the middle however you can. But for the most part, if an opponent this early in the game wants the pot more than you do, let him take it, we’ll take care of him later.
Once the blinds have gone by you a few times, you should notice other players start to tighten up. This is the ideal time to take a shot or tow at building up your stack if the opportunity should arise. If you have been doing well in the tournament thus far, then you should feel comfortable with doing this. You’ll start playing those middle pairs or even the two face cards combo’s that aren’t paired.
This is also where you being observant during the first portion of the sit n go is going to pay off. You have been paying attention to the other players, so you know who to steer clear of on a reraise, who does a lot of bluffing, and how the other players act/bet when they do and don’t have hands. Whatever knowledge you’ve been able to glean thus far will help get away with a few things here.
If you don’t feel comfortable making moves here, and the blinds aren’t eating you alive, then you’re fine to just glide through the tournament. In all honesty, a 180 person sit n go at PokerStars can be won by playing no more than 4 very strong very aggressive hands.
SNG Play Just Before the Money Bubble Bursts
Generally at this point in the game, players go dead. You can pick up some serious coinage here. Do not under any circumstances risk your tournament life here (not even with aces in the whole). But keep in mind, no one else wants to kiss the felt here either, so, have some fun, do a little raising, a little reraising. Be wary however of shortstacks that are looking to make moves, and big stacks that just don’t care, and likely earned their chips through their idiotic play in the first place.
If you feel more comfortable just relaxing and waiting out the money bubble, as long as you’re not at risk of blinding out, that’s fine as well.
Anytime you have less than 10 big blinds in your hand you are at risk of busting out. When you’re in this position, you pick hands, and you shove your stack into the middle. The general hope is that you’ll pick up some small pots and not have to actually live through an all in moment. However, if you do have to put your tournament life on the line, think of it this way, you already had a lock on last place, and this is your chance to grind your way back up to first.
Playing the Last 2 Players in a Sit and Go
Once you’ve made the money, you’re safe. As long as you make the money at least 2 out of every three tournaments you play, you’re building a bankroll. We shoot for every single time, but incase we fail, you need to be cashing in at least 2 out of every 3 Sit n Go’s if you’re attempting to build a sustainable bankroll to play poker with.
Now it’s time to loosen up some. There’s only one exception to this way of thinking. If one of the other two players goes maniac, and the third player seems as though he’s going to take the bait, we always let the other players bust each other out when we have the chance.
If no one’s playing the maniac, then you really do want to try to control the table, or at least control every hand you’re in. Poker is an aggressive action game, it’s actions that win games. Calling is a passive action. No one ever folder their mediocre hand because someone else called their bet.
You need to be raising here, reraising, shoving your chips around like they are the weapon that they are. Don’t get me wrong here, you don’t ever want to find yourself calling an all in bet for any significant amount of chips with garbage, but if your opponent raises 3x the blind, and you can easily make it 7x with a continuation on the flop without bankrupting yourself, then by all means give it a shot.