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A Comedy of Errors

The Early Stages
Ok, so you have sat down in a $10+1 SNG at your regular poker site, the blinds are tiny
compared to the starting stacks and the usual collection of novice players have sat down
with you. What do you look out for? Here is a quick summary of the most common early
game errors… we will look at each one in more detail below and then look at the counter-
¾ Playing too many hands, especially out of position.
¾ Cold Calling Raises in Multi-way pots
¾ Post-Flop Play; Calling too much and Bluffing too much.
¾ Bet Size errors, Pot Control and Pot Odds.
o Playing too many hands, especially out of position…
In an average SNG your opponents will be playing a lot of hands, some as many as 40%
of all hands dealt. This means that the flop will be seen by anywhere between 3 and 5
players on average. Their logic is that it is cheap to see the flop and potentially hit a
monster. While this can happen the risks taken do not equal the chips gained! Let us look
at a couple of examples.
Example 1; You are first to act on the very first hand of a SNG, you are dealt two black
10’s – not a bad starting hand but not a great one. You decide to raise 3 times the big
blind to 60, everyone has 1500 chips to start…here is what happens.
- 3rd to act is Clive the Calling Station, he has KJ of hearts and calls because they are
- Fred the Fish in 5th Position has 44 and calls, the first 2 might be bluffing!
- Aggressive Andy is 6th and calls with 78 suited; he read in a book that suited
connectors are good hands…
- The button has A6 off-suit but is getting 4/1 on his call and has position so calls too.
- The Big Blind has the mediocre Q9 off-suit, however he only has to put in 40 chips
into a pot of 250 so makes the call.
The question is - what flop do you want to see here? Any over-cards, connected cards
(especially high ones) and suited cards have to be a worry. Of course 1 time in 7.5 you
will flop a 3rd 10… but hang on, what if there is another high card or even 2, can you be
sure that someone did not flop a straight?
Example 2; Fred Fish has A7 of Hearts in middle position, there are 2 limps ahead and
he also limps as does the button, not the Big Blind raises to 60 (3* the Big Blind) and the
limpers ahead call, the pot odds (200 in the pot 40 to call = 5/1) are huge so Fred calls,
button calls behind. The flop is 4A6 with 3 different suits… it is checked to Fred. The
question is what to do?? Is his Ace good? Almost never!! But people play these Ace-Rag
hands again and again!!
There are circumstances where it makes sense to speculate early. First let us be clear
about why playing too many hands early will lose money long-term. Sure you will get the