A Comedy of Errors
enough blinds to maintain a healthy stack while not taking too many risks with your own
chips. Some opponents will play too tight as the blinds increase – look out for them and
raise their blinds with lesser hands, be prepared to fold to re-raises though, when a tighty
raises it is time to quietly exit the hand and move on!
Everyone’s chips come from somewhere on a poker table. The average low level SNG
player will not take stack sizes into account when deciding their play. You should do this,
particularly when it comes to picking up blinds. Try to avoid the big stacks – it is cheap
for them to call – and the small stacks, who might just take King-high and make their
final stand. The people to steal from are the medium stacks at the table; they are
comfortable enough not to need to take risks without good hands and will give up their
blinds more easily.
You also need to note your position relative to the other stacks. If the big stack acts
directly after you then stealing from others at the table will be very difficult. In this case
you should consider reducing the blind steal attempts and instead re-stealing from one of
the medium stacks when you are in the blinds. This has to have a balance – if you re-raise
all in each time someone raises your blind you will be called fairly soon, if you never
defend your blind then it will be taken each round leaving you short-stacked. The
occasional re-steal will cure this problem, remember not to do this with hands that can be
easily dominated – Ace-rag should never be used for a re-steal and small pairs are
dangerous here (the hands that might call you are often overpairs or aces with decent
kickers – other hands are more likely to be folded). High suited connectors, mid-pairs
(99+) and AJ+ are all candidates here.
It has been calculated that up to 65% of a players profitability in SNGs comes from
Bubble play, more than any other part of the game you need to be aware of your
opponent’s errors and capitalize on them.
The first error that many players make is to misunderstand the true nature of the payout
structure… most SNGs pay 50% for 1st, 30% for 2nd and 20% for 3rd. So at the bubble it
makes sense to play for 1st right?? WRONG!!! Look at those numbers again; the jump
from 4th (0%) to 3rd (20%) is exactly the same size as the jump from 2nd to 1st!!! This
actually makes a huge difference to the optimum strategy – forget playing for 1st and start
to think of the bubble as the place to maximize your equity in the prize pool, to do this
you need to cash first and then think about going for the 1st place.
The section on ICM (The independent chip model) will look into maximizing your equity
in the prize pool in more detail and will also show exactly why you must fold many
hands at the bubble even when you are fairly sure you are ahead of your opponents range.
ICM will add $$$ to your bankroll, but first lets understand some common errors and
how to exploit them!!