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Sit and Go SNG Strategy – Early and Middle Phase



Playing a very tight game is the right strategy in the early phase of an SNG. There is always that guy who will get all-in after three or four hands, and some of the players will be eliminated rather early. Sometimes the table will be so loose and aggressive that even without playing much you will end up in the money. During the first three blind levels, focus on simply surviving. By the time the competition is down to a few players, you can always start outplaying them.

Since the game tends to be rather loose – especially in the beginning – you will need to play your strong starting hands more aggressively. That means to raise 4-6 times the blinds in order to narrow down the competition, especially with hands that do not like to play multiple opponents. Given the looseness of the game, even after a big raise with a big pair you will get a caller most of the time, and the chances of your big pair getting beaten are much smaller when playing against a single opponent.
You should not call all-in raises early except when you hold AA or KK. Most of the time, calling an early all-in raise is an unnecessary gamble. Let’s assume you hold AKs and someone raises you all-in. Chances are the other guy holds a pocket pair, so it is a coinflip. Do not risk most of your stack in situations like this.
Be careful with continuation bets when the flop has missed your hand. Bad players are perfectly able to call your continuation bet with any hand, and you loose even more chips trying to bluff and buy the pot.
Do not worry when you see that everyone around you is increasing their chip stack, while yours stays the same. You will still have enough chips to start building up later, and you can still win the tournament even if after 50 hands your chipstack is still the same you started with.

SNG Middle Phase

This is approximately the phase between the 4th and 6th blind level. 3 or four players should have been eliminated by now.
The blinds have become bigger now, and there is more pressure now because a) you need to defend your blinds and b) you want to start building up a stack now.
In order to build up your stack, the observations made in the early stages will help you. Weak players can be bluffed out of hands when you have a good read on their holdings, and you should now have a decent read on what the other guys actions mean. Other players have proven to be loose aggressive, and by playing you strong hands in a clever and deceptive way, you can bring all their chips in and stack them.
Continuation bets are now more successful, especially against weaker players. Pot-sized continuation bets in situations where you can assume that the flop hasn’t helped you and your opponent will win you the pot most of the time.
One thing you need to do now is watch out for the stack of the player you are playing against, because the big stacks ands the very small stacks are more likely to call your bets now. Trying to bluff a player out of a 2000 chips pot when he has only 300 chips left does not make any sense, because if he has even a mediocre draw, he wil have good pot odds to call. If you are able to build up your stack, you will be in great shape for the late stages.
Later (when there are only around 5 players left), when the blinds are much higher and especially the smaller stacks cannot afford to give up too many blinds, your strategy must be different. You need to play more aggressively now. Most of the remaining players with medium stacks will now focus on making it to the money, and will be adverse to risks. Of course, by doing so, they will finally loose their chips because of the blinds. Initiative is now of the essence. Raising first in gives you a good chance of not seeing any flop and win the blinds. Calling a raise means that you will see a flop – which is going to miss you most of the time, and then what?

So in order to call a raise, you need a stronger hand than what you would need to raise yourself (the Gap Concept). When you get a real big starting hand like KK or AA, think about how you can bring all the opponents chips in. If he raises, you can just flat call, because he is very likely to make another big bet after the flop, no matter what.Re-raising might actually scare him, and he will be reluctant to push all-in after the flop. You also must consider now that it is not only about winning chips now, but also about eliminating players. On the other hand, when you see a situation where there is a chance that a player might get eliminated without your participation, do not get involved unless you have a real good hand.

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