Double or Nothing Strategy
Double or Nothing SNGs have become incresingly popular lately. To understand the strategy-mechanics of these games and why their draw on beginners seems so irresistible, one first needs to understands how they work.
Double or Nothing SNGs feature a traditional SNG format with a twist concerning the payout structure: half of the participants get paid equal amounts of money, while the other half leaves the table empty-handed. Indeed, what that means is that if one makes it past the money-bubble, he will have doubled up. Why exactly is this tournament format so popular? Obviously, the perception that the individual odds for players to win money is better, has a lot to do with it. At the end of the day though, what such tournamnets do in this respect is that they simply tame variance a little: over the long-run, profits generated through these events aren't any easier to obtain than through SNGs featuring a traditional payout structure.
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The bottom line is howver that these SNGs are appealing to rookies because they do not require one to be particulary aggressive and beginners do indeed tend to have a sort of aversion to aggression which limits what they can achieve at the table quite severely. Anyway, any strategy aimed at cracking the Double or Nothing nut has to start from the objective of the game, which is to better half the starting field, and from the fact that out of every 10 such Double or Nothing SNGs played, one has to win at least 6 to show a long-term profit.
It is probably obvious to everyone who's ever played such an SNG that there are two basic strategies most players employ in these games. One is about cranking up the aggression during the early stages, looking to take advantage of the tightness of the other players and amassing as many chips as possible. The problem with this approach is that one will usually encounter other players pursuing this same route, in which case, the strategy will devolve into a bit of a crapshoot.
The other approach is the more "traditional" approach of TAG poker: playing tightly but aggressively on good hands in the beginning and then gradully cranking up the aggression as the M values around the table degrade with the escalating blinds.
Another important aspect to the strategy concerning this game -type is the necessity not to grow too comfortable once one manages to rack up a seemingly winning stack. The bubble is obviously the most critical point of every Double or Nothing, even more so than in the case of regular SNGs/MTTs. The bubble can find one as the chip leader, as the short-stack or as the middle-of-the-pack guy. Regular tournament strategy applies in all these cases. Generally speaking, regular SNG strategy based on Dan Harrington's M value is a good fit for Double or Nothings, for as long as one doesn't lose sight of the fact that he's not trying to win the game in the traditional sense.