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Poker Strategy – SNG Pointers

Poker Strategy – SNG Pointers

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SNGs are excellent bankroll builders. Testimony to their efficiency is the fact that most poker strategy experts recommend that you play SNGs when you’re trying to nurse a fledgling bankroll to life. There are high stakes poker pros out there who focus on SNG play, to the point that they don’t even play anything else. There’s money in them there SNGs, that much is certain. It’s also certain though that it takes skill to get your hands on that money.

Here’s a look at some of the SNG trouble spots that seem to defy common strategy and poker math.

Calling a short stack’s all-in is one such trouble spot. People know that under normal circumstances, aggression is king in SNGs (as it is in regular cash games and MTTs too). Aggression gives the aggressor two ways to win the pot instead of just one – that is the conventional wisdom. All that is turned upside down though when one finds himself faced with a short stack all-in. Aggression no longer makes any sense and neither do other logical conclusions one can usually rely on in such situations.

What should a player do then? If the cards that he holds are good, his decision is a simple one: make the call. One is seldom lucky enough to have a short stack shove all-in against him when sitting on a monster though. Most of the time, you’ll have something like 10,8o and that’s when things take a turn for the intricate. Most players will say: I’m dealing with an all-in, so he must have a hand…nah, my 10,8o is no good then. This is a mistake though. Remember that you’re dealing with a short-stack, who may be more than willing to get his last chips into the middle on hands he would not normally commit on. Therefore, the way to tackle the situation is to try to assess the odds, and if the odds are right, then a call is in order. How do you know whether the odds are right or not? Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet in this respect: there’s no way to tell exactly what your opponent is holding, therefore you’ll never be able to get the exact odds either. As a general guideline however: if you’re getting 2-1 on your money, you should probably call. As said above, in a SNG – especially towards its later stages – there are all kinds of pressures on players, which will force them to make all-in moves on less than ideal holdings. Your opponent may stake his tournament life on hands as lowly as a 5,3o, in which case a call is more than warranted. No two unpaired cards are particularly big favorites over two other unpaired cards, therefore if the pot odds are right, the call needs to be made.

Generally speaking, the odds that you’ll get on your hand in this situation are somewhere around the 35-40% mark. With pot odds as good as 2-1, that makes it obvious why you need to make the move. Refusing to take up the proposition is a little bit like refusing to get rakeback or wanting out of a good poker prop deal for no reason.

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