published over 4 years ago
You might have read a book on SNGs, like Collin Moshman's Sit 'n' Go Strategy, or watched SNG training videos at a site like DeucesCracked or others (all great investments, by the way). They all universally advocate a conservative strategy for the early rounds, and an increasingly aggressive blind-stealing strategy toward the end. In general, this strategy is sound for all buyin levels from $1 to $1000. However, many microstakes (below $5) players get frustrated that their late stage shoves get called really lightly ("How did that guy make that call?!"), or that they end up folding a hand like AKo to a strong re-shove early only to watch the raiser double up with a crappy hand all-in preflop on a subsequent hand ("He went all in with THAT?! And the other guy called with even worse?!").
So are there some adjustments you can make to the winning basic strategy of "fold early, push late" so that can you get an even bigger edge on your microstakes opponents? You bet.
The main adjustments you will have to make to play micro-SNGs:
1. In the early levels, pot control goes out the window. You are starting with premium hands preflop and are only 50-75BB deep. If you hit your hand, even if it's only a one pair hand (overpair or top-pair-good-kicker), don't slow down! You will often get three streets of value with pot-sized bets the whole way. Don't get scared that three streets of action means your top-pair hand is in jeopardy: it isn't. Bet and keep on betting until you run out of chips.
2. Be willing to get it all in early with AK. In a higher-stakes SNG, if someone challenges me to get my full stack in the middle preflop in the early stages, I'm often going to concede the pot with AK, JJ and similar strength hands (depending on the action). Don't do this in a micro-SNG! You will be shocked how often you will be up against hands like 77 or AT. So, if you get in a spot where you are unsure if you should get it all in, err on the side of getting it all in.
3. In the early levels, don't bother stabbing at small pots if you miss. These players just aren't going to fold often enough, the immediate reward is too small for what you are risking, and you want to save enough chips for the massive future edges your opponents will offer. So if you raise preflop with AK and miss, just try to get to a cheap showdown and check-fold if you face a bet.
4. In the high-blind phase, respect the implosion factor. Micro-SNG players have a tendency to take really stupid risks for their entire stacks for no apparent reason. Maybe it's lack of knowledge, maybe it's boredom, maybe it's a generalized inability to sustain focus and make rational decisions after 50 or so hands. Whatever it is, it's real and a real factor in your decisions.
So how does it affect you practically speaking? Fold out the bottom (and sometimes middle too!) of your shoving and calling ranges. Survival tactics can often give you a bigger edge than pushing thin chip-accumulation edges. The more hands you get to play, the more time your natural skill advantage has time to express itself in dollar terms.
So hang around to play those extra hands. Try to maneuver yourself into the money. You can hang around for a suprisingly long time with a short stack, and by doing so, you have a substantial chance that one or more of your opponents will utterly and spectacularly implode. So if you've got a marginal push or call decision, tend to err toward folding.
Following guideline #4 might skew your finish distribution a bit more heavily toward 3rds than you might like, but if your bubble opponents will basically hand you 3rd place, I see no reason not to take it. You will often make enough extra 3rds to compensate for the 1sts you might have accumulated (but of course you'll turn some of those 3rds into 1sts too, right?).
5. Bankroll management is stupid. Ok not really. But... even though "proper bankroll management" (the 50-, 75-, 86-, 104-, or whatever. buyin "rule") might tell you that can't afford to play the PokerStars $3.40s with, say, only $100, you really can. The rake is so bad at the $1s (20-25%) and the play so bad at the $3.40s, that it's really a smart gamble. Assuming you have some modicum of skill, you should have a fairly large edge on your opponents, and you simply won't experience those large, long downsings nearly as often as winning players do at the mid- and high-stakes, for which most bankroll advice was formulated.
If you are just beginning, play those $1.20 or $1.25s just to get your bearings, but as soon as you know what you are doing, move the hell up.
I have no doubt that these adjustments will help you destroy micro-SNGs, if you aren't already, and more so if you already are.