Sit & Go Strategy: Changing Gears – Be the Bully

January 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Angus Dunnington, News, Poker School

While even one-table Sit & Go tournaments have a multi-table flavour, a key difference is that we’re effectively being fast-forwarded straight into final table mode as soon as we sit down. Thanks to the more rapidly increasing blind levels than we experience during the much, much longer course of a MTT, much of the strategy specific to S&G poker is related to both the blinds and the limited number of prizes.

Most players are aware of the standard, sensible tight approach during the earlier stages, but it can be difficult to know when this style is no longer practical, and when we need to step up a gear or three to be more aggressive.

With this in mind, as the blinds increase to a level at which they’re beginning to eat into our stack, and a couple of players have already been eliminated, we simply have to play dirty and bully the opposition. This can be easier than we might expect, as some players will be way too passive and particularly susceptible to steals and aggression, while others will be better acquainted with the theoretical recommendations yet unable to put what they know into practice.

This is a psychological aspect of the game that will forever be a fascinating side to poker – we know exactly what we should be doing but lack the clear-thinking logic and objectivity to actually commit ourselves to its execution. Such a difficulty with taking the bull by its proverbial horns manifests itself in every form of poker, from appropriate aggression in No Limit cash games to bluffing big or pushing all-in when so short-stacked it’s our only option, and so on.

In this context the key is to be proactive as soon as opportunities present themselves and, typically, acknowledging that we might well need to engineer the right scenarios ourselves – it’s imperative to remember that those valuable chips won’t be dancing their merry way to our stack without us making an effort to collect them!

We should have already identified which players are the most ripe for bullying, and be ready to strike early, picking up blinds and seeing our stack increase as others’ dwindle with each successive round of hands. The advantage of assuming the role of aggressor is that, from the middle phase (and subsequently) of a Sit & Go, opponents tend to almost willingly accept whatever new table dynamic is put before them as long as they’re happy with their current position. Even those with big stacks will acquiesce to someone else’s period of aggression because they don’t want to risk their (good) chances of making the money. Those nurturing average stacks are conscious of being ‘safe’ and in with a chance and, ironically, players with short stacks procrastinate and are experts in finding reasons why ‘this hand isn’t good enough’ to push, hoping while they wait for the elusive big pair that someone else will be eliminated (a futile, ultimately losing strategy).

A key Sit & Go tactic: Bullying.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington
32Red Poker Ambassador

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