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Micro SNG strategy advice please!

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  1. #1

    Default Micro SNG strategy advice please!

    Hi, I have been playing poker online in the play chip games for over a year now and have dabbled with a $20 dollar deposit at some point which I managed to lose every cent of. I am now taking the game much more seriously and have deposited $60 with the intent of implementing some proper BRM and learning to play a watertight game. I have always played with the intent of playing a winning strategy and being a winning player, I am a Mathematician, I have read “The Mathematics of Poker” by Bill Chen as well as Colin Moshman’s “Sit ‘N Go Strategy” and have dipped in and out of Sklansky’s “The Theory of Poker”, so I would like to consider myself a thinking man and not a “Donk” or a “Fish” but that aside a winning player should have a positive ROI.

    My goal is to use my $60 deposit to learn to play the best poker that I can. Nine player NLHE SNGs are my favourite format so I have decided to play these exclusively for the time being. I am playing the $1.20 buy in games on Full Tilt, they are the lowest buy in and I started with 50 buy ins which is a fair number and should be enough to weather a downswing from what I have read. I aim to learn to “beat” these games and eventually move up the stakes as my BR allows. I have set a few rules for myself which are that I should only play games that I am bankrolled for (at least 50 buy ins) and that I have to have played at least 1000 games at each level before I can move up to the next ( this is to ensure that I have a statistically significant set of results in order to know whether or not I am a winning player at that level) and of course keeping in mind the usual rules that one should abide by such as not playing while on Tilt or playing to chase lost money etc...

    I have played 25 games (yes I know that this is a very small sample size) and finished 30% ITM 20% on the bubble and the rest between 5th and 7th. Of those that I have finished ITM I have had one 1st, four 2nd and two 3rd place finishes. So, my ROI is pretty bad sitting around -37%. Okay, yes this is a small sample size and I am indeed still learning but I have already lost 15% of my bankroll so I thought I would fire out a post with all this info as well as my general strategy to see if there are any big leaks in my game.

    I have found that the level of play at this buy in varies dramatically from game to game, you can never be sure whether three people will bust out on the first hand or whether the game will last over 150 hands before it gets 5 handed so some games are easier than others. From what I have read about micro stakes SNG strategy the essence of a winning game is to “play super tight until all of the ‘donks’ bust each other out and it is just a shove/fold game for first place”, this is what play money games are like but so far I have found few of the $1.20 games to be quite this easy. My strategy has been to play super tight in the early stages playing only QQ+ and AK then to loosen up slightly as I get an idea of how people are playing and then when I get to the point when I have less than 10BB start to play a shove/fold type game but I am beginning to wonder whether or not this is the best way to play.

    From looking through my hand histories and analysing my push fold game with SNG wiz I think that the two main things that I need to work on are being more aggressive when I have a good hand and am in position (so that people don't draw out on me as much) and to push more hands when folded to on the SB and button when I have a stack <10BB.

    I would love to hear any advice or tips that anyone has to offer.

    Thanks in advance,
    Fraser.
  2. #2
    You probably need to way overplay big hands at this level. Even at the $13.50 KOs I found was able to pump in bets of 200 - 300 chips at 10/20 and still get 1-3 callers! Through experimentation I found that people actually preferred calling larger bets as opposed to the smaller ones, presumably because a monster pot was brewing.

    Experiment with bet sizes and see what hands people will call with if you ramp up the betting. Tbh I still think you will still get callers when shove 1500 chips into the middle. Players at this level will seldom be able to fold AK, AQ or TT at this level, so you may as well take advantage of that.

    As for being super-tight, it's ok to lag it up and iso-raise if players can fold post-flop. You can also limp a few SC's and PPs and try make big hands to stack opponents.
  3. #3
    By how much are you suggesting I loosen up my play? I understand that iso-raising is correct if you have a hand worth playing but what if I miss the flop and get bet into? Do I just have to give up?

    Say I have AKo on the button early on with two limpers and I push out a 300 chip iso bet and the lag Big Blind calls and everyone folds, then I miss the flop, say 6h9hQs and the Big blind bets another 300 should I give up there and then because I missed the flop. That is what my intuition is telling me to do, he could be on AQ or even Q9, who knows, he's a very loose player...

    As far as limping goes I have read that that is a big big no no in micro stakes as everyone and their dog will jump into the pot as well... so I find it interesting that you suggest it with SCs and PPs, I haven't tried it at all yet, I mostly fold PPs below TT to any action atm. Also surely if you limp only with SCs and PPs, then people can put you on a hand pretty quick if you are otherwise are pretty tight? If you hit your set should you slowplay or just fire out some chips, or does this much matter at all? Maybe I am missing a bigger picture...

    I understand that just grinding out the games and getting valuable experience is probably one of the best ways to learn, saying that however there are many $1 SNG "grinders" out there who consistently throw their money away game after game, I suppose I am just eager to turn my ROI around and become a winning player as I would rather not lose another 10BIs from my BR. Also, I don't want to be one of those players who blames their losses on bad luck, I know variance is a factor but I am sure that if I had played better poker over the last 25 games then my ROI would be +ve.

    Thanks for the advice, it is great to get a different angle on things.
  4. #4
    Yeah, conventional wisdom says give up in these spots. Against a player who donk-leads every hand, it's probably ok to felt the hand since hands like AK are ahead of his donking range.

    Limping into pots isn't a great idea at higher stakes because better players can exploit you, but at the $1s no one is paying attention to your range ... no one. When you have low PPs and SCs you want lots of people in the pot because there is a decent chance someone will hit TP or two pair and want to stack off. I'd like to limp low PPs in my games, but I have to raise them to avoid being exploited.

    You can slow play sets on rainbow boards, but the best solution is just to jam, jam, jam! $1 players are looking only at their cards and not ranging you.

    I'm a winning player. If you look at my blog thread you will see that after 600 games this month I was running in the red, including times when I've dropped 50 BIs over 150 games or so. Variance is huge in SNGs. I personally reckon about 10K is about where things start to converge on your "true" ROI.

    Heck today I've dropped like 9 BIs and I reckon I have played quite well!

    Edit: Just to clarify, I will fold low PPs from early positions as it's usually pretty hard to get much value from them OOP.
    Last edited by Nakamura; 02-22-2011 at 06:31 PM.
  5. #5
    Hi, welcome to FTR!
    My strategy has been to play super tight in the early stages playing only QQ+ and AK [...] I mostly fold PPs below TT to any action
    1. Pay more attention to position.
    2. Pay more attention to implied odds
    What if I miss the flop and get bet into? Do I just have to give up?
    Often yes. It depends on a number of factors though. Post some hands.
    Say I have AKo on the button early on with two limpers and I push out a 300 chip iso bet and the lag Big Blind calls and everyone folds, then I miss the flop, say 6h9hQs and the Big blind bets another 300 should I give up there and then because I missed the flop.
    Sounds like a fold, yes, unless he's leading out extremely often. (You'll get much better responses, btw, if you post some specific hands.)
    As far as limping goes I have read that that is a big big no no in micro stakes as everyone and their dog will jump into the pot as well...
    You probably misunderstood it. In the $1.20s I'd limp with much more hands than at the $54s, for three reasons.

    1. It's safer, because people are more passive pre and won't raise me off my hand as often as they should.
    2. I'm getting very generous implied odds, because people are way too loose and will pay me off when I hit a big hand.
    3. I have less fold equity, so raising is a less attractive alternative.

    No 2 is the most important factor. Read up on implied odds if you're not sure what they are or how to estimate them.
    Surely if you limp only with SCs and PPs, then people can put you on a hand pretty quick if you are otherwise are pretty tight?
    Not at $1.20's, no.
    If you hit your set should you slowplay or just fire out some chips
    Depends. Post some hands.
    Does this much matter at all?
    Yes it does.
    Maybe I am missing a bigger picture...
    Don't worry, it'll come.
    I understand that just grinding out the games and getting valuable experience is probably one of the best ways to learn
    Yep.

    The other one is posting some hands.
    I would rather not lose another 10BIs from my BR.
    You will, sooner or later. The sooner you accept that 10BI (and 20BI, and 30BI) downswings are absolutely inevitable, the better. Saying things like 'I'd rather not' etc., doesn't help, it just *** up your psychology.
    I am sure that if I had played better poker over the last 25 games then my ROI would be +ve.
    Don't be so sure.
    Thanks for the advice, it is great to get a different angle on things.
    You're welcome.


    Now post some hands
  6. #6
    I am definitely paying more attention to position the more I play and I feel as though I am beginning to understand implied odds more. I have started limping PPs and SCs more since Nakamura suggested it, I don't really know why I wasn't doing that before as it is a pretty obvious thing to do if people will let you see the flop dirt cheap.

    Since joining FTR I think my poker has improved quite a bit, I have a bit more confidence now to push chips in when I think I have the best hand, I seem to be coming up to the bubble with a bigger stack now just from limping PPs and SCs and shovelling the chips in when I hit the flop with something big.

    Should I just post individual hands or can I post a few at a time? Also, should I just start a new thread in the SNG strategy section when I want to do this?

    Thanks again for your comments they have been very helpful, it is great to get a bit of perspective from people who know what they are talking about
  7. #7
    Hey Fraser, Welcome to FTR. You found the right place to continue learning this game. A bit 0 history before I give you advice. I am also a beginner to serious SnG's. I started in December, I got on a heater early and then started my sprial downward, doing everything in the book WRONG. I.e., played over my bankroll, no notes, didnt try to put other players on a range.....yada yada yada. I found this site, started learning. Jan was bad because I was confused and didnt understand a few things. But after 265 games in Feb, my roi is 23% at the 5.50s and I am having a blast.

    So here is advice from a beginners prospective.

    1) It wont take you long to figure out who's who at FTR. These guys are good. You wont have to read long and do a bit of math to figure out how good they really are. They are quite modest about it. Listen to and practice what they say. If you dont understand something hit em up with it again, they are always willing to help. (I havent figured out why they take the time to help us noobes but they do).

    2) Open the following web page: Low buyin SNG dos and don'ts - v1.0 - Poker Forums This article Low Buyin SNG do's and dont's was written by Taipan and Swiggidy. You will certainly meet Taipan if you post on this site. He is a great asset to people like me and you. Anyhow, This article just became your poker bible. Read it, understand it, and live by if for now. I promise you it works.

    3) As Nakamura and Fielmann both mentioned post hands you have trouble with. Also read the forum and get involved with other threads that you dont understand. Many times I didnt understand and these guys just keep comming back trying to provide me with an answer I can understand.

    4) Go to the Tilt forum. Make sure and read the first sticky posted by Gabe. After you have read that you will never have to go back to the Tilt Forum. (I hope FTR is not paying him). Badbeats are part of the deal, if you are the one giving to many of em there is a serious problem with your game.

    5) My own experience at the 5.50's is that patience makes me a bunch of money. I expect patience wont be worth as much down the road but at the lowest of buyins it seems patience is key.

    Finally, play play play. The only real experience is sitting at the table. Many things you hear and read wont make alot of sense until it happens at the table. I dont recall what post it is but I once read that if your at the bubble with a VERY LARGE stack it is sometimes wise to keep shorty in the game. Now that didnt make a damn bit of sense to me. Heck if I knock shorty out I get paid. However, you cant imagine how easy it is to take chips from the other two if shorty stays, making your life eaiser when there are only three of you.
  8. #8
    Also Fraser,

    Go read Nakamura's Blog: http://www.flopturnriver.com/pokerfo...cy-185485.html

    This will give you an idea of the ups and downs you are going to be facing.
  9. #9
    Hi and welcome to the forums, it's good to have you here.

    I don't think I can add any more to what the others have said (thanks for the props RiverMonster but there are plenty of better SNG players than me around!) other than to reiterate that posting hands and tourneys (and thinking about the replies you receive!) is the best way to improve your game. Feel free to start a new thread for each new hand, or if you want to post a few in one thread that's fine too.

    Oh, and one more thing - I wrote this post in the Beginners' Circle which may also be helpful since dealing with your own emotions in poker is critical - http://www.flopturnriver.com/pokerfo...97.html#576017
  10. #10
    I'm far away from the poker knowledge that some people here got but I have applied one thing at my low buyin SNG. I did play like you once and used that super tight and then push fold. But try plaaying super tight until the blinds reach 50/100 because thats when I loosen up and start stealing.
    I always try to steal and make sure I have about 15xBB , I dont know if thats a good strategy or not but it have helped me once I reach the bubble. That way I'm not in there with 5xBB and being called by everyone if I decide to push all in.
    Another thing that came to my mind is that changing your mentality (I'm just assuming stuff now) could work. I know from my own experience that I always aimed to reach the bubble instead of aiming at winning the whole tourney , I would get to the bubble but with such a small stack that I would be the next one to bust out. So aim high

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