Part 3: High Blind Strategy
The Fundamental theorem of Sit N go High-Blind Play: Never allow yourself to get blinded out.
If you have a stack between 3 to 5 BB and you let the blinds hit you rather than make a move earlier, then you have broken the cardinal rule and allowed yourself to be blinded out. The underlying principle behind this concept is that the minimum stack you must have a reasonable chance to steal the blinds with a fight is 3BB. Even this is a low number, since the big blind must pay 2BB to match your raise wit ha pot of 4.5BB.
Your opponent(s) will be getting better than 2:1 odds and with any two cards (ATC).
"But every time Iget short-stacked, it seems every hand I'm dealt is either trash or I have someone else raising before me. What am I supposed to do, just push with nothing?" Yes
You should push with nothing rather than get blinded out
Let us assume that anyone with a hand in the top fifth starting hands will call your steal-raise of 3 to 5BB. Then if you were to blindly push two cards dealt you, you would win 36% of those times you were called. A random hand will win more often than once in three, on average, against a legitimate hand.Those are about the same odds as completing an open-ended straight draw or flush draw after the flop.
The reason that two random cards win so often over much better hands is that high cards significantly outnumber pairs. Therefore the common worst-case scenario is pushing with two low cards and getting called by two high cards. But even in that case, the high cards are only about a 2:1 favorite. The cases where you are facing an overpair are roughly offset by those times in the dark push is with a hand that is a favorite or only a slight underdog.
How not to get blinded out
With a stack of around 3 to 5BB, the best strategy to avoid getting blinded out is to pick a player who will be the big blind within 3 or so hands before the big blinds hits you and then push in the dark on him iof no favorable situation arises earlier. You want this opponent to be as tight a caller as possible and have a short to moderate stack.
High Blind Re-Steals
Your hand: You (3,800) have KTo in the small blind. The button is a loose player who has been routinely min-raising during high-blind play. The big blind has 4,200, UTG is short-stacked and the tight-passive cut-off
is the chip leader with 6,000.
Action to you: All fold to the button (5,100) who min-raise
Question: Do you fold, call, or raise?
Answer: Reraise all-in. Your raise will be to 4,100 around 3.5 times the button's bet, which puts a lot of pressure on him. If he calls and loses, he will go from major contendor to being on the verge of elimination with under 2BB. In addition, you have a decent hand, particularly for short-handed high-blind play. The button's raise is almost certainly steal rather than value --- he is a loose player raising his standard amount with position.
If you get a fold, you will win 2,100, over 50% of your stack. With 5900, you will be about tied with the passive (weak) chip leader and in solid position to aggress mercilessly near the bubble and place yourself in position to place first. And should the button call, while this is certainly not what you want, you may still win a huge pot with your two high cards putting you solidly in the lead.
Many players willrecognize the benefits of such aggressive play, yet still hesitate, not wanting to take such a big risk with a decent-sized stack before the money. But it is precisely this instinct that makes such a place correct since many of your opponents will want to avoid a certain gamble with their big stacks at all costs.
You can't play frightened poker, particularly late in a tournament. Remember, when you play a cautious game during the early stages, you maximize your chances of making it late into the tournament. But the cost is generally a smaller stack than your loose opponents late in the tournament. You must not coast along and get blinded out before the money or in the third place. You want to make an aggressive stand to accumulate chips when your fellow opponents are tightening up their calls near the money, thereby maximizing your chances of winning the tournament. After all, one first is much better than two-thirds. You win 25% more and forfeit one less rake and time investment.
When someone goes all in and you have 2:1 odds then you should call with ATC (any two cards).
If you are getting 2:1 on a pre-flop all-in call, and your call closes the action, calling is nearly always correct.
This is and situation which means that you need both here to call in most cases (very few times can you call if it doesn't close the action).
So, when getting better than 2:1 on a preflop headsup allin call, calling is higher +EV than folding.
This does not mean you should always call in such a situation. If , for instance, you are getting 11:5 pot odds with 2 low offsuit low cards, a call and loss will cripple you, the you might consider folding.
So, basically, if you are getting 2:1 pot odds or better but you probably have a worse hand, and a call and a loss would cripple you, then its fine to fold.
Also, another thing, in a STT, its fine to get down to 3bb. SNGS are about surviving, not getting chips so you need to call tight and shove looser (depending on the opponents). So, if someone UTG shoves, and you have a crappy hand with 3bb or 4bb or 5bb, then its correct to fold. (look this up in sngwiz quiz mode).
1. You do not want to be the one calling an all-in on the bubble unless you have a significant edge, or you are shorter-stacked relative to the blinds with a strong hand and must make a move to avoid getting blinded out.
2. If you push all-in on the bubble, you are offering your opponent a vastly inferior wager than had you made this same push during non-bubble play and so he is correct to fold many hands he would normally fold with. While few of your opponents will go so far as to discard QQ pre-flop, even a loose and ignornant player strongly wants to finish in the money and so will tighten up his calling requirements considerably when you push on him. Even if your stack is only enough to damage, yet not eliminate an opponent, he will still frequently tighten significantly.
When other players will call with comparatively few hands, so should you aggress with a wider array of hands.
Most players are strongly averse to gambling for all their chips when any other player getting eliminated places them automatically in the money
This means that very often your bubble raise will win the blinds uncontested.
The Stop n Go
Suppose you have a solid hand and are facing a pot-committing raise. You have decided to play the hand but there is no chance a pre-flop reraise will get your opponent to fold. Then you should consider a "stop n go". Call the pre-flop raise, and then bet the remainder of your chips at the flop regardless of what comes. This play works best if you are first to act post-flop since your opponent's inability to bet prior to your all-in gives you added fold equity --- chips won due to the possiblity of your opponent foldings.
Suppose there is a multi-way pot where at least one player is all-in. Each remaining player gains equity from any other player busting out. "Implicit collusion" refers to the still-active players having an unspoken agreement to check the hand down, thereby maximizing the odds that the all-in player(s) bust.
The rationale is that even if you bet/raise with the current best hand, you may knock out an opponent who would have improved to take down the pot over the all-in player's potentially decent holding. Then both active players (as well as everyone else at the table) lose the equity they would otherwise have gained through the third player's elimination.
Implicit collusion is often the correct path to take in such all-in situations but there are three noteworthy exceptions:
1. The pot is large and you have a hand that is very likely to be best now, but could easily be outdrawn. For instance, if the pot is half your stack and you have the top pair on a board of nine-five-deuce, you cannot give a free card to your still-active opponent(s).
2. There is a significant sidepot between you and the other active player(s) and you think a bet is likely to take down the sidepot. For instance, suppose the cutoff raises 2BB, the button calls for his remaining 0.5BB and you and the small blind as well. Then the main pot is 2BB, while the side pot is 6BB. If you think a bet will knock out the other active players, go ahead and attack.
3. You have the nuts or close to it and are betting the value
Exploiting Pre-Flop Passivity as the Big Blind
Suppose you are the big blind and all fold to the small blind, who limps. If you have yet to raise a hand he has limped, you should take his passive play literally. He most likely does not have a hand and you are not being trapped. This is because he has no reason to assume you will raise. If the blinds are significant, one of you has 10 BB or less, you should consider pushing any two cards.
Calling all ins and profitable passive plays.
Calling Short-stacked all-ins as the big blind.
If you are getting better than 2-to-1 on a pre-flop all-in call, and your call closes the action, calling is nearly always correct.
The basis of this observation is that the most common worst-case scenario when calling is facing two overcards, in which case you are a 2-to-1 underdog. Those occasions when your opponent has an overpair are roughly balanced by those situations when your oppoent is bluffing and you are only a slight underdog or small favorite. So when getting better than 2-to-1 on a pre-flop heads-up all-in call, calling is higher cEV ( chip equity value, a good bargin basically.) than folding. (same thing applies in MTTs)
This does not mean you should always call in such a situation. Don't do it when a call and a loss will cripple you. When getting 2-to-1, you need a reason not to call rather than a reason to call.
When you should not attack high-blind passivity
We have made it a theme that you should relentlessly attack high-blind pre-flop passivity namely by making big steal raises against loose-passive high-blind limpers or min-raisers when the combination of the blinds and the bet(s) are significant relative to your stack.... and you have at least a decent hand. But this principle can break down when your passive opponent meets two-criteria:
1. He is a very loose caller
2. He has a much larger stack than yours
This type of hper-loose big-stacked opponent is liable to call just for the sake of calling when your stack is comparatively small. He is found most often in lower-stakes sit n go's and you should only go up against him for value since he folds so rarely. If you believe you are up against such an opponent and his stack is much larger than yours, you may be better off waiting for a better opportunity unless your hand is well above-average.
When the play gets down to 3-handed many players are so happy to be in the money that they reason as follows "I have already made a profit in this tournament, so now is basically a freeroll. If I place any better, great. If I bust out here, hey --- at least I'm still ahead"
You must resist this reasoning at all costs. You are playing for long term profit, not just to finish int the money in one particular tournament. Remember, you win considerably more with one first than 2/3rds.
Your best approach now is standard high-blind aggression. Blind-steal and re-steal often, throwing in the occassional call from the small blind when the blinds are lower or the big blind has been passive.
You should always play aggressively but your specific strategy will depend on your opponent. If he is passive, you want to call more often on the button, folding to most raises (which indicate genuine strength). If you miss the flop completely, min-bet often, particularly against tight-passive players who will often fold. Check/folding is usually the best line against calling stations when you miss.
If you hit any piece of the flop against your passive opponent, bet for value relentlessly. Furthermore, never leave the hand (where you have hit the flop) unless you are both non-pot committed and have strong indication that you are beaten, such as a re-raise when you have bottom pair.
Against an opponent who is pushing very often, you should call with any hand that is clearly above-average, such as k8s, 66, QJs, or A3.
General theory of heads-up play:
Always play aggressively but exploit any weaknesses you have found in your individual opponent.
Stack-Dependent Strategy on the Bubble
Your strategy when 4 or 5 handed should almost always be aggressive. Lets specify optimal strategies for players of different stack sizes. Suppose the blinds are 100-200.
Player A: 8,000
Player B: 3,500
Player C: 1,100
Player D: 400
What game plan should you choose as chip leader, average stack, short stack and minuscule stack?
Player A's Game Plan
If you are player A, you should be very aggressive. If you are the opener and D is not in the bb, then you raise 400-500 with any non-trash hand. Expect everyone to fold a significant majority of the time. If you are called by B, tend to make a continuation bet of 500 or so regardless of the flop. If he bets first or reraises your pre-flop or flop bets, it is very likely you are beaten unless you hold a premium hand since he will avoid taking a serious chance of elimination when he can coast into the money.
if you are called/reraised by C or D, then going to the showdown as an underdog is not so bad. You may win by outdrawing and if you lose, you are still a monster chip leader.
In summary, as bubble chip leader, Player A must accumulate even more chips. This is done through ruthless aggression as well as value calls when the short or minuscule stack pushes and you have a chip advantage.
(I skipped a bunch of stuff in this section, tired right now)
Player B's Game Plan
When it comes to attacking C and D or calling all-ins from these shorter-stacked players, your strategy should be comparable to A's. Even if you lose an all-in against C, you will still be second in chips with 2,400.
You can find yourself in a positive equity pre-flop gamble for all your chips against Player A if you only have Aces or kings. If Player A realizes this and/or is re-stealing liberally, then aggress on him with your better hands--- just be willing to leave the hand if he plays back and you do not have a monster hand.
in summary, Player B should play similarly to Player A when contending with Players C and D. He should avoid most pots against A and those he does play, he must either keep small or have an overwhelming edge.
Player C's Game Plan
Don't allow yourself to get blinded out
High Blind Player Summary
High-blind play is largely a game of chicken. The blinds are high and rising
and you often find yourself with unplayable cards or prior all-in raisers for many hands in a row. Yet it is here where the money is decided and it will tend to flow toward the most aggressive. Never get blinded out, even if that means you must push in hte dark against tight blinds.
While we did consider examples of passive positive equity plays, such as calling all-ins with weak hands when the pot is laying better than 2-to-1, profiting from SNGs is largely a function of your aggression as the blinds rise and the table shrinks. This is why we encountered situations where pushing any two cards is correct, such as when you will be blinded out the subsequent orbit or you have the opportunity to open-push on the bubble as the chip leader and effective stacks of 10bb or fewer.
Remember, all but the most reckless players want desperately to survive. So force them to react to your analytical yet highly aggressive and the results will speak for themselves.
Last edited by Ares456
on Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.