I had a PM which asked if I could explain this a little more. Specifically, the whole strategy seemed a little loose. Well, I guess it is a little, depending on how tight you are used to playing. But the thing is, its actually a whole bunch tighter than ICM based play. And I think that is why it works so well at low stakes. People call too wide for pure ICM (assuming normal calling ranges) based play. Since they are calling too wide, you would still profit from adjusting their calling ranges appropriately and playing ICM. But its kind of difficult for most beginners (and intermediates) to do that well. So the alternative, is to turn to Sklansky's theory of game dynamics where he says at a tight table you should play tight but slightly looser than average and at a loose table you should play loose, but slightly tighter than average.
The middle and end games of SNGs are characterised by pretty loose play (compared to cash games that Sklansky was writing about) and this is an obvious an expected result of high blinds and short handed dynamics.
So essentially, the above strategy is aimed at keeping you sufficiently loose not to get blinded out, but slightly tighter than the average bear so that when you do get it all in, you retain some positive showdown value.
OK, so that is kind of an introduction to the whys and wherefores. Now for just a bit more detail.
I want to cover the Sklansky ranges and ICM is just a bit more detail.
The Sklansky ranges are not the only hole card ranking system, but it is pretty well established and is inbuilt into TI, so its a good system to use for that reason alone.
So working through the Mzones we start with Yellow M. This is a typical mid game Mzone. I have looked at yellow M in considerable detail relative to Independent Chip Values (details in another lost thread). The conclusion was that stealing is important, but maintaining a workable stack for later is more important. Hence, we are stealing pretty light, but we will run away from a fight pretty quickly without a strong hand. Whether or not to Cbet is a difficult judement call and should be based on board texture, villains fold to Cbet stats and our own hand strength (we want to be Cbetting bluffs and strong hands mostly, and checking behind with marginal hands).
As you drop to Orange M you are usually down to 5 or 6 players. This requires loose play not to get blinded out, but you also have very few chips left for post flop manoeuvering. When you consider ICM chip value implications, you actually have even fewer chips to play poker with than you think (this is because ICM dictates that each chip in your current stack is worth more than the chips you hope to win and because you are usually close to the bubble at this point where bubble factors are higher and hence the value differential between existing chips versus chips to be won is greatest).
So, our bubble factor indicates that we really don't want to bust out before the bubble (promoting tight play) but this same pressure on our opponents, combined with high blinds, encourages loose stealing play. However the wider we steal, the worse our image becomes and the lighter we will get called. When this happens, our steal equity (or fold equity) decreases.
Accordingly, we have to strike a balance between capitalising on our steal opportunities, without damaging our image too much, but to also avoid playing so tight that we are not stealing enough and get blinded out. This is where our Sklansky ranges come in. By sticking to those ranges, you are letting the random distribution of the cards dictate how often you are stealing and by playing the prescribed ranges, you do ensure reasonable showdown value if called.
I mucked around with different ranges for ages (always using Sklansky groups though) and finally settled on these ranges based on trial and error mostly.
Once we get to Red M, we are shoving any group 6+ from any position. Yep, that's right, that means shoving this crap from UTG -----> 66, AT, 55,86s, KT, QT, 54s, K9s, J8s, 75s
So why so loose?
Basically 2 reasons. We can start with Harrington's Structured Hand Analysis (SHAL). In HOH V2, Harrington looks at a situation facing 4 players with a mix of tight and loose shove calling ranges. He then looks at how often all players will fold to a shove, and how a specific holding (T8o) will perform against their calling ranges. Based on the combination of fold equity and showdown equity (as crap as it is) Harrington mathematically proves that shoving T8o from Red M is positive EV.
Exactly the same principles apply from Red M in SNG where we are mostly relying on fold equity, but if called, our group 6+ range seeks to ensure we have some value for straights, flushes, live cards and not being dominated.
The second reason is ICM. And this makes for a good segway to get to that aforementioned ICM discussion
OK, so ICM stands for Independent Chip Model. It means that the value of each chip in a tournament (and most particularly a SNG) is non-linear. I am not going to explain it is full detail because I have done so at least 3 times previously so hopefully the archives can dredge up at least one of those posts. But essentially, it works by calculating tournament equity as an expression of stack size and then figuring out the percentage chance you will come in 1st, 2nd and 3rd and what the monetary value of each of those percentages is. Your total tournament equity is the sum of all money places times the likelihood you will finish in that place.
But understanding that chip values change is key to understanding loose shoving from red M. When your opponents are presented with a shove, they can elect to call or fold. Against thinking opponents, who understand ICM, they consciously realise that each chip they hope to win is worth less than the value of the chips they are putting at risk. This essentially effects their pot odds very significantly so that they are still forced into calling with a pretty snug range even if they know 100% for sure that you are pushing any two cards (ATC)
At the lower levels this doesn't work quite as well. The players at the low buy-ins frequently don't understand ICM. Rather, they get far enough along the logic trail to work out that you are pushing ATCs, but that makes them think they should call with hands like K7o because its better than a random hand. Essentially that just means that you have to tighten your shoving range - which is basically what a group 6+ range is. Its a TIGHT shoving range compared to what you would be shoving with using ICM versus good opponents.
So there you have it. I hope it helps and I have explained it well enough. Basically what I am trying to get across is, despite the concerns of my private messager, this strategy is actually a pretty tight strategy compared to what is needed at buyin's of $20 and above. Except once you get into those buy-ins and higher, alternative theories (such as block theory) can provide a counterbalance to ICM based play and people can still wind up calling you pretty light for pretty sophisticated reasons, as opposed to the $1 donks who often make the exact same calls for entirely the wrong reasons