STT SNG's: Is Tight Right?

    • gavinonymous
      gavinonymous
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.12.2008 Posts: 1,146
      On weekends (pokerstars) the player pool is a lot different than weekdays. Sunday's especially are a lot of different types of players, many of them playing for fun with no idea of ICM, and level zero thinkers (no point in trying to bluff etc..)

      Here's the situation, I'd like to know your thoughts on this at the micros..

      I'm playing very tight early on while the donks and fish knock each other out. This raises my $EV a good amount, and puts me in the top 6 almost every tourney. A good shot at the top three.

      By the time it gets to push or fold, I usually have only 1100-1300 chips, while there are 3 players with double stacks. I think this puts me at a disadvantage against the donks/fish who tend to call/push unpredictably. I'm left with my small edge with ICM and the results are mediocre and sometimes disastrous.

      ... so yesterday I'm explaining this to my poker illiterate gf (she's really cool like that) and she asks me why I play so cautiously when I am more skilled (clearly) than most of the pool at my limit. I explain why it's best to play tight early on, and she implores me to try playing looser - engage the bad players and not be such a pushover.

      I figured that by playing so tight, I was being crushed by luckboxes, bad calls, coolers, bad beats etc.. and I was frustrated that I couldn't beat such bad players, and didn't have the stack to withstand any beats.

      I also figured that I was completely predictable - like other regs. If I played a hand early on, I was polarized to only top hands, pp's etc.. If I raised and hit a flop I'd get raised off my cbet or floated etc... I was being crushed by both fish/donks AND regs.

      So I decided to humour my gf (this is usually +EV) and take her advice.

      I started playing more LAGgy at early stages and even more aggressive during push or fold than I had been. I noticed several differences immediately.

      I started doubling/tripling up early on in the tournament

      regs stopped stealing my blinds (I was much more active defending)

      people stopped trying to run me over at push/fold stage

      people folded more to my pushes

      my hand range was harder to guess pf.

      I was bluffed at a lot more postflop

      I won more chips in hands postflop

      I was flamed much much more

      By push or fold stage I usually had 2-3 stacks and could withstand a bad beat or cooler and still cash

      I could abuse the bubble much more often and effectively pushing ATC when you know your opponent can only call monsters is nice - when they get frustrated and call too loose they are making a mistake, and I can suck out.

      I went from my usual -5% to 5% ROI (100 games) to 40%!! ROI (100 games) on a sunday for the first time in recent memory. (actually turned a 200 game 20BI B.E/downswing into a vertical upswing!!) I know... small sample.

      my finish distribution changed a lot. playing tight it was a sloping line from first to 9th place.. mostly 1,2,3 place, way too many 4th places and very few 7,8,9th places. playing looser I now had some more 7-9th places, very few 4-6th places and mostly 1st and second places. This was VERY noticeable and a big difference.

      I think that by playing more LAGgy early on, you are setting yourself up better to WIN the SNG, and not merely survive to cash. I think this is especially important when ICM is giving you only a small edge vs. regs - while fish are abundant. Also consider how much more 1st place is worth than squeaking into the money as the shortstack and busting out 3rd...or not and being 4th so often due to some bigstack calling you off superlight when you have a must push situation.

      Taking advantage of the fish/donks early on also deprives your opponents from these chips and sets you up to dominate the endgame giving much more chance of 1st, less chance to bubble and overall much better results.

      I'm trying to play some hybrid style now - not too crazy early on, but loose enough to see the benefits. I'm interested in anyone else's experience with similar changes in style. There's a fine line between LAG and donk, but I think for the micros this might be a better strategy (with good postflop skills)

      What do you think? I really noticed a big difference. Does anyone else here play this style? Please share your thoughts/advice.

      Many thanks,
      Good fortune at the tables.
  • 5 replies
    • bradomurder
      bradomurder
      Bronze
      Joined: 17.10.2008 Posts: 1,329
      Originally posted by gavinonymous

      I could abuse the bubble much more often and effectively pushing ATC when you know your opponent can only call monsters is nice - when they get frustrated and call too loose they are making a mistake, and I can suck out.
      Be careful here, if they call too loose it makes your shove -EV, AND their call -EV, the EV goes to others at the table

      I played sng successfully up to $24 and in general found the tighter the better but you still have to play poker, base your decisions on peoples ranges
    • wasy8
      wasy8
      Black
      Joined: 29.01.2009 Posts: 1,507
      If you do not have SNG wiz i highly recommend you buy it.
    • pzhon
      pzhon
      Bronze
      Joined: 17.06.2010 Posts: 1,151
      Originally posted by gavinonymous
      I'm playing very tight early on while the donks and fish knock each other out. This raises my $EV a good amount,
      That's a common misconception. According to the ICM, you don't increase your equity much by making it into the top 6 by watching others knock each other out. Serious players who are looser in early levels increase their equities by much more in early levels than serious players who are very tight in early levels.

      ... so yesterday I'm explaining this to my poker illiterate gf (she's really cool like that) and she asks me why I play so cautiously when I am more skilled (clearly) than most of the pool at my limit. I explain why it's best to play tight early on, and she implores me to try playing looser - engage the bad players and not be such a pushover.
      If you can't explain your actions to others, this is a warning sign that you might be doing the wrong things.

      If you see a bad player limp in from middle position, what range do you put them on? How does ATo do against that range? So, why not play it from the CO or BTN? Fear that they might call, and they might hit, and you might pay them off? If they are bad players, why would you expect them to outplay you postflop when you have position on them?

      Your sample size is small, and there is a tendency for players to go overboard. Don't decide you can play any hand because you are just going to outplay everyone postflop. When you play total trash, you often end up with a bluffing hand later, and you may be playing people who call too much, precisely those you don't want to bluff. However, if you do it right, you may be able to add 2-4% to your ROI by playing looser early.
    • Preaver
      Preaver
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.07.2006 Posts: 14,928
      Originally posted by gavinonymous
      I went from my usual -5% to 5% ROI (100 games) to 40%!! ROI (100 games) on a sunday for the first time in recent memory. (actually turned a 200 game 20BI B.E/downswing into a vertical upswing!!) I know... small sample.
      I dont want to go into detail about the other stuff you said, but you should consider that 100 sngs is like next to nothing when speaking about samplsizes. Its completely normal to have these kinds of swings in your ROI over such a small samplesize. You can easily be a loosing player and yet achieve a ROI of 40% in 100 games.
    • gavinonymous
      gavinonymous
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.12.2008 Posts: 1,146
      Thanks for your replies guys, very helpful especially pzhon.

      p.s. I do have sng wizard, and about 5000 game sample size

      I agree playing trash hands and trying to outplay your opponents on every hand is not a good strategy :) but loosening up and engaging with position and good hands early is a net positive for $EV in my opinion and short experience. I'll continue developing a more active style and let you know how it goes.

      The ATo example is a good one, and this scenario happened just recently, where I might have folded before I am more likely to isoraise in position. I'll start to post some more hands to make sure I'm not spewing.

      So far so good, cashed in 7 of last set of 9 (and lost a lot of flips)

      In keeping with a more aggressive style - I'm judiciously using the stop and go play a lot more with much success vs. BU and CO. I also raise more often to steal blinds in middle levels than before (where I would have open folded previously) and find myself more often flatting SC's and suited aces occasionally to several limpers pf.

      Limping along also seems to have the added effect of increasing action.. someone might raise and donkeys/fish always call.. multiway pots are also somehow easier to steal cheaply and easy to get away from when I miss.

      At the most, I'm happy to find a more interesting and fun style to play SNG's than playing only monsters early and taking my chances with ICM later against big stack regs :) Thanks again for your replies