Deviating from starting hands chart

    • Avatars91
      Avatars91
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.12.2009 Posts: 2,689
      How much and when should one deviate from the starting hands chart?

      I switched to SnGs from cash games and find it difficult to adapt to the much tighter preflop play. The problem I face is that I believe that I am missing some +EV spots by playing as tight as the beginners starting hand chart suggests.
  • 3 replies
    • ghaleon
      ghaleon
      Black
      Joined: 17.10.2007 Posts: 5,877
      Just checked some of those beginner starting hands charts. Idea is to play only very strong starting hands to make postflop playing very simple. I don't see reason to follow such strategy for player coming from cash games. Those charts are meant for players who start playing poker with SNGs.

      With some experience you can widen especially late position open raise ranges pretty much as you will be more often in position postflop. So I recommend to try and make your ranges wider, but remember that in SNG games you don't want to get into those marginal situations often, which might be ok in cash games. Check out silver and gold articles to understand differences between cash and SNG.
    • Avatars91
      Avatars91
      Bronze
      Joined: 18.12.2009 Posts: 2,689
      Thanks for the reply, ghaleon.

      From what I've understood, I can't play my hands just the way I do in cash games, because of the ICM and bubble factor. That also means that deviating from the starting hands chart is somewhat a more complex matter in SnGs than it is in cashgames, in my opinion. It's just that in none of the articles available there are given any recommendations on how to extend one's range.
    • pzhon
      pzhon
      Bronze
      Joined: 17.06.2010 Posts: 1,151
      If you were a winning cash game player, then you should not be as tight as complete beginners should be.

      The ICM does NOT say that you should be tight early. You are less risk-averse with 8-9 players left than you are closer to the bubble, and you are less risk-averse in small pots than large. So, your risk aversion at the start of a SNG is very small, particularly when you are playing marginal hands with which you probably won't stack off with one pair. You can verify that the ICM does not tell you to be particularly risk-averse early with my program ICM Explorer. In fact, there are times when you should be less risk-averse in SNGs than cash games because the pots are not raked in SNGs.

      One reason to be tight early in a SNG is that you are sometimes 4, 5, or 6 seats off the button. In full ring cash games, you are supposed to play tightly from these positions. If you are used to playing in shorthanded cash games, you may need to get used to how tightly you should play in early position, or after a raise from early position. However, if you are confident that your hand would be a winning hand from that position in a cash game with that stack depth, then it is usually right to play it in a SNG.

      If you are very new to postflop play, then you might make more mistakes postflop, and this can turn some winning hands into losing hands. This is why beginners should be tighter than more experienced players. Of course, part of being an expert is recognizing that many hands are too weak to play even if you are more skilled postflop.

      Be careful that with shorter stacks, position means less, so you can't be as loose on the button in a SNG as you can in a deep-stacked cash game. This is true when you have 40 bb stacks instead of 100 bb, but it gets more extreme when you have a 20 bb stack and it becomes convenient for players to resteal against a button raise. In addition, you don't have the threat of firing 3 barrels postflop.