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StrategySit & Go

Advanced Bubble Play for Six-Max Sit’n’Gos


In this article
  • Why an adjustment of strategy is necessary in 6-max SNGs
  • What the most common mistakes in 6-max SNGs are
  • Archetypal situations on the bubble

Recently six-max sit’n’gos have become the most prevalent form of poker at high stakes. This is simply due to the reduced number of regulars and reduced volume overall; they are also much more popular at lower stakes than previously for exactly the same reasons.

Unlike nine-ten handed games where three players are paid and which have been covered extensively in books, videos and poker forums, six-max games are still relatively new in terms of the overall evolution of accurate strategy. For this reason many players, even regulars, play them quite badly in a number of ways, especially around the bubble. These include:

  • Ignorance of correct ICM strategies - six-max games require some subtle alterations of the ICM strategy from full-ring play and some players do not make the correct adjustments, looking to avoid taking risks on the bubble and in the early game.
  • Aggressiveness/metagame - on the other hand, many players will get caught up in the general aggression levels of six-max games and begin making calls or shoves that are –EV, either because of tilt or because of a desire to make themselves harder to play against. They may also overestimate the value of gaining a big stack on the bubble.
  • Over-reliance on ICM - we should also remember that whilst, in general, ICM is a useful tool for sit’n’go play, it isn’t perfect and there are situations where it may be correct to deviate from it. Additionally, because the blinds pass through us more quickly in six-max and there are less chips in play, these decisions come up far more often than in full-ring games where the blinds are high.
  • Outdated information – even players who are familiar with six-max sit’n’gos need to be careful when using outdated programs and methods of calculating the correct ranges and to ensure they are up to date with the most recent ones available such as Nash equilibrium.

That's not the entire article...

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Comments (7)

#1 Gerovit, 09 Sep 11 14:31

Finally something about sh sng's i thought you forgot that those exist.
Not very advanced but good guide for beginners.

#2 deVall3y, 09 Sep 11 14:34

Cool article.
You are talking about certain programs being out of date and that advancements have been made in the area. What exactly has changed?
Personally I use SnG wizard, I hope its not out dated...

#3 elfigus, 11 Sep 11 10:49

SNG wizard+ Nash EQ are still good for the 6max analysis

btw nice articole, even most of the 6max regs does not realize how tight should they call due to stack sizes.

hint: with 200/400 pushing and calling ranges are completely different using the same stack sizes written in the examples

#4 JayGatsby, 12 Sep 11 14:23

very nice article Phil!

@3 its even more astonishing how loose esp people who switch from FR to SH push on the bubble, not noticing that they cannot abuse the SH bubble so hard due to lower Bubble factors.

In fact the 6max Bubble is in many spots very similar to 3handed play in 5/3/2 games, where the equilibrium pushing ranges for chipleaders considerably tighten up in comparison to the bubble....

@ Phil: It sounds a bit misleading to first say that people overestimate the positive effects of gaining the chiplead on the bubble but then say that it is very profitable to gain the chiplead if all players have equal stacks on the bubble.

It obviously depends on the specific situation whether the CL gives you a huge or slight advantage on the bubble. So you do not contradict yourself...

Overall I think this is a very good starting point from which one can look into specific spots and topics more thoroughly, so nh ;)

#5 Premiumnerd, 19 Sep 11 18:35

Hey Phil there are some things which I don't really understand:

1st: "which is at the top end of the scale in terms of what you want to risk as an all-in"
Could you explain how you get to this conclusion? I think espacially against good opponents, who understand risk-aversion on the bubble and therefore resteal quite loose, it isn't a mistake to push all-in for at least up to 20 BBs.

2nd "This is therefore a situation where ICM is likely to undervalue the worth of your stack and you should call tighter than recommended."
I don't understand your reasoning there. We have to call very tight against the Bigstack and we can't push very loose against him as well. Whereas the Bigstack as well as the Shorty will put a lot of pressure on us. I think that the ICM maybe even overvalues the worth of our stack in this situation. Furthermore you say we should call tighter due to the shorty, who may has to risk his chips in -EV-spots, but to me this means, that he is pushing looser and therefore we also should call a bit looser against him, shouldn't we?

Overall I think you should explain your argumentation a bit more and not just claim things. And I really don't see a lot of advanced content in this article, only the difference between dominant and non-diminant chipleader was quite interessting. Anyways I'm happy to read some SH-sng content and would really like to read more of it. I hope your next article will be even better ;)

#6 PhilShaw, 20 Sep 11 14:27

Hi guys,

thanks for reading, in response to quesitons:

all - if you have any ideas for more advanced topics youd like to see covered pls contact me or post them here! There are however many high stakes players who dont understand these concepts so you might like to jump in those games too if you think this is very basic as you will probably do well ;-)

devall3y - nash and sngwiz are fine, most other programs are now outdated.

Jay - i mean that i think think three handed is by far the best situation for pushing ahead to try and divide and conqueor in general, of course it depends on the other players however, and its easy for players to overestimate the bubble effect in most situations if they are used to full ring and start pusing too wide.

- risk aversion on the bubble is quite low in 6 max and many players call far too loose, even 'pros'. You can certainly shove as many bbs as you want, but i would generally not shove more than 15 unless theres a very short stack, eg 4k 1k 4k in which case 20 is fine. Shoving very large bb numbers regularly is bad in my opinion as it makes you unbalanced and people will not fold many more hands, especially if they view your range as weak.

- I should have been clearer and said that calling tighter than nash was refering to calling against the big stack and risking elimination, of course we should call loose against the small stack and maybe even slightly looser than recommended to end the bubble.

thanks for reading!


#7 Premiumnerd, 20 Sep 11 22:22

Hi phil, thanks for your answer.

I guess you're kinda right with your argumentation that shoving more than 15 BB isn't that great, but I think you can't say that risk aversion is quite low in 6 max generally. Of course it is lower than in 9 max games but it still can be quite high in certain situations. Just wanted to mention this, although of course I'm sure that u know these things probably better than I do, but I think you should be careful with these kind of statements. This for example could be a good topic for an advanced article, namely how to deal with different types of player on the bubble. Personally I often have problems with Villains who call a lot bvb on the bubble and also don't fold that much postflop. It's a problem because with a cbet postflop I would basically commit myself and therefor I have to play kind of a fit or fold game. Or I have to reduce my SB-Range to very strong hands only and that kinda sucks as well. I hope u understand what I want to say^^. So for example you could write about how you play against abc-regs, loose-passive-fish, loose-aggressiv fish, LAGs and maybe even more on the bubble. Especially with more than 15BB but also with less than 15 BB could be interessting for example when you decide to minraise instead of pushing, as in my eyes on the Bubble pushing very often is the better alternative. But if you have a different view I would really like to read it. I think it is easy to find a strategy that is +EV on the bubble but I am not sure if it is also always the maxEV strategy.

to my second question you still didn't tell me why exactly u think that the ICM undervalues the worth of our stack in this situation. I guess it is really hard to prove that in an unchallangeable way, but I think you didn't prove this statement at all.