Over the last couple of years I have worked my way through the ranks on the Texas Holdem Limit Games. Setting myself a goal of winning a certain amount before moving up to the next level etc. I strongly recommend this strategy to new players and it has allowed me to build my bank at a nice hourly rate. But variety is the 'spice of life' as they say and in recent times I have found myself looking for a change of pace.
As it happened, a friend of mine suggested that I tackle some Sit and Go's. These are basically 10 person No Limit Texas Holdem tournaments where you pay an entry fee plus around 10% rake. The net prize money is then divided up amongst the top 3 players. Typically 50% to the winner, 30% for second place and 20% for third. The blinds start out small and increase over time (every 10 minutes at Party Poker) until only one player remains.
There are also speed tournaments where the blinds increase more frequently and the players are given less time to act. There appears to be good value in these games as most players tackle them upside down? Upside down? – I hear you say. Correct! The ideal way to play these games is to stay tight early and then get really aggressive towards the end of the game when the blinds get to about five times their starting amount. The value in these games stems from the fact that most punters do the opposite.
The first mistake is that the average player is too aggressive in the early rounds making big bets to win only small blinds. Therefore, when everyone folds and they pick up the blinds the reward is small. However, when they eventually do get called it is generally by someone with a premium hand causing them to lose half or all their chips.
The second major error is that most players get too conservative towards the end of the game. When you get down to five or six players many will tighten up in an effort to hold on to make the top three positions – to get in the money. But the prize money is skewed to the top end and the highest expectancy will be achieved by players who are playing to win! The best strategy here is to increase your aggressiveness as the average player is tightening up - slipping into folding mode.
This is where making notes on the style of your different opponents can be critical. If you have seen that a specific opponent has a propensity to allow other players to steal his blind then a generally successful strategy is to throw in a minimum raise with virtually any two cards. If an opponent has shown a willingness to come over the top when players are stealing then you know only to raise against him with a real hand etc.
Another common mistake in these games is to wait too long to go all in. For instance, if you are considering a raise pre-flop then you also need to consider your position should you get a caller. If you are going to be pot committed, that is, the pot will be big enough relative to your stack that you are going to be committed to betting the remainder of your chips irrespective of what comes on the flop, then you should go all in before the flop to maximise the chances of winning the pot right there and then.