How to Crush Small Buy-In Sit N Goes Online
A common complaint about poker strategy articles and videos is that the ideas put forward by pro players don’t work at the smallest buy-ins. The differences in how your opponents approach hands can be very different at the micros, especially in Sit N Goes. This page sets the record straight. Below you will find strategy specifically designed for low stakes Sit N Go tournaments.
Of course, regular poker strategy still applies. This format will look at the key approaches to each stage of a Sit N Go (based on the most common 1 table, 9 players and 3 prizes format), then add in adjustments for low stakes opponents.
Here is what you will find below:
The standard approach to 1-table tournaments at all buy-in levels is the same. You need to play with an aim of betting to the bubble – when one player needs to bust before the prize money – with enough chips to have some fold equity.
There are good reasons for this approach, which are dictated by the maths behind how the prize money is distributed. Without going into too much detail on prize pool equity and the Independent Chip Model, the idea is this:
The idea of chip conservation means you should be more conservative with the hands you play, and especially when calling big bets. You do need to accumulate chips, as these will be your primary weapon at the bubble. At the lowest stakes, your opponents will make so many mathematical mistakes (based on prize pool equity) that your edge will be huge. Simply by getting there, and playing a solid game, you will win money in low stakes Sit N Goes over time.
In the low buy-in games you will meet a lot of crazy opponents. Bet sizes will be big, many players will limp into pots (almost always with speculative hands) and people will call too many bets after the flop.
You should be selective in your hand selection – and avoid playing anything that can be easily dominated from early position. Hands like Ace-Nine and under are simply unplayable in this situation. The main objective is to give yourself a shot at doubling up, without risking too many chips. Calling bets and then folding the flop is simply too expensive.
Here are the early stage adjustments I recommend for the low stakes Sit N Goes:
When the blinds start going up and the number of players start to go down, you can go from tight to selectively aggressive. By the middle stages, you will have an idea of who the wild players are in your game, and who are the loose-passive ‘calling station’ types.
The same concept of maximizing profits for your big hands apply. At the $10 and under buy-in levels people will not notice that you have been tight early – and will often pay you off with all kinds of 2nd best hands.
Here are the adjustments I would make in the middle stages at the lower buy-ins:
During the late stages of a typical Sit N Go, the blinds are so big that post-flop play is not possible. You have only one choice to make – to go all in or fold. Standard strategy at this point is based on prize pool equity – not chip equity. Players will push all-in with a wide range of hands. This is a positive expectation play, since, mathematically, opponents need a very strong hand to call.
The critical skill at this stage is to put opponents on a range of hands – and to know what you can properly call with according to the maths. There are special tools called ICM Calculators, which help you work on these ranges away from the tables.
With many opponents not understanding this strategy, it is important to work out who knows about it and who does not as you go through the game. Big mistakes are made at this point – and you can benefit from them by making some adjustments.
Here are the later stage Sit N Go strategy adjustments for the later stages:
After the bubble bursts, you need to go for 1st place. The pay jumps are levelled out now, and prize pool equity strategy has a smaller effect. Players that were nursing small stacks will go all-in with a huge range at this point. This gives you opportunities to get your chips in with an advantage.
Heads up you will find a mix of players at the smallest stakes. Some will be wild, simply pushing all-in with any 2 cards. Others are way too passive, completing their small blind and folding often to aggression. Again, you will need to put players on a range, and decide whether you beat it (taking into account the huge blinds). Look out for limps from players that usually raise, and min-raises. Players with super-strong hands often fail to go all-in. When you see this, it lets you know that their shoves do not include those premium hands.
Here are the adjustments to win when in the money in the smallest stakes games: