Sit and go strategy - allowing the short stack to live longer.
written by Marty Smith
You may be able to steal more blinds by not ELIMINATING an opponent
There is an interesting dynamic in sit and go tournaments that happens to me approximately one out every five times I place in the money. The situation occurs when I am the chip leader and can take any of the other 3 remaining players out of the tournament in any given hand. In fact, I have them all covered and there is quite possibly a short stack facing elimination on the bubble with no money. When this occurs, there is a strategy I engage that solidifies me as the odds on favorite to win first place.
Let me give you a scenario for example. I am at a 9 seated, $10 plus $1 sit and go on Full Tilt Poker – my favorite new site. All players started with 1,500 chips and there are four players left. I happen to be the chip leader with 6,850 while a short stack who has just 525 chips is to my immediate left. The other two players are both around 3100 in chips and have tightened up for an expected in-the-money finish. The blinds are 100/200 and I am the small blind while the short stack awaits my next move as the other two players folded and I am holding A9s.
Surely I am the favorite here, and under normal circumstances would put the short stack to an all in decision. Instead – I fold and hand over my small blind to the short stack who now sits at a somewhat relieved 625 chips. Why would I do that, you may ask? Having the other two tight players, set on making the money is an advantage to a big stack in this situation, because having that 4th player still alive means that I can still threaten them with bubble play. Meaning, I can take more blinds, out of position when the two tight players are the small blind and big blind.
With a good chip lead like this one, and several tight players, I want to extract as many blinds as I can because I want my dominant position even stronger as the session changes into heads up play. This is in thinking with the first or third philosophy, where I know I am going to make the money, but I want to be aggressive short handed most of the time, so that I get more than my fair share of first place payoffs. Let’s say in the above situation that one of the other players collects all the chips instead of me. We get heads up and guess what? We are almost even in chip count. Then it may be anybody’s game. Yes, I usually do still have an advantage, but I really want the kind of advantage where I am also a 4 to 1 or even 5 to 1 chip leader! This will virtually eliminate the chance of my opponent winning the tournament by drawing out. And we all know how often that happens heads up. I have a video of this exact strategy in my free sit and go poker video series.
Keep this opportunity in mind as you get into a money position. Don’t start playing like you are just happy to make the money, play like you are happy to take the money!