During the early stages of a Sit&Go the rule of thumb to always follow is “tight is right”. Many of the “all-in maniacs”, as we discussed early, will be all-in early. This will knock out 2-3 players before you may even play a hand, which will greatly increase your chances of landing a spot in the money. When I talk about the “early stages” of a Sit&Go, I am referring to the first three blind levels. Your goal during the first 3 blind levels is just to survive, as you will be able to outsmart players as the tournament progresses when players began to bet less.
Just because the blinds are low compared to your chip stack, you still need to avoid just limping in with marginal hands. This will cause you to get beat by hitting top pair because your kicker will more than likely not hold up, or you will get outdrawn. You are rarely going to hit the flop hard with these types of hands. If you avoid this, it will more than likely keep you out of trouble!
When you do get a strong hand before the flop, you need to be aggressive. Blinds at this time will be low so a raise of 5-6x the big blind will have to be necessary. If you were to only raise the standard 3x big blind according to what the poker strategy books will tell you in that situation, you will more than likely see multiple players call. This will cause you a greater chance of your big hand being cracked. If you have a large pocket pair such as AA, KK, QQ you are still more likely to get a caller if you raise it 6x the big blind. I am sure you would rather be in a heads up situation than in a multi way pot especially if the flop comes with a flush draw or straight draw on the board. Even if everyone folds because of your raise, its not a big deal, at least you won something instead of being knocked out early in the tournament because you decided to be greedy and got cracked.
In the early stages you should never want to put all your chips in the pot preflop, unless you have AA or KK. Even a hand like QQ can be cracked easily by AQ or a smaller pair, laying it down to a multi-player all in will save you money in the long run. I know it’s hard to fold them ladies, but sometimes you just have to do it! It’s more profitable to save your chips for later in the tournament to gamble with.
If you have a hand such as AK or AQ and you raise just about 6x the big blind, you need to carefully evaluate what you are going to do on the flop. If one player has already come in with you and the flop is bad, let’s say 10,8,2, than it is more likely than not he will call a continuation bet. When you put in your preflop raise and the flop does not help your hand you need to slow down and avoid bluffing chips away. If check in this situation, and your opponent bets, it may be very possible he is bluffing, but you should lay it down. There are still plenty of chips left that you can use when you have a stronger hand.
When the Sit&Go progresses in the early rounds and you just aren’t getting any cards, do not be discouraged. You may also notice that everyone’s chip stack may be slightly higher than yours and other players are building their chip stacks while you are just folding.
Patience, Patience, Patience! Having a big stack early may be nice, but it is not necessary.
The crucial time of a Sit&Go is in the middle and late stages. In the middle and late stages that’s where the skill full players shine and accumulate chips. Never feel pressured to start to play hands just because you feel that you need to start building a stack. During the early stages, you could fold every single hand, and still be in excellent shape on your way to taking down first in the middle and late stages. Below is a quick recap…
Play tight, flawless poker
Only bet when you have a hand
Don’t get involved with the “all in maniacs”
Take notes and observe all the players at the table