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Poker Tournaments

July 4, 2008

Full Tilt Sit-n-Go Final Table

Last night I was playing a 90 player Sit n Go on Full Tilt. I had gotten to the final table and had a pretty average stack. After a couple of very small stacks had been eliminated, I noticed pretty much all the other players seemed to be playing very tight. I watched some position raises that caused the blinds to fold and I noticed that no one was going in from early position much at all. This is typical of a final table where most of the participants have not been there much before.

The key to actually winning Sit n Go’s or to at least doing well once you get to the final table is simply aggression. Most players do not want to look foolish or jeopardize their chip stack with anything less than a premium hand. This is the total opposite of the approach you need to take. If you sit around waiting for premium cards, especially when the blinds are high, you probably will not have enough chips to make a difference once you get them.

At this final table, the blinds were high. $4000-$2000 with $300 ante when there were about 7 players left. Most of the chip stacks were anywhere from $15,000- about $60,000. None of these are a comfortable stack with the blinds that high. Consequently, the players were tightening up, not wanting to raise or call a raise of $8,000 or $12,000. Noticing this, I took advantage.

I should point out, that my chip stack was nearly decimated and I was down to aprox. $7500 in chips after losing an all-in confrontation where I raised from the button with A-3 and was called by the Big Blind who happened to have A-J. If this is the thing you worry about at a final table, then you are going to have problems. If I am in late position at a short-handed table with A-3 and I get beaten by A-J then so be it. Most of the time my raise would have resulted in a fold anyway.

So, right after nearly being put out, I was in 7th place with $7500. I was dealt K-8 off suit. Good enough for me, all-in. Everyone folds and I nearly double my chip stack by picking up the blinds and antes. You can probably see where this is going. Having identified the table to be tight, I was determined to take advantage. Anytime I was dealt a face card, an ace, or connectors, I went all-in. Notice, I didn’t fool around with calling to see the flop or a raise; I went all-in.

With $14,000 in chips, I had enough to hurt any chip stack who called me, so I was able to pick up the blinds more often than not. When I had built up my chip stack, I went from last place to 2nd place with little or no confrontations. At this point, I tried to get into every hand if I could. If I hit ANY PIECE of the flop, I would bet it post flop. By doing this, anyone who was calling or limping into a pot had to fold if they did not hit the flop themselves. If I was called by an all-in, as I was several times, I simply folded the hand (unless I had high or middle pair) and resumed again the very next hand.

Remember also, many players will play face cards only in these situations. By playing pretty much anything, if I hit middle pair on the flop, I could usually be pretty sure I had the best hand if there were no face cards or Aces on the board. By doing this, I put out 3 players who had much better starting hands than I did, but did not hit the flop. Any two cards can win in these cases, and if you pair up on the flop, you will be good most of the time against a single opponent. Also, if you are raising to something like 3x the Big Blind, in this case, $12,000, the players with$20,000-$50,000 chip stacks don’t want to risk 1/2-1/4 of their stack unless they have good cards. That is the price they pay for being conservative.

To make a long story short, once I had eliminated everyone else and was down to heads up, I raised every hand and played every hand. My opponent sat waiting for cards. I ended up putting him out with 5-4 off suit when my 5’s hit on the Flop and his A-Q did not pair up. At that point, I had about $200,000+ and he was down to $30,000 so I could afford to play loose hoping to hit a flop and put him out, which is exactly what happened.

You will hear many players say that heads-up and final tables are all luck. I agree, but it is up to you to MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK. By playing aggressively and seeing a lot of flops, you will be in position to win hands that you never would have played early in the tournament. If you get out-kickered or something in a heads up battle and are put out, at least you went out fighting rather than just sitting passively waiting to be blinded off. Many times you will end up putting yourself in position to win, however, by using this approach as I did in this Full Tilt Sit n Go. Luck is for tight players. If you play aggressive enough against these tight players, you don’t need luck.

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