Last night I was coaching a poker student of mine and observing his play in a small, 9-player Sit n Go. Sometimes the dynamics of these tournaments are very interesting. Certain players have definite ways that they want to play and they are going to play that way no matter what. Since these small Sit n Go’s tend to be Turbos, the blinds escalate rather quickly and that suites aggressive styles of play.
In any case the student that I was watching played very well and made the money in several straight tournaments, however, in this particular game, there were several players who continually made large pre-flop raises, sometimes ridiculous raises, like all-in into a $50-$100 blind.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when you are sitting at one of these Sit n Go’s and see someone playing this way. First, do not try to limp in if he is playing from a position after you. You will inevitably lose your bet if you don’t have the stomach to call his raise. Only limp in if you have a very premium hand and plan on re-raising him all-in.
The next thing to remember is, he is probably not making these raises with good cards every time. He is counting on the table viewing him as a bully and laying down for him. The way to combat this type of player is to simply sit back and wait for a good hand. I mean something like A-K, A-Q, A-J or a pocket pair over T-T. You can be pretty sure that any of these hands will have him dominated. You may also want to at least see the flop if possible, with any pocket pair. Players like these tend to get out in front of their hands, and if you happen to hit a set on the flop you can usually end up with all his chips.
The other thing to keep in mind if a player is bullying you like this when you are in the blinds, is that it doesnt do you any good to know he is doing it with nothing, if you too have nothing. In other words, if you are sure you are being pushed around, but you have 9-2 off suit, it doesn’t do you much good to get into a confrontation with him. You must be patient.
The player I was coaching wanted to re-raise with K-5 off suit and I had to hold him back. He said “but I know this guy doesn’t have anything!” My response was, “well, neither do you!” You do not want to get into playing one random hand against another. Believe me, patience will be rewarded in these types of situations. Don’t call him with junk and don’t raise him with junk either. Make sure that you have something that you at least won’t mind going to war with because the other thing to remember with these players is that their ego tends to get involved. They get so into their “table bully” position that they will not lay down a hand that they should to a re-raise many times. Be aware of this and if it happens, make sure you at least have something competitive. You will have to eventually pick a hand to confront him with, that is a given, just don’t do it with junk.
All in all, these small, short, Sit N Go’s are fun to play and can be profitable. You do need to learn how to handle the various personalities that you will find at the table time and time again. Once you have done that, the game will become mush easier for you.
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