Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sit n Go Strategy-General Overview

Sit n goes have a great deal of strategy and planning involved. There are many factors that you can control to help increase your chances of moneying the tournament. With this knowledge in your possession you will be able to find the easiest possible sit n goes and play your best.

Buy In

The first factor to consider is what buy in sit n go you will enter. A good rule of advice is to never enter a sit n go that is more than 1/10th of your total bankroll. This means that if you want to play a $11 single table sit n go you should have a bankroll of at least $110. Sometimes you are going to find yourself getting strings of terrible beats, and when this happens you have to make sure your bankroll is large enough to sustain it.

Also, if you are playing a sit n go that has a high buy in, you may feel uncomfortable. This will cause you to be nervous and break down during key situations which will greatly decrease your chances of winning the sit n go.


The second factor you are going to need to look into is the structure of the sit n goes you are playing. Sit n goes that start you with more chips and have slowly increasing blinds are going to be more advantageous to a skilled player. Likewise, if the sit n go starts you with few chips and has fast blinds it is going to be more luck than skill. Party Poker is one of the better sites as far as their sit n go structure, as you start with 2000 chips and blinds are raised slowly. Another good choice is Noble Poker as it has a similar structure to Party.

Another thing to consider is if you want a site that has 9 player sit n goes or 10 player sit n goes. The 10 player sit n goes are more advantageous to skilled players because you are usually just adding another fish to the tournament. This increases the prize pool without really harming your chances of winning. Sites with 10 player sit n goes are Party Poker and Paradise Poker.


As the sit n go progresses you aren't likely to have any monster hands that will guarantee you a money finish. Most of the time you will reach the money by making good decisions based on observations. As you play make sure to watch the other players and take notes. If you notice one player is always betting the flop after he raises make sure you take a note. If someone is always getting pushed off hands take notice. Almost every poker site has the option of notes, so use them. These notes you take will help you as this sit n go progresses as well as help you in the future when you see these players again.

Multi Tabling

When you enter a sit n go it is almost always advantageous to you to enter at least 2. When you are playing a sit n go it can become quite boring during the early stages. This will cause you to lose focus and possibly make bad decisions. By having 2 or 3 sit n goes running at once you can keep yourself occupied while still being able to take notes on players.

Track Your Play

Of all poker players, sit n go players may be the ones who need to keep records the most. Since sit n goes of the same buy in are all very similar, by keeping records you can identify flaws in your game and improve them. An easy way to do this is to make a simple spreadsheet with a row for each sit n go you play.

Add info such as the date/time, the buy in, the results, and a reason category. The reason category can be especially useful, as you can enter if you went on tilt after a bad beat, or made a bad read, as you will forgot these things over time.

This is the 2nd article of 5 in a sit n go strategy series. To view the complete series of sit n go articles: Sit n Go Strategy

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Don't believe what you see on television

While watching televised poker is an excellent way to learn how to play the game, you really need to be careful about how you interpret what you're seeing.

The key point to remember is that you're watching an edited-down poker show. You're not seeing all the hands played, and that can give you a skewed version of what is really happening.

For example, you might have seen me make a bluff in a certain situation that looked foolish because my opponent called. What you might not have seen, however, is how that silly bluff paid off later in the game.

There is always more to the story than what you see on television.

ESPN's coverage is fantastic, but the product is basically a highlight reel of an all-day final table. It would be impossible to tell the whole story in the amount of airtime that they have, so you're left seeing crowd-pleasing confrontations like A-K against a pair of jacks.

You might be wondering how these players get so many great hands. Well, they don't. You're seeing the most exciting hands from a nine-hour final.

The Travel Channel's poker show, World Poker Tour, is a little closer to reality. Two hours are dedicated to each WPT broadcast, and the final table generally lasts between four to five hours. However, there are also inherent problems with learning from this show.

Although you're seeing a much higher percentage of hands, play is distorted by the fact that the blinds escalate so quickly that the element of skill is reduced. As a result, you'll see players going all-in with K-5 and other players calling with hands like K-10.

That's not real poker, and if you operate this way in a normal tournament setting, you're playing far too recklessly and aggressively.

Check out GSN
Television's best teaching tool is undoubtedly GSN's High Stakes Poker. This program brings together professionals and amateurs, including the likes of Jerry Buss and Bob Stupak, in an actual cash game setting. The blinds don't escalate and the goal isn't necessarily to get all the money.

Players compete for cash that they put up themselves. I actually plopped down a million bucks to play in this game. Sure, I was paid $1,250 per hour to be on the show, but if the cards didn't go my way, I could have lost my entire investment.

High Stakes Poker takes 24 hours of footage and breaks it down into a 13-week series. The play is very sophisticated and as close to watching high stakes live poker as you're going to get. Even with this show, I'd add the following caution at the bottom of the screen: Viewer discretion is advised. Do not try these plays at home!

Why? Again, the play is very advanced. Copying these moves and trying them on your buddies at your home game might not work so well.

Learn what you can
Having said all that, watching poker on television is still the best way to learn how to play No Limit Hold'em — short of actually sitting down at a real table. The key is to understand what you're watching and take everything with a grain of salt.

It's important to understand that players on ESPN don't get better cards than those on The Travel Channel. On top of that, television likes to show the craziest hands. Going all-in with J-6 isn't such a great idea, even if you've seen Gus Hansen try it on the World Poker Tour.

By all means, learn what you can from the professionals on television, but understand you're seeing only the tip of the proverbial poker iceberg.