Having played enough 9-seat SNG tournaments by now, I’ve noticed a few different patterns that describe how the tournament plays out for me:
- I flame out early, with premium cards getting beat by better premium cards, or else a lucky suck-out by someone calling with junk.
- I watch a few wild, aggressive betters going all-in on the first few hands, or just betting a large chunk of their stack every hand. I can’t play because of their betting making me too shy to commit to any cards. Eventually they get busted and then I can play. Maybe I’ll luck into a set or a straight and knock them out myself.
- I start out hot, with some decent hands, hit top pair on the flop frequently, and win several small pots. At some point, someone else hits a monster and takes me for most of those early gains, or worse.
- I get decent starting hands, but someone else always has something better, and I lose about 1/2 to 2/3 of my stack in the first couple of orbits. I hunker down and tighten up, and make a comeback when a great hand finally hits me, and I manage to double or triple up my stack back to health, maybe even taking the chip lead.
- I play super tight, and play very few hands, but do well when I am in a hand, winning big pots and avoiding losing chips with weaker hands to hold on to my stack. If I get dealt cards within my tight range often enough, I’ll do well, if not, I’ll starve and bleed out through the blinds once they get too big.
- I play super tight, and play very few hands, but never flop into anything good. Suited board that doesn’t match either of my Aces, get QQ vs AA, etc.
- I get an early win to a big pot and coast a while, bleed out through a series of hands that don’t go my way but looked promising early. Around the time I’m down to 1700 chips or so, I start getting more aggressive, and bully the other small stacks to steal blinds and pots, and after a few hands of this suddenly I’m in the lead. Then I dial back the aggression and start playing good hands, and if I hit a hot streak, I can run away with it, otherwise I can slog through and take a chip win.
- I get ice cold cards, but they hit the flop amazingly well. If only I could have played them… I make straights or flushes like no one’s business, but only with rags that I don’t play. This makes me increasingly frustrated and impatient, and feel like I should open my range, or, really, invert it, and start playing junk. Only if I actually do that, of course that’s not one of the hands that I flop a monster.
I’m curious what patterns other players have noticed with their games.
I also have noticed that the character of the game seems to change around the time the blinds hit 75/150. Around this point in the game, usually 1-2 or sometimes 3 players have been eliminated, and it becomes profitable to open my starting range somewhat, and play a suited face card, rag pairs, or Any Ace.
When the blinds hit about 300, and there are 4-5 players left at the table, it becomes possible to win hands by raising 2BB preflop, expecting no calls. I generally do this only with a hand that I can raise with, but it seems reliable enough that you could probably get away with stealing when you needed to. Especially when there’s chips awarded to the top 3 finishers, players are reluctant to put their tournament life at risk when there’s 4-5 left in the thing.