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Texas Hold’em is not an easy game to play well. To become an expert you need to be able to balance many concepts, some of which may contradict each other.


“The beauty of poker is that on the surface it is a game of utter simplicity, yet beneath the surface it is profound, rich, and full of sublety.”
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Single Table Tournament Strategy

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As with Multi Table Tournaments (MTT’s), 'Sit and Go' or 'Single Table Tournaments' (STT’s) are also booming in the online poker community. Poker players enter for a set “buy in”. Registration is normally the same as for a ring game – you select your table and take your preferred seat. When the table is full, the tourney begins. Each player is given the same number of chips, and the game continues until one lucky (or skilful) player has all the chips. Prize structures vary, but normally the last three players win money, with the winner taking roughly 50% of the prize fund.

Why are STT’s becoming so popular? Poker MTT’s can be hard work, especially if you bust out after two hours, just outside the money. And we’ve all experienced the frustration of sitting patiently in a ring game, only to have AA cracked on the river by 98o. STT’s offer the chance of first rate recreational play and, for a winning poker player, steady gains with far lower variance than that offered by a ring game.

Here’s how:

Fun - With an STT you’re always in the game. You have to be. With games rarely lasting as long as an hour, you have to bet sooner or later. You must expect to bluff at some stage, and All-Ins are a certainty. Lots of All-Ins! And if you bust out early, there is no need to wait several hours for the next game at your level – just sit down at a new table and off you go.
Variance - For winning players, STT variance is far smaller than that dealt up by ring games. Your exposure to a bad beat (or a bad decision!) is limited to the entry fee for that tourney. And that very fact promotes bad play from the “gamblers” and “bluffers” – bad play that will fund your STT bankroll.

Easy! All you need to do is to work out how to be a winning STT player, and then the money will flow! Well its not that simple. All poker is situational, and this is especially true in the fast moving environment of the STT. But the basics set out in these pages should be enough to get you started on the way.
Although there are limit and high stakes STT’s available, this strategy is based on experience of low stakes (up to $20), no limit holdem.

Lets look a little deeper into the Single Table Tournament...
In some ways an STT has more in common with a ring game than with an MTT. All you control in an MTT is the level of the stake. After that, the tournament software takes over, giving you new tables and new opposition on a regular basis. But for an STT, all of the general advice on game selection and seating becomes applicable again. Save for elimination, your opponents and position are fixed for the entire tournament, and there is definite advantage (and disadvantage) in your choices.

Poker Tips

Playing poker is not easy but if you practice constantly then you will find out more techniques that will really help you in your poker battles.

Every poker player will have their own unique strategy but it’s also important to adopt a strategy for other online casino games such as roulette, blackjack, craps and even online slots. Playing video poker online may also be a valuable means to improve your skills before playing poker online against other players.

Check out more great online casino games including the best places to claim your casino bonus and where to play free slots.

The popularity of online video poker has grown as fast as normal poker. Poker players visiting a casino online often prefer this version to other casino games.

Don’t enter STT’s where the stake will affect your play. Too high and you choke when it comes to that essential bluff or call. Too low and tilt can creep in – if it isn’t worth winning then don’t enter.

Seat Choice
There’s loads of conflicting advice on seat selection. A positive approach to this advice is to assume it is all right … for someone. Read the advice, but apply it to your own game. For some people, being to the right of a maniac destroys their game; fear lets them folding anything other than AA. If that is you, keep track of any maniacs playing on your site, and avoid sitting in the wrong place. Other people love a maniac, ignoring short term variance and reaping the long term rewards of playing better cards than your opponents. Whichever you are, poker player records will help you in the long run. Check out our strategy section on Poker Animals for an easy method to characterize your opponents.

Sometimes, you’ll be dealt hands that win an STT on their own. But don’t count on it. More often you will have to make something from marginal hands to get into the money. This means observing your opponents’ tendencies is critical to success. If you do nothing else, pay close attention to anyone easily scared off a pot - when the going gets tough, their blinds will be easiest to steal.

No. of Tables
Playing multiple poker tables for ring games is almost a must for anyone other than the beginner. Boredom is a bigger threat to most than basic playing errors and so multiple poker tables reduces tilt. For STT’s, by all means play multiple poker tables but you should accept that for most, this will reduce your profit from the games you play in. Grasping the betting patterns/tendencies of your opponents is essential in the latter stages of an STT, and you only have a short time to learn. More than two tables is a real stretch of your resources.

To get your name in lights then stick to Poker MTT’s. If you love big pots then no limit ring games have all you need. To make money from STT’s, you should keep records. Supriesingly, a simple spreadsheet (as apposed to the health article you planned on writing...) with a page for each type/stake of tourney will soon give you a feel for which is your best game and what you can expect to make from it. Also record how often you are reaching the money, and how your winnings are made up. Remember, there is a big premium for winning an STT, and coming third each time you play will not make you much money.
Your play in the early stages should be very tight. There are plenty of people eager to get into the action, and each “kill” greatly improves your chances of making the money. Even with good poker cards, all-in show downs are marginal.
However, STT’s are a quicker game than an MTT and you want to give yourself enough chips to bet properly during the middle stages. Consider reducing starting hand requirements slightly from late position where there are no raises.
This is no limit poker and the expected value of say, a small pocket pair, can be very high.
Hands that I will play from any position in the early stages: JJ, QQ, KK, AA, and AK suited. Be prepared to let all but AA and KK go if someone goes all in.
Hands I will play (for cheap!!) in late position include two suited face cards, and suited aces down to an eight. You are looking here for a nuts or near nuts hand (nut flush, full house or straight) that you can afford to slow play and make a big gain for a small initial stake. I’ll also play any pocket pair, especially against multiple callers, because of the disguise value if I hit a set on the flop. I never bluff in the early stages of an STT. The blinds aren’t worth it, and if there are multiple poker callers, one of them will pay to see you. Post flop you should be mega-tight and never jeopardise either your chips or your table image chasing the river.
One big difference between an STT and an MTT is where one poker player amasses a huge chip lead in the early stages. In an MTT, you hate having them on your table. They steal the pots while people on other tables are playing hands. But in an STT I always like a clear chip leader. The bluffers are in big trouble - whatever they throw in, big stack can afford to call. I can play nice and tight and still keep up. On occasions I’ve reached the money in this type of game without making any significant bets.

Play tight, do not bluff and always remember position. Let the fish die off, without burning too many chips, but look for cheap opportunities to make gains. Create the impression you are a rock.
In an STT the time to change gears can be dictated by the number of poker players left, or by the increasing blinds. In a tight game, the blinds can go up three or even four times without anyone being eliminated, but in low stakes games expect to see three or more players out within 20 hands.
Now loosen up and play your regular game. Middle stages are also prime time to bluff at a few blinds. By now you’ve seen enough of your opponents to know who is susceptible to a bluff. Look for semi-bluffing opportunities in late position (especially strong draws to the nuts). Use the threat of just missing the money to your advantage – don’t let it freeze your own play.
Do not overvalue the threat of drawing game hands. Ring games (especially low limit) revolve around multi-way pots. STT’s revolve around two or three way pots. Anyone with a drawing hand is likely to have to pay you at least twice for every time you have to pay them. If you’re ahead, raise and make them pay to draw out on you. And if you reverse this logic, you will rarely have pot odds to justify playing your own draw hands, unless you can limp in or you have other outs (e.g. overcards or pairs).

Middle tournament play should resemble your regular style of ring game play, but with selective aggression against passive players. More times than not, you are going to have to “create” something to get in the money.
Once in the money, remember the premium for winning. When short stacked avoid the temptation to hope the other poker players will take each other out. They’ll be thinking the same and will happily watch you lose on the blinds. I advocate a more aggressive approach. Look to double up with all-in plays based on any reasonable cards. You’ll be surprised how many times the other poker players fold, and more surprised how often you will win with average cards. This does not mean go all in with 72o, but A8o is not such a bad hand when the blinds are killing you.
If you are ahead, keep on the pressure. Respect big raises, but attack calls, especially where both opponents have put in money. By small raises, you can stimulate betting between them and get into the heads up stage even if you lose the pot.
As with all heads-up play, aggression tends to be the winner. On a straight show down, most hands dealt are a coin toss so the winner will be the player who wins with the most bad hands, not the one who gets the most good hands.
Some strategies advocate raising 80 to 90% of hands. I’m not sure if this is true in no limit STT’s but over a long period of time, success is based on the number of hands you bluff rather than the number you win on merit.

Develop your own preferred style. Some players prefer numerous all-ins, others like to use smaller non-fatal raises.
The important thing is to be comfortable and consistent with your strategy, and to monitor if it is working. If your records show you get in the money more than 50% of the time but you are only winning 10% of the time, your heads up play is almost certainly too passive.

PS - I find this advice easy to give but incredibly difficult to follow. You’ll really have to grit your teeth with this one!
In the early stages play tight and avoid confrontation that might lead to elimination. Rely on strong starting hands and mega-tight play post flop. As the tourney progresses, increasing amounts of selective aggression are required. Position is critical, and always check where you are before hitting that raise button.
Realistically you should aim to finish in the money at least half of the time, and to make STT’s a profitable use of your poker time you need to win 1 in 3.
In the long run, the amount of first places, rather than money finishes, will be what sets your positive expected value from STT’s. This is not a freeroll where any money is a bonus!! Third place gives you little more than your stake back – take it where you can get it, but play to win.
My own poker records show on average I finish in the money 6 out of 10 times and make an average profit of 40-50% of my stake. Where I play multiple poker tables this profit rate (known as “positive expected value” or “+ev”) often falls, but if I can keep it at around 30% I’m increasing my hourly profit rate. I believe that with experience it should be possible to play 2 tables at 50% +ev, on stakes up to $10 or even $20. Do some simple math and see how much money those kind of results would make!

If, using this poker strategy, you have success with it (or not), feel free to let us know. If you have any other comments or critiques, positive or negative, they are welcome. Keep it clean, keep it intelligent and best of luck at your next Sit and Go tourney!


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