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Advanced No-Limit STTs

Mastering single-table tournaments is very difficult and takes a lot of learning and skill. Here are some tips:

If you have the patience, choose the regular STTs over the speed STTs.
Good players have a much higher edge at the regular events, since there is more post-flop play. At the regular STTs, the blinds increase slow enough that there is a fair amount of time before the tournament just devolves into a preflop "all-in or fold" fest. One's variance will be much lower at the regular STTs than the speed STTs. This reduced variance allows players to figure out faster how skilled they are at these types of tournaments as well.

Don't be too liberal seeing the flop at the beginning of the tournament.
While it is nice to see flops and to bust someone if you hit well, the blinds are still higher relative to players' stacks in single-table tourneys than in ring games. Unlike in a no-limit ring game, drawing hands still do not play well in the early rounds of sit-and-go tournaments.

Don't play scared when the blinds get high.
>Near the end stages of the tournaments, you need to be aggressive in order to win. A lot of intermediate players freeze up and just fold a lot, waiting for a premium hand to go all-in. In reality, players should be looking for as many opportunities as possible to steal the blinds. Since the blinds are so valuable, winning them without going to a showdown is very helpful.

Make sure you have a threatening stack.
>The previous tip illustrated the importance of stealing the blinds. It is almost impossible to steal the blinds if your stack is only twice the big blind since it is very likely that at least one of the blinds will call your all-in. People love to knock others out of the tournament, and much of the time the blinds will have pot odds to call you. To be able to have a good chance at stealing the blinds, your stack needs to be at least 3 big blinds, preferably at least 4 big blinds. Having a chip stack this large is almost as important as having any chips at all. So if your stack is about to be dwindled below the 4-big blind mark, consider making a last ditch attempt to steal the blinds, even if your hand is mediocre.

Pot odds are king at the end of the tournament.
>You cannot expect to have huge edges against your opponents when you both go all-in. Having even a small positive expected value most often warrants a call. For example, suppose you are in the big blind with [[cards 10s 7s]]. The blinds are 200-400. Someone in mid-position raises all-in for 950, and it is folded to you. Should you call?

Definitely. You are only putting in 550 chips in what will be a 2,100 chip pot. You only need a 26.1% chance of winning or more for this to be a good call. Even if your opponent has [[cards As Ks]], you have great odds to call.

It is helpful if you know the general odds certain types of hands have against each other all-in preflop. For example, two overcards like [[cards Ah Kc]] generally have a 66% chance of winning against two undercards like [[cards 6s 5d]]. A small pocket pair has about a 55% chance of prevailing against two overcards. If you are unfamliar with these types of probabilities, I suggest you run simulations with common hand situations in our Hand Simulator.

It may be almost impossible to turn a profit at STTs at higher levels.
>For most people, this warning does not apply since few people play STTs higher than $100+$9 buy-ins. However, for some of the very high buy-ins, like $200+$15 or $500+$30, making a profit can be quite difficult, especially at the speed sit-n-go's. First, the competition just may be simply be too hard. Most of the people playing these high stakes are professionals, semi-professionals, or at the very least, serious players. Having any edge at all, let alone an edge that will beat the rake, is incredibly difficult.

Second, unlike ring games, there is no cap on the entry fees. Players in a $5-$10 ring game pay almost the same amount of rake as players in a $50-$100 game, since most sites cap the rake at $3 a hand (sometimes it is increased to $5 a hand). Thus, people who play for nosebleed stakes in ring games at least have the benefit of a significant rake reduction percentage-wise. Having $3 taken out of a $1,000 pot just doesn't matter nearly as much as $3 taken out of a $100 pot.

In contrast, the rake for SNGs continually increases by a large amount. Players in a $200 SNG pony up $15 in rake for each tournament, and players in a $500 donate $30 to the poker room every time they buy-in. The entry fee is still smaller percentage-wise than at the lower buy-in SNGs. However, the percentage discount players in high-stakes SNG get is much smaller than the percentage discount players in ring games receive. Since a person's edge is already greatly minimized by the increased quality of competition at those levels, the amount of rake poses a major hurdle to profitability in high-stakes SNGs for the vast majority of players.

Next Article: Multi-Table No-Limit Tournaments

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