Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Double Or Nothing SNGs Strategy



Double or Nothing SNG Strategy – High Level Overview

Our view is that these are true ‘grinders’ games in which your earnings comes from those some ‘crazy’ players who will just give their buy-in away during the early stages. Solid ‘bubble’ play is a must – as this will allow you to take your share (or more!) of the cash left by the players who misunderstand the right strategy for these games.
You will find many multi-tabling grinders in Double or Nothing SNGs, at the mid-levels this might include several opponents on each table. It is vitally important that you identify who these players are, and adjust your strategy when they enter the pot with a raise.

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Double or Nothing SNG Strategy – Stage by Stage

DoN Strategy - Early Stages – Blinds 10 / 20 to 25 / 50:

You should play extremely tight for the first few levels of a double or nothing. This is the stage in the tournament where you can let the fish battle it out and hopefully a few players will bust out at this stage. Your goal is to not risk chips and to preserve your stack so that you will be able to make moves in the middle and late stages. You want to only play premium hands in this stage and only bet when you feel you're ahead.
You should be avoiding coin flips throughout the double or nothing tournament, but especially in the early stages. The expected value of the risk is not worth it in double or nothing tournaments because the most you can possible win is double your entry fee. Therefore the coin flip would have a completely even expected value if you were guaranteed to win the tournament if win the coin flip. Unfortunately this is not the case and even if you double up early you may still very well not cash. As you can see coin flips in double or nothing tournaments are not beneficial to either player.
  • Watch your opponents, grinders will be folding 95% of hands here while those new to the game will raise or call with a wider range. Find out who is only playing top hands and avoid them later in the game.
  • Fold all but premium hands in early position and avoid flat calling raises from any position, reraising with monsters. Big-pot hands such as small pairs can be limped behind from later positions, however if a player yet to act has shown themselves to be aggressive this should also be avoided.
  • Preserving your stack is key in the first few blind levels. This gives opponents the opportunity to bust each other, while maintaining the threat of a large raise during the middle stages.
DoN Strategy - Middle Stages – Blinds 25 / 50 to 75 / 150:
When the middle stages roll around the blinds will start to get big relative to your stack. Your goal at this stage is to maintain your stack so that you have enough chips to try to survive the bubble in the late stages. You can start to try to steal some blinds at this stage from good positions and with strong hands. Once the blinds get fairly big you should no longer be calling raises. Your chips are too valuable to risk and you should be either pushing all-in or folding in almost all situations. You still want to be tight in this stage, but extremely aggressive when you feel you have the best of it.
  • With a small ante kicking-in at the 25 / 50 blind levels the incentive to steal blinds is increased, by the 50 / 100 level this becomes an important stack-maintenance strategy. Combine good position with your prior observations and focus on the medium-stacks and the tight opponents at your table to ensure that you steal your share.
  • Rarely call any raises. Any time you are faced with a raise you should ask yourself how often you expect your opponent to fold to a re-raise, based on previous behavior, their position and expected raising / calling ranges. If your hand is not good enough to re-raise all-in then it is rarely good enough to see a flop with when the risk of losing chips is vital to the later stages of the game.
  • Stack size considerations start to become important during the middle stages, especially in those games where 3 players have already busted. Avoid playing pots with the very large stacks where possible. You should also bear in mind that a short-stack might make a stand with a less than premium hand and avoid being pot-committed against them without a strong holding – flipping a coin for half of your stack in a disaster with such a flat payout structure.

DoN Strategy - Late Stages – Blinds 100 / 200 +

 After about two fifths of the players in the tournament have busted you are down to the late stages. At this stage of the tournament you are just doing anything you can to survive and not bubble. If you were able to accumulate some chips with a big hand earlier in the tournament you should play it safe, not risk your chips and wait for another player to bubble. If you are one of the short stacks you should be trying to survive by stealing blinds from good positions. Target the medium stacks as these will be the players who are least likely to call you. The medium stacks have enough chips that they feel they can wait it out and win the tournament, but few enough that they would be crippled if you doubled through them.
  • At the 6-player bubble and interesting phenomenon occurs, with (hypothetical) ‘even stacks’ each player would have an equity equal to 16.66% of the prize pool – so $16.66c in the $10 buy-in games. However, winning an all-in can only increase this to 20% (or $20 in our example). In any confrontation you are risking almost $17 to win an additional $3 – this ratio affects bubble strategy in a fundamental way.
  • Never calling all-in during the late stages should be your default strategy, with only very rare exceptions where you either hold aces or have a very large or very small stack. This also relates to situations where calling a smaller raise would commit either you or your opponent to the pot.
  • Pushing all-in to steal the blinds is a great strategy against players who understand the dynamics of the Double or Nothing Sit N Go bubble. Since you should be called only a tiny amount of the time this is a low-risk way of ensuring you maintain enough chips. Your observations from early in the game are important. If an opponent calls with a weak hand then ask yourself how you could have predicted this from previous hands before you blame someone for ‘bad play’.
  • Folding is profitable at an aggressive table, with 6 people at the bubble there is a higher chance of 2 other players busting than in a normal SNG. This also means that the ‘pressure’ from the blinds is lower than usual. Folding should be the default play from the first two positions assuming you have maintained a playable stack.
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