A Winning Strategy Overview for the Popular Lottery Sit and Go Poker Games Online
Lottery Sit and Goes are one of the few new poker formats to really take off in the last couple of years. The idea of these games is simple. You join a hyper-turbo 3 player Sit n Go, and the prize pool is randomly awarded before your game begins. Most games pay 2x your buy-in (for 3 players) to the winner. The extra money raised from saving a buy-in each time goes towards randomly awarding some big prizes. You can end up playing for 1000x your buy-in or at some sites even more… this could be a €10,000 jackpot (using the iPoker Twisters as an example).
I have already created a comparison for the different lottery Sit N Goes at the main sites. These are now available at PokerStars / Full Tilt (Spin n Go), iPoker (Twister Sit N Goes) and at America’s Cardroom (the only games open to US players at this time). Party Poker also has a game called Sit N Go Hero which shares the random prize pool concept. There are also bounties in those 4-player games, so you’ll need to make adjustments in the strategy below.
My personal choice is the iPoker ‘Twisters’ – these have far fewer ‘grinders’ (semi-pros who specialise in a particular poker format) in the games, making them easier to beat. You can enjoy these games (and a $20 in free cash to get started with them) at the excellent NetBet.com Poker.
Lottery Sit and Go Strategy – General Overview
You’ll see a stage by stage strategy below. First some general thoughts. These games are super-turbo speed, so you’ll need to find and exploit your advantages quickly in each game. As with all poker formats, the key is to assess your opponents and to adjust to how they are playing. You are looking for small edges which you can take again and again. The fast games will then allow you to generate a small profit each time – making a good hourly rate. Of course, you might get lucky and hit a 1000 buy-in+ prize early on!
Here are my general tips:
#1 – Take Notes: Take notes on all of your opponents. Key here is to identify the regulars (and how they are approaching the games) and get an idea of who is playing ‘crazy’, or tight and / or passive poker. A note about what someone showed up with after a big reraise pre-flop can be very valuable, if only to understand who is capable of running a big all-in bluff and who is not.
#2 – Pot Commitment: You start with 25 big blinds or so in most of these games, and will be playing 10 to 15 big blind stacks for much of the game. This means that pot-odds come into play, if your raise commits you to calling a reraise (typically if you are getting 2/1+) then you might want to consider going all-in yourself instead. It can also pay to understand which of your opponents understands points in the game when they are committed to a pot by the odds, and which do not. I have seen people fold getting 2.5/1+ blind vs blind – this is a big mistake that will cost you over time.
#3 – Focus: Your biggest edge will come from assigning ranges of hands to opponents, and from exploiting patterns. For example, does someone min-raise the button every time? Do they raise one amount with a strong hand and another amount with a draw / weak hand? If you are playing without your full attention, then you are giving up this edge… it is hard to profit over time without it.
#4 – Scared Money: Mostly this does not come into play, though if you find yourself playing for a $500 prize pool instead of $10, then some opponents will certainly react. If you find someone who becomes tight / passive when the stakes go up then you can keep taking pots from them very easily, as long as you keep in mind that they probably have it when they get aggressive!
Stage-by-Stage Lottery SNG Strategy
This is the time when you need to make quick judgements on the types of opponent you are facing. Notes really help with figuring regulars (if you find yourself playing against the same grinders again and again, take a break and come back later – there are more profitable opponents than these).
With 3 handed games and 25 or so big blinds, your scope for post-flop play is limited. General advice includes playing from the button where possible. Playing last after the flop is a big advantage. There may be some scope for set mining and speculative hands, though in general prefer to reraise rather than call in these games.
Limping is not recommended, and if you have opponents that limp a lot (some players limp or complete with every hand) then you can take advantage of this by opening up your re-raising range.
Sometimes in the early stages you will come across opponents who go all-in on every hand, or others who insist on 3x raises pre-flop and pot sized bets afterwards.
I like to see 3 all-ins in a row before being certain, and will then take any top 10% to 12% hand and make a stand with it. If you wait around for the nuts, then your stack will be quickly decimated to the point where you need yet another big pot to stay ahead.
Opponents that raise 3x have not adjusted to the format. As the blinds go up they are way over betting the pot. I love to make notes on opponents who are capable of folding to a reraise here. If you go get a 3x+ raiser and have a premium hand, then a smaller reraise can build the pot to the point where they find it impossible to fold to a small bet after the flop – essentially committing them for their stack.
This is where the patterns come into their own. You’ll sometimes be hitting the 50 chip + big blinds with one opponent and sometimes 2 – so relative stack sizes come into play too.
As I mentioned in the general thoughts, you have to understand pot odds at this stage of the game. If you are getting 2-to-1 on a call (for example a small stack goes all-in with antes in play) then you only need to win 33% of showdowns to break even. With a desperate small stack, you can easily be 50 / 50 or even ahead – making a fold a big error.
If you get desperate yourself, then make sure you shove first – there is always the chance your opponents fold that way. If you call a raise, then you definitely need to win a showdown to survive.
Back to patterns
One big leak I see even from regular players is to establish reliable patterns in their betting. The most common one (especially heads up) is to min-raise the button. This is a sound strategy, though if it is done with an 80%+ range of hands, it becomes easily exploitable. If someone is raising all their hands on the button / small blind, and only calling your 10 to 12 BB shove with 15% or so, then they are folding the huge majority of the time pre-flop. You can’t reraise every time of course, as this becomes exploitable in itself – though depending on your opponent this can be a great opportunity to chip up.
Another pattern I look out for is opponents that continuation bet after limping, and especially those who do this less often (or try for a check-raise) when they are strong. If a player bets every flop, then you can profitably shove over these bets with a reasonable range.
Finally, for the middle stages, you should mix things up a little to avoid falling into predictable patterns yourself. If every check is followed by a fold, and every continuation bet means you have a hand then observant opponents will quickly exploit you.
The Late Stages
Here I am referring to the point where you have 10 big blind and under effective stacks (the smallest stack is < 10 BBs). There is no room for manoeuvre post flop, though you might occasionally see a flop if your opponent completes the small blind.
There is one word for your strategy here – aggressive.
Hesitating or waiting for a hand at this stage is suicidal.
How wide you shove and call will depend on what you think your opponent is capable of shoving and calling with. Keep in mind that regulars will be shoving very wide, and calling with a narrow range here – while inexperienced opponents will generally shove a smaller range, and be more likely to call you (especially if you shove into them repeatedly).
It can pay to ask yourself what your opponent thinks about your play at this point!
If you want to get further into this strategy, then I recommend you check my article outlining the SAGE system for heads-up play. For a more general education think about a he-knows-she-knows strategy. For example, if a smart opponent knows you are shoving with 70% of hands with 8BBs, then they can call with 22%, only if you know they are calling with 22% you can profitably adjust your shoving range to YY% - and so on. This is known as the Nash equilibrium… if it seems to math oriented then you can leave it to the experts and simply stick to the restealing, raising and generally aggressive approach to the end game that will prevail against the average opponents in lottery sit and go tournaments.
Lottery SNG Strategy - Summing It Up
Use the early stages to find patterns in your opponents play and categorise them (regulars, fish and so on). Use the middle stages to resteal, keeping in mind that short stacks mean it is easy to get committed to pots. In the later stages up the aggression, and take chances to exploit your opponents when they fall into patterns like raising every single button.
If you stick to the softest tables (I strongly recommend you check out the ’Twister’ iPoker games) then Lottery Sit N Goes can be an enjoyable way to build a bankroll. If you do get lucky and win a 1000+ buy-in game with this strategy primer, then please write to let me know.
Check out the super-soft games at NetBet on the iPoker Network, you’ll get $20 in extra cash to enjoy the games. Visit www.netbet.com for more!
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