PokerStars 180 Player SNGs Part #2 – 180 Strategy

Strategy Tips for PokerStars 180 Sit N Go Tournaments Split
Between The Various Blind Levels / Stages.

The first article in this series covered the facts and figures for the Stars 180s. Here we will look at the Strategy for 2.50/180s 8/180s and 15/180s on PokerStars.com

Each blind level will be discussed separately with a note on the average stack for the number of players left at each stage – there are 180 * 1500 = 270,000 chips in play. This means that the average stack at the final table is going to be 30,000 chips – this article will walk you through the stages of getting from 1500 to around 30,000, the final part of this series will look at the 180 SNG Final Table.

One quick note: A couple of years ago the payouts changed, with 27 players receiving prizes instead of 18, this obviously brings the bubble forward a little - with the 4th last table needing to break to get to the paying places. The overall strategy insights still work great though - make sure you play attacking, positive poker and you can make a big profit grinding these games!

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While the standard of play varies between the $2.50/180s and $15/180 we are going to assume that you are comfortable against which ever opposition you choose. The errors that opponents make are broadly similar for each of the three buy-in levels - though of course more prevalent and obvious at the lowest buy-ins... where you will face more multi-way pots and a lower frequency of 'moves' on average.

180 Sit And Go Strategy - The Starting Levels – BB20 Ante 3 and BB30 Ante 4

180 Player Sit N Go StrategyThe first half an hour will see you faced with a wide variety of opponents. This is your opportunity to gain chips from the weaker players at the same time as assessing the stronger opponents weaknesses for use later in the game. I recommend you take a few minutes to search for and note the regulars (particularly the winning ones!) at this point. If you do not have the time or inclination to look them up individually then a software tool such as the awesome Pro Poker Labs Tournament Shark will help - this attaches to the bottom of each table and gives you win / loss and other great stats on each player (find out more in new tab by clicking here).

You start with 75 Big Blinds at level 1 and thus have the implied odds to profitably play hands such as suited connectors, suited aces and small pairs. Enough of your opponents will be willing to go broke with ace-rag when the flop comes ace high to make these hands very profitable indeed. There is not much to steal and many multi-way pots, which will devalue those unpaired high card hands somewhat.

As you approach the end of level 2 you will have noted many of the other players styles. Use this information to relieve overly tight players of their blinds and to re-raise those who are raising light and too often. If you feel you have an edge in the early stages then take it, a big pot can give you the freedom to fight for more pots later which you would not otherwise have had. As long as you are using bankroll management then any +ev edge is a good one - there is always another 180 about to start.

After 10 minutes we can expect around 20 players to have been eliminated – this means that the average stack will be 1636 chips.

180 Sit And Go Strategy - Levels 3 and 4 – BB50 Ante 6 and BB100 Ante 10

The blinds increase to 50 and then 100. Pre-flop raises are now a larger proportion of your stack and a continuation bet may even comit you to the pot in some situations. Many of the players who started tight and who have seen their stacks shrink to 1200 or less will now start to worry – and may open up their range as a result.

At this stage you should start to notice the stack sizes of your opponents more closely. In particular those players who are to your left (and so act after you do). For example if you raise and a small stack to your left pushes all-in you may be committed to the hand – that is the pot odds you are getting make calling with any raising hand profitable.

This makes speculative hands like suited connectors and small pairs less profitable when the pot is raised. Your implied odds have gone down. Remember there are a lot of bad players around at this stage, limping, cold calling bets with easily dominated hands and so on. Watch for those who are still raising light and re-steal from them when the opportunity arises - and use late position to 'squeeze multiple limpers' when the opportunity arises by putting in a big raise.

By the end of level 4, 20 minutes into the game we can expect around 50 players to have been eliminated – this means that the average stack will be 2000 chips.

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180 Sit And Go Strategy - Levels 5, 6 and 7 – BB150 Ante 15 and BB200 Ante 20 and BB250 Ante 25

At this point in the 180 SNG there will be a decided shift between post-flop play and pre-flop play. While you can still raise, it is less likely that there will be chips left after a flop bet unless both people in the hand have above average stacks! The turbo 180s are fast an furious, you only need to fold for a couple of orbits to remove yourself from contention.

A key strategy component of playing at these levels is the ability to put your opponents onto ranges and assess the chances of your own holdings against those ranges... To become a consistent winner in these games you need to do a little homework!

It now becomes more important to be the aggressor in a hand and not the caller. This is because the blinds now contribute valuable chips to your stack – stealing them outright is a decent result in any hand. As the stacks are shallow compared to the blinds calling on the flop is less attractive because it will cost you too many chips to get an accurate read on your opponents hand after the flop in comparison to your stack.

By this stage you should have a pretty accurate assessment of the style of each of your opponents (though multiple table moves can affect this). Here is the time to start using that information to outplay people. The addition of the Ante at level 7 makes stealing pots pre-flop even more valuable with each pot being 525 chips. Make sure you get more than your fair share of these without making it too obvious to your opponents that you are stealing light.

By the end of level 7 we can expect the field to be down to 90 players, the average stack will now be 3000.

180 Player SNG Strategy
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180 Sit And Go Strategy - Level 8, 9 and 10 – BB300 Ante 25 and BB400 Ante 50 and BB600 Ante 50

Short stack ninja time! At this point in the tournament the average stacks will be between 10 and 12 Big Blinds (of course there will be some large and some small stacks too). This means that there will very rarely be any significant post-flop play.

You need to assess the stack sizes of your opponents before making any play at this level. Re-stealing might be possible when two large stacks are involved in a hand but any short stack raiser may not be willing to fold after committing chips.

Remember to look at the effective stacks when making a decision. For example if you have 12 Big Blinds on the button but the 2 players in the blinds only have 7 big blinds each then your 'effective' shove is for 7 big-blinds only. Stealing blinds is a must at these levels so make sure that you are aware of potential calling ranges of your opponents and adjust accordingly. While you are ideally looking for spots where you are first to enter a pot from later position, sometimes raises ahead deny you this opportunity. You'll often need to be brave in these games - take your chance of a double (or steal) early enough that you get those chips when you have the opportunity to use them to accumulate yet more... when playing these games you will see how fast timid / tight players get left behind!

Towards the end of level 9 we can expect the bubble to be fast approaching. You opponents will each react to this differently, with stack size again being a key factor. Try and work out which of the medium to small stacks has decided to play for the money and steal from them. If you see a big stack using the approaching bubble to steal chips easily then re-assess his range for re-stealing purposes – remembering to ensure that there is some room to fold involved.

We can now expect around 3 tables left – so for 27 players the average stack will now be 10,000 chips.

180 Sit And Go Strategy - Levels 11 and 12BB800 Ante 75 and BB1000 Ante 100

There are a couple of significant factors to note at these levels. Firstly the quality of the opposition will have increased – the loose’n’lucky and weak-tight opponents will generally be gone and the better players will be left in the game. They might not be big winners (especially in the lower end of the buy-ins) however they will tend to be the aggressors, and are more likely to be position aware.

The second factor is that in the run up to the bubble the tables will become short-handed. This means that you are going to need to adjust your pre-flop requirements to compensate for the lower number of opponents.

The dynamic of people playing to make the money vs those playing for the win comes into play even more strongly now. When faced with a close decision then your equity risk vs reward can be accounted for. Think of it this way, if you play 2 identical games and have a 55/45 edge at 2 bubbles… if you decline this edge to survive you make the money each time but miss the final table – for a 8/180 this would be +$31. However taking your edge means you get nothing once but reach the final table once for an average win of $150… turning down an edge has actually cost you $119 in our simplified example – don’t do it!!

By the end of these levels the bubble should have burst – there are now 15 players left on 2 tables with an average stack of 18000 chips.

180 Sit And Go Strategy - Levels 13 and 14BB1200 Ante 125 and BB1600 ante 150

The stacks are still short and you have made the money – now is our opportunity to make that push for the final table and a big score! The first thing to notice is that those players who adjusted by (incorrectly) tightening up to make the money are the ones to watch here. This type of player will often be looking to ‘take a gamble’ as soon as the money bubble bursts to give themselves a chance of final tabling. When you see an open-shove from such as opponent you can assess their range as far wider than average for the situation and adjust your own calling range accordingly.

The final table often acts as a second bubble here so ensure that you are aware of any changes in opponents behavior once you get down to 10 or 11 players. Again awareness that the payouts increase dramatically should lead you to play positively and aggressively. Stealing, re-stealing and moves such as the stop and go all have their place here.

Success – You reached the PokerStars 180 SNG Final Table! Part #3 of this series will look at your 180 SNG Final Table strategy.

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