‘Standard' SNG Strategy Will Not Work In A Sit n Go Satellite Qualifier.
Here I Cover The Key Strategy Adjustments You Need.
Most online poker sites offer Sit N Go Satellites, often awarding seats in their large buy-in tournaments. These have a range of buy-in prices and often have just a single paid place. This article covers a profitable approach to SNG Satellites and in particular looks at your strategy should from a standard SNG.
The first thing to note is a small paradox. Your opposition in these events are less likely to understand ‘good’ Sit N Go strategy… the paradox is that this may actually benefit them when playing against a SNG specialist who has not accounted for their inexperience!
Let me explain, while sound sit and go strategy involves staying tight early to maintain your Fold Equity for the SNG bubble, single table satellite structure actually means you are in far more danger if you get ‘left behind’ chip-wise for the late game.
Pushing all-in late in a normal SNG relies on the fact that prize pool equity is bigger than chip equity – you need a far better hand to call an all-in with than to go all-in yourself. In a Sit N Go Satellite paying one place chip equity is equal to dollar (prize) equity. This means that as long as you feel you have an 'edge' against your opponents pushing all-in range then a call is correct. This in turn means that your opponents seemingly ‘bad’ calls are often correct, mathematically speaking in a satellite, while that same call would be incorrect in a 50% / 30% / 20% split game.
Having said that the gap concept (needing a better hand to call a raise than to open raise with) still holds true. The key to profiting from single table satellites is to assess your opponents and work out how well they understand the dynamics of the game - and also who shows no fear and who fears busting out early.
Planet Mark's Rec: Before I get to a stage-by-stage approach, a quick note about how widely satellite qualifiers differ (in terms of how difficult they are to beat) across different site. My favorite place for these games is Titan Poker, who have an established 3-stage system for winning tickets to both live and online events. With plenty of new players in the games crossing over from the big sports-betting brands on the same network, you will not find anywhere easier to qualify for those big games!
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Profitable Strategy Adjustments For SNG Satellites - Stage-By-Stage
Satellite SNG Strategy - The Early Levels
Suited connectors, small pairs and suited aces become more playable than in a normal SNG… since your need to accumulate chips becomes more important than maintaining Fold Equity.
Implied odds are higher due to the fact that, on average, your opponents will be less skilled than in the equivalent SNG - you are therefore more likely to be 'paid-off' when you hit a hand. Use the early levels to watch opponents closely, who overplays ace-rag? Who will go to showdown with weak holdings and who will fold after making a raise?
I also play premium hands more aggressively in satellites than in normal SNGs. Since unaware opponents are less likely to be concerned with their own chip perservation you will get called more often. At the same time as 'value betting' goes up in value, bluffing is less profitable. You can continuation bet, and even fire again on a scare card - however novice opponents are not the right players to choose to push off a hand with that big all-in on the river... they just do not fold often enough!
Satellite SNG Strategy - The Middle Levels:
Start raising and re-raising weak players here (those who have shown that they are able to fold). You need to maintain the chip accumulating strategy.
Having said that make sure you do not pot-commit yourself against weak players by raising too big a portion of your stack without a solid hand. Remember if you raise and are re-raised all-in by a short stack you may be getting odds between 2-1 and 3-1 to make the call, against a desperate all-in range you will usually have those odds with any legitimate raising hand - even if you would have preferred not to be in this situation. When you have the odds you need to call, however these situations can often be avoided with some good forward planning.
Open pushing can be effective with stacks of less than 12 Big Blinds – be aware of opponents stack sizes here (very small or very large stacks in particular will call 'lighter'). Use the reads gained from the early game – people who over-play ace-rag are more likely to call your all-in with a similar hand!!
Satellite SNG Strategy - The Late Game / Bubble:
I already mentioned that chip equity and prize pool equity are equal when only one place is paid. This simplifies the calculations for profitable all-in pushes in the late game. Give your opponent a calling range (for example 20%), count the blinds and chances of wnning if called (including chips from the blinds and antes) then push if you have a profitable spot! It can pay to work out some basic situations when you are between games, against better players having a solid push-fold game is a must and against inexperienced players knowing how your hand does against their 'crazy' ranges will give you a profitable edge.
For example you have KQ and an opponent who will call with the top 20% of hands (your estimate based on his previously loose play), the blinds total 600. If you push then you win 600 chips 80% of the time and have 50% against your opponents calling range the rest of the time. The numbers for 100 attempts assuming 3000 chip stacks after posting blinds look like this.
80 Times you win 600 chips = 48000
10 Times you win 3600 chips = 36000
10 Times you lose 3000 chips. = (30000)
(48000+36000-30000)/100 = 5400 chips
You have a large positive expectation against this opponent. Remember that calling ranges are lighter in a SNG Satellite. If we were dealing with a standard SNG bubble your opponent would need 70% winning chances against your push all-in range to call – here he only needs to be slightly ahead to make the call profitable.
Recommended Sites For 1-Table Satellites - For US and Worldwide Players
Most Poker Rooms offer Single Table SNG Satellites, I am recommending Carbon Poker for US players (as the largest site they have more opportunities than any other US-friendly operator) while it is the soft games and awesome 3-tier system at Titan Poker which is my top pick for players outside of the US.
My Top US Pick!
Carbon Poker are the single largest site on the Merge Poker Network - who are still the single largest US site as we go into 2013 - their new cashier system making deposits easier than ever. You will find 1-table qualifiers to both online and live events at Carbon, including their popular Sunday $125k guaranteed satellites. You can claim an huge bonus at this site, a 200% match (max $5k!!) + cool free poker calculator / HUD. Use Carbon Poker coupon code CARBONPK to claim. This is a great site and an easy top pick for US readers - Click Here To Check Out Carbon Poker For Yourself Now!
Super-Easy Games For Worldwide Readers!
Titan Poker – With a well deserved reputation for some of the weakest opposition on the net Titan have a good range of Satellites into their larger nightly MTTs and into special events (EPT and WSOP qualifiers for example). If you have not checked out Titan yet then you really need to see those tables for yourself! Bonus Code SNGPLANET will get you the full 200% up to $2k matched Bonus plus $20 in free cash (paid directly to your account within 48 hours). Check out Titan Poker for yourself now - you will not believe those fishy tables until you see them with your own eyes!!