Bubbling Sit N Goes Too Often? This Guide Will Help You Discover Why You Keep Finishing In 4th Place.
By Nick 'The Cloud' Cantwell
So it’s bubble time again, you’re in the small blind, and it’s folded to you. The blinds are 100/200, and it’s an easy decision to shove your short stack of 1200 chips with A9 off and you are insta-called by the large stack big blind. The big blind shows a pair of 5’s, and you fail to hit – and you’ve finished 4th again. Sound familiar?
This happens to us all, but if it is happening on a regular basis, then you need to find some ways to improve.
I’ll cover several different possibilities here, starting with chip accumulation in the middle-stages. Next play from the blinds at the bubble is covered, then some pointers for upping your general aggression level in bubble play. Finally, a look at a common beginners mistake – calling with the ‘best hand’ at the bubble, when in fact this is a losing move over time.
Finishing 4th In Sit N Goes – Focus On Mid-Stage Chip Accumulation
As we all know, tight is right in the early stages of sit’n’gos, so the first area I want to concentrate on is the mid stages. This is where you want to start changing gears, don’t go from first gear to fifth, moving into second or third gear is optimal.
There will be many occasions that you go into the mid-stages of a sit’n’go with a slightly smaller stack than you started with. At this stage, you want to be stealing a little more. Two tight players in the blinds? Steal with that J9 off on the button, or J10 in the cutoff. This will work well, because firstly, if they are tight they will fold a wide range here anyway, secondly, if you have been tight so far (which you should have been) you will gain a lot of credit for your raise. Don’t go too far the other way, and raise too often, but if you are a habitual 4th place finisher, maybe pick one or two more spots to raise in the mid-stages, where you might previously have folded. If you are finding yourself approaching the later stages of sit’n’go’s as one of the short stacks, this should give you a few more precious chips to play with.
Planet Mark's Rec: Mathematically solid bubble play is no longer an option. If you want to make money from SNGs, you need to know your all-in / fold / calling ranges. Fortunately, most opponents do not study this area - so you have the opportunity to get a profitable edge. I strongly recommend you check out ICMIZER 2, which takes hand histories and shows you the optimal plays. It has already transformed the profitability of 100's of readers! See www.icmpoker.com and check it out for yourself!
Finishing 4th In Sit N Goes – Blind vs Blind Play At The Bubble
The second area I want to look at is blind versus blind play. A habitual mistake I see many players play is limping in the small blind. Take the initiative and raise if you’re gonna play, and if you or the villain have less than ten big blinds, if you decide to play, go all-in.
This also works the other way - if you are in the big blind, and the small blind limps into you, if you have any kind of hand, don’t let them get away with it – raise it up. You’ll be surprised how many times either the small blind insta-folds, or check folds the flop. Free chips are always good!
Finishing 4th In Sit N Goes – Are You Being Aggressive Enough?
The third area I want to focus on is around the bubble. This where you really should move into fifth gear. Most of the time on the bubble, if you play a hand, either you or the villain/s have less than ten big blinds, so you want to shove. Independent Chip Modelling (ICM) comes into play here (if you haven’t heard of it, check out this article! It will be one of the most useful tools you will learn as a sit’n’go player).
There will be occasions when, depending on stack sizes, the right thing to do is to shove any two cards. Once you have an understanding of ICM, you will be profitably shoving a far wider range than before, but in all the right spots.
One or two steals more at the bubble may propel you from being habitually the small stack, to the player who is to be avoided, and will see your win-rate go up, and your 4th place finishes go down. Sure it will backfire sometimes, but you’ll notice the difference in the long run.
Finishing 4th In Sit N Goes – Are You Calling Too Wide?
The last area I want to look at is calling on the bubble for all your chips. This is an area that I will freely admit cost me many dollars in the past. I’ll give you a classic example.
You are in the big blind with AQo, you have the second largest stack, in the cutoff is the short stack with just 300 chips, and they have already folded. The large stack shoves from the button, the small blind folds – you are way ahead of the large stack’s range here… Insta call right?? If I call and win, I’m chip leader. Happy days???!!! NO!! Fold!!!
In this scenario, by folding here, you are pretty much guaranteed finishing in the money. By calling here, whatever the button has, you are giving yourself a very big shot at finishing 4th – why risk it? Grudgingly fold, make the cash and beat up the big stack later. (In this kind of scenario there are occasions when I would go as far as saying that the only hands you can call with are AA or KK).
That is not to say you shouldn’t be calling at all on the bubble – if you are not risking all or a large proportion of your stack, or if you find yourself as the short stack, then there are times you should call with a decent hand – but don’t risk a likely cash with an unnecessary call.
If you put all this together, you’ll find that you bubble less, win more and suffer a whole lot less frustration!
Bonus Tip From Planet Mark – Are You Playing To Many Sit N Go Experts?
Just a quick note for beginners that there are a lot of small stakes pros at certain sites, who play Sit n Goes all day to make a living. These players know the bubble math backwards – and you’ll have trouble making money from them. Instead choose sites with more beginner / recreational players. My Fish-o-Meter Widget will help you find the best site for your bankroll and game preferences – check it out now!