Party Poker Steps SNGs – A Guide to Steps Strategy – Part #2

Continues Looking At Party Poker Steps Sit N Go Strategy, Early Game
Up To Bubble Strategy And ICM Included – Read On.

This is Part #2 of the series of articles looking at Party Poker Steps Sit N go Tournament Strategy. In Party Poker Steps Part# 1 we introduced the subject and some of the important questions concerning winning those steps SNG tournaments. Here we will take a look at the first 3 steps (levels) covering early game and bubble strategy (including prize pool equity / ICM considerations).

We will start from the very beginning… you have just sat down in a step-1 sit and go tournament – what are the first things we need to consider?

Let us first discuss the potential skill levels of the opposition. To be honest, the average Party Poker Step SNG player at the lowest levels will not have the slightest clue about SNG strategy, let alone have considered any of the strategy adjustments required for the unique payout structure. The kind of players we will see will think A6 off is a premium hand and will call their entire stack on a 4-out draw... in a word we are entering a minefield!

Strategically speaking seeing cheap flops is fine in the early stages, the ‘implied odds’ for hitting a flop hard are bigger than usual. Cut down considerably on bluffs but value bet top pair type hands more often. You can also make larger than normal raises with premium pairs (since they will be called) but slow down a little with high card hands such as AK... if you hit the flop then go into ‘raising’ mode if you miss and you have several opponents it is usually better to fold and wait for a better opportunity.

So what about the equity model (ICM)* math for step 1? With 4 places paid and on the bubble the prize pool equity looks like this with even stacks (total prizes = $26, 2 * $10 and 2 * $3)

*Note ** I f you are not yet familiar with the Independant Chip Model (ICM) check out our introduction to ICM article here. Then come back once you have the basics.

Player 1 - 4000 - $5.20

Player 2 - 4000 - $5.20

Player 3 - 4000 - $5.20

Player 4 - 4000 - $5.20

Player 5 - 4000 - $5.20

By looking at an all-in involving 2 players situation we can work out the equity risk against potential reward

Player 1 - 0 (lost!) -

Player 2 - 8000 - $7.85

Others - 4000 each - $6.05

To call and all-in on the bubble you risk $5.20 (your current equity) to win an extra $3.65 - the odds you lay against yourself are 1.42 to 1 - in other works you need 70% winning chances against your opponents pushing range to make this call have a positive expectation over time.

Poker math and theory suggest you can now work out your all-in pushing range based on what an aware opponent would be willing to call with... but wait....! We are not talking about aware opponents in the early levels of Party Steps SNGs! We are working with ‘zero-level’ thinkers who are looking only at their own cards and deciding how pretty they look!

An example of your average opponents calling range could include most Aces, All Pairs and any-2 face cards, there is a good chance that it includes lone kings and queens too as long as they are suited. You are likely to be called by at least 15% of all hands per opponent for the first push and 20% to 30% of hands if you push several times in a row. Let us work backwards and calculate what you can now shove with (assuming just 1 opponent) for push number 2 and onwards.

  • 70% of the time you win the blinds (600 chips for our example). And add 40c to your equity.
  • 30% of the time you are called and are risking $5.20 to win an extra $3.65, you are called by 30% of all hands here of course - however you do not need to win 70% (as we already counted the blind money). You need to win almost half the time you are called to make this a positive expectation move... that is winning 15 of the 30 showdowns + the blind money 70% of the time will give you a slightly positive expectation.

If we use an ICM calculator and compare the 2 hand ranges we find you can profitably go all-in with 30% of hands. But should you do this?


Here is why.... your opponents do not understand bubble play, there is a good  chance that they will bust each other, giving you a free ride into one of the paying slots.

You can factor this into pushing range before risking your chips. Should 2 other opponents go all-in you gain 85c in prize pool equity whoever wins! if there is a 30% chance (for example) of this happening on any given round by doing nothing then take this into account.

You do this by cutting down your own pushing range so that when you do risk your chips you have a nice ‘overlay’. Ranges like 15% to 20% of hands work against one opponent narrowing significantly for more than one (10% for 2 opponents each with wide calling ranges).

Steps Part #3 - Expected Value in this series will look at whether an experienced SNG player has a positive expectation from buying into the Party Steps SNG tournaments half way up. If you have not seen with your own eyes how profitable Party Poker Steps can be we recommend you check today - these games can give a huge boost to any thinking player's poker bankroll.... bonus code SNGPLANET for your 100% match bonus up to $500 when you visit Party Poker now!

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Further Reading For Steps SNGs Fans:

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