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Sit And Go Tournament Strategy – Understanding Cev and $ev

Understanding The Difference Between Cev and $ev Will Give
Your Sit And Go Tournament Strategy A Real Boost.

You are in an online poker sit n go tournaments is that there are 4 people left with 3 getting paid - the stacks are more or less even and the big blind is now more than 10% of your chips. Most hands see one player go all-in and the other fold. Feel lost? Which hands should you push all-in with? Which hands are strong enough to call with? The key to good sit n go bubble play is simple - and it boils down to understanding the differences between two ways of expressing your 'equity' in a SNG prize pool - known as $ev and Cev.

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Cev stands for 'Chip Expected Value' it shows your expectation (profit or loss for each play) based on the number of tournament chips won or lost.

$ev stands for 'Dollar Expected Value', this shows your expectation (again profit / loss) based on your current prize pool equity. That is the amount in dollars that your chip stack is currently worth based on your average chance of finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or in the non-paying spot of 4th.

The most common error you will see at the bubble of a sit n go tournament is to see people make decisions based on their chip stack (Cev) and not their prize pool equity ($ev) - an example will make this clear:

Using Dollar Expected Value - An Example

4 players remain in a $10 Sit n Go, everyone has an equal stack of 2500 chips and the big blind is now up to 400. The hand is folded to the player in the small blind who pushes all-in, you have A-5 off-suit and must make a decision on whether to call this bet.

You expect that your opponent would push all-in with many hands here, any ace, any king, a queen with a kicker of 8 or higher and Jack-9+. That is a wide range - most of which your Ace-5 is beating. The math shows that, on average, you will win more chips than you would lose by calling this bet.

Yet this would be a big error.

To understand why we need to look at the alternative view - $ev. The prize pool of most sit n go tournaments is divided as 50% to 1st place, 30% to 2nd and 20% to 3rd. If everyone has equal stacks before the hand and the prize pool is $100 then you have $25 in $ev.


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$ev and chip ev SNG Play

Bubble Strategy Involves Switching Your Thinking To 'Equity'.

In order to make a 'good' bubble strategy decision we need to ignore the gain / loss in chips and instead look at the $ev balance. If you call this bet and lose your $ev will be zero - you are out in 4th. However, If you call and win your $ev does not double!

This is the key point. Your $ev will certainly rise, but the nature of poker means that you are in no way guaranteed 1st place. In fact a run of bad cards could easily see you out in 3rd!! Mathematical models show that winning this hand would give you a $ev of around $37 with each of your opponents not in the hand increasing their own $ev to $31.50c.

So let us look at the hand once more - you expect to win 60% of the time when you call the all-in bet. Yet you are risking $25 in $ev to win $12 more. Since your potential loss twice your potential gain you need to have more than 66% winning chances to make this a positive expectation play.

The mathematical model referred to is known as the 'Independent Chip Model' or ICM, it can dramatically improve your Sit n Go Play.... read our ‘Introduction to ICM’ here.

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Further Reading For Players Looking To Improve Their SNG Play

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