Party Poker Steps Sit N Go Strategy – Part #4

How To Adjust Your Sit N Go Strategy For Party Poker Step 6 Tournaments.

Reaching step 6 can be an exhilarating, yet slightly daunting experience. This will often be the biggest single buy-in played, with some serious cash up for grabs. This article will prepare you for Step 6 by introducing some changes in strategy brought about by ICM and dollar-equity models. While this is based on the Party Poker Steps, the logic and thought processes can be easily adapted to Steps Sit N Go Tournaments at other sites with novel payout structures including PokerStars and Poker-Room. Before we start, here are links to the other articles in our Party-Specific Steps series:

  1. Party Steps #1 – Steps Strategy Guide – Overview
  2. Party Steps #2 – Steps Strategy Guide – Adjustments in SNG Strategy
  3. Party Steps #3 – Steps Strategy Guide – Buying Into The Later Stages

Here we look in detail at the bubble of Step 6, and ask what adjustments to make compared with a standard Sit N Go in terms of both ICM and adapting to your opponents.

The first thing to analyze is the different prize pool structure. Of the 10 players who start 5 will get paid in the following format.

  • 1st - $2000 (42%)
  • 2nd - $1000 (22%)
  • 3rd - $700 (14%)
  • 4th - $500 (11%)
  • 5th - $500 (11%)

It should be clear already that this is vastly different from a standard Sit N Go, the bubble will start with 6 players and opponents will usually be tightening up before this. The following analysis will focus on ‘prize pool equity’ decision making – for those not familiar with this our Introduction To ICM article (and others in that series) will point you in the right direction.

At the 6-player bubble with equal stacks, each persons prize pool equity ($ equity) is as follows: Your 3333 chips are worth $783 (all else being equal).

This means that in an all-in confrontation at the bubble of a step 6 tournament you are risking $738 (since 6th gets nothing). Next we need to work out what your gain would look like. Here is how the prize pool distribution would look with you having doubled up and one opponent being eliminated.

You: 6666 Chips - $equity = $1169

Opponents 1 to 4 – 3333 Chips - $equity = $882.6

Two points here which should not surprise those familiar with ICM. Your $equity has not doubled, and the equity of the players not in the hand have increased – after all, they are now guaranteed the $500 payout and have a shot at the higher paying places.

Your own equity has increased from $783 to $1169, an improvement of $386. This means that during the all-in confrontation you risked $783 to win $386 more. In effect your reward is less than half of your risk – you are laying odds against yourself of a little over 2/1.

The question is how should this affect your play?

Mathematically speaking you can consider calling an all-in bet from an opponent on the bubble of a step 6 tournament only when you believe your hand is better than a 2/1 favorite against your opponent’s range. You are not going to have a hand strong enough very often – even against the loosest opponents.

Conversely, your opponents should not be able to call you without also being a 2/1 favorite. Be careful here, if an opponent makes a ‘bad call’ because they do not understand the details of $ev and how this affects decision making then you only have yourself to blame.

The way to approach this is by first defining your opponent’s calling range, then assessing the likelihood of them holding a hand that can call – and then finally comparing the chances of your own hand in a showdown. This sounds complex but is actually second nature to experienced Sit N Go players, an example will illustrate (assuming you are considering a push from the small blind to keep things simple):

  • You feel that your opponent will call with the top 10% of hands.
  • Thus 90% of the time you win the blinds
  • 10% of the time you are called and expect to win 35% of the time (based on a comparison of your hand against the top 10% in an odds calculator)

This may sound like hard work! Fortunately there are tools that will do this for you (check our review of SNG Wiz for more on this). The basic message is simple enough, do not assume your opponents in a step #6 will call you ‘correctly’, instead make an estimate of their calling range and work backwards from there, remembering that you need to win twice as often as you lose to make a situation +$ev.

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