Pokerstars 180 Player SNGs Part #3 – The Final Table

The Final Table Of The PokerStars 180 Player Sit N Goes Is Where The Big Money Starts.
Read My Strategy Guide Here.

This is the 3rd in my180 Person Sit and Goes series, 180 Player SNG Tournaments looked at Background, Facts and Figures and 180 SNG Strategy covered Level-By-Level Strategy. Here I turn to the final table – you are already well into the money, time to maximize that profit!

Let us first take a step backwards – to the final 3 tables. Watching the last tables will often give you valuable information to use when you reach the last nine. There are many things to look out for, bet sizes of your opponents are especially significant - watch for the standard bets of opponents and – importantly – make a note where possible of their holdings for bet sizes higher and lower than normal.

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Before we move on here is the payout structure again – this is for the $8/180s and can be adjusted as required for the $2.50c/180s and $15/180s:

  • 1st: $396.49c
  • 2nd: $264.24
  • 3rd: $150.61
  • 4th: $97.76
  • 5th: $76.62
  • 6th: $56.81
  • 7th: $39.63
  • 8th: $29.06
  • 9th: $19.81
  • 10th to 18th: $12.55
  • 19th to 27th: $8.58

As with many tournaments this is heavily weighted towards the top few places. In fact 1st place is offering a cool 18 times the prize of 9th. Think about the lower places for a moment – focusing on the gaps between the prizes, 8th gets us an additional $11, 7th adds $12… it should be clear that the opportunity to get to those top 3 places is what we are after, and that we would gladly swap a few small cashes for the chance to do just that. In other words, our objective is to play to win, not to move up the payout ladder.

We will have a look at the prize pool equity of the chip stacks in terms of ICM shortly. First though a few factors to look out for when the final table first begins:

  1. Stack Sizes. Not only the absolute stack sizes but the position of different stacks in relation to you and to each other. Where are the big and the small stacks? Do the players to your left have stack sizes which prevent them calling blind-steals without great hands? Is there a micro-stack which might lead to the smaller stacks waiting for that player to bust?
  2. Player Tendencies. Hopefully watching the last few tables has given you a good idea of who is passive or aggressive and how many hands opponents are playing. Other factors here include working out who is playing to move up the ladder and who is trying to win. Look out for those players who are capable of laying down a hand after raising and who will usually call.
  3. Past Results. Tools such as the awesome Tournament Shark will pay for themselves very quickly, and will bring you extra profits for a long time to come. Knowing who the big winners, the break-even 'regulars' and the 'fish' are at your table will allow you to tailor your plays to these different types of opponent.


180 Sit And Go Final Table Strategy - Basic Prize Pool Equity Math

Next we look at the dollar equity of your chips using ICM, for those not familiar with the Independent Chip Model you can find plenty of background information in out SNG Strategy Articles List. The following section assumes a basic understanding of this math.

In the imaginary scenario that we hit the final table with 9 players having equal stacks of 30,000 chips the dollar value of each stack will equal $130.62 (1175.55c total prize pool / 9 players) . If we now look at what happens when 2 players get all-in with one doubling and the other busting in 9th we can see that the dollar equity of 60,000 chips is not equal to twice that of 30,000. For this to be the case this player would have to get 2nd or better every time... and in poker that just is not going to happen!

In fact by using ICM we find that the double-stacked player’s equity goes up to around $185 – a nice increase. The rest of the table have also gained – around $13 each – their chances of the top spots just improved and the lowest level they can hit just moved up too.

So what can this tell us about strategy early in the final table? Firstly we have a quandary here – our strategic goal is to go for the top spots but looking at $ equity it seems that the reward of doubling up (and extra $55 in equity) does not match our risk (the original $130).

There are two things to mention here, firstly that this math is for an all-in confrontation. The best strategy may indeed be to avoid these as the caller, unless your stack is big enough to survive or very small then you need a big (70%ish) edge against an opponents range to call an all-in. When you are the aggressor in a confrontation like this then you also have some equity gain those times your opponent folds... and this makes a huge difference.

Secondly this math works both ways! Just as you need a big hand to call and all in your opponents will need one to fight with you. Here your reads on the other players and weapons as your disposal such as steals and re-steals come into play. The key point here, especially if you have less than 10 Big Blinds is to be the one pushing and not the one calling… there will be many opponents seeking to move up the payout ladder – make sure that you take full advantage of this.

180 Final Table Strategy - The Stop And Go. Resteals And Squeezes

The stop-and-go can be a deadly weapon at the 180 final table, particularly when opponents are raising frequently but may be inclined to call a re-raise pre flop. This involves flat calling a raise out of position (usually from the blinds) with the intention to shove any but the worst flop – a great move, especially with a medium strength hand (see the linked article for a detailed explanation, this page is already getting long!)

Once down to the final few players aggression is the key factor, the payout jumps are now huge in relation to the original buy-in and many players will tighten up because of this. Even a ‘normal’ player will be reluctant to call your all-in raise without a very good hand… this range may be as tight as 4 to 7% of hands – the amount of blinds it is possible to steal here is huge. Again you should aim to be the one pushing rather than calling. I strongly recommend restealing when, re-raising all-in over a raise as a great way to chip up. The related 'squeeze play' is the same idea, only when there is a call of the initial raise. Remember to check the pot odds that your opponents receive on your call - you might accidentially price them in to calling if any player is short stacked.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of an opponent who frequently pushes all in on your blinds then you need to work out their range of possible hands. Since a thinking opponent will be pushing very wide your calling range can also adjust – but not too much!

We can use equal stacks of 90,000 chips and a $1000 prize pool with a (50% / 30% / 20%) distribution (to keep the numbers simple) and put the blinds to 8000 / 4000. Three players are left and the small blind shoves into your big blind – here is what you need to call against various ranges.

  • Opponent Pushes Top 30% (Any Pair, Ace, Any 2 Broadway + K8o+) – You can now profitably call with top 8% of hands (77+ or A10o+)
  • Opponent Pushes Top 50% (Any Pair, Ace, King, Q4o+ J8o+ and medium suited connectors) – You can now profitably call with top 13% of hands (66+, A8o+, KTs+ and KQo)
  • Opponent Pushes 100% of hands! + Your calling range can now expand to a full 33% of hands (Any Pair, Ace, K7o+, Q9o+ and high suited connectors).

Of course, these ranges can be easily changed by many factors – for further reading on when not to use ICM please see our introduction to ICM article here.

You should now be ready and able to profit from the 180 SNG tournaments at Pokerstars. Once you build that bankroll you will have gained much of the stage-by-stage experienced required to become an online tournament pro. If you have not yet discovered these great games for yourself then get over to now - remember marketing code PSP3108 for your 3x 100% welcome bonuses - click here now to check out the awesome for yourself!


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