When you move up to $10 SNGs, you’ll need to refine the strategy you used in the $5 games by adding a few more weapons. At the $10 level, your opponents are a little smarter; they’ve learned not to be
so loose. As a result, since you always want to adjust your play based on your opponents’ play, start betting more frequently. Against the looser opponents of the lower buy-ins, you only bet your strongest hands and you tried to get the most value out of them by betting big. But now you can also afford to bet a smaller amount than before to minimize your risk. I include a little bluffing in one particular situation, which is when you start playing some real poker.
on occasion, you should now flat call pre-flop. If no one has entered the pot before you, play as you did before: raising with Category 1 and 2, plus 3 and 4 in late position. But now you can sometimes call with smaller pocket pairs.
The Rule of 2 through 10: Here’s a simple rule for beginning players that provides guidelines for how much of your stack you should risk either raising or calling a raise with a pocket pair. When you’re dealt 22 to TT, you should call or raise up to the same percentage of your stack as the size of your pair. The specific examples of this are 2% for 22, 3% for 33, 4% for 44, 5% for 55, 6% for 66, 7% for 77, 8% for 88, 9% for 99, and 10% for TT. This gives you exact guidelines for situations that arise in every game. Bigger pairs, starting with JJ, are different than their smaller cousins. With small pairs you’ll usually need to improve to win. Big pairs can often win without improvement, so if you’ve been raised, you can frequently re-raise. you can even move all-in. Considerations include your position, your stack size, your opponents’ stack sizes, whether the initial raiser is conservative or aggressive, and other bits of information you may have gleaned.
When using the Rule of 2 through 10, always bring it in for a standard raise of 4 times the big blind if you have sufficient chips to meet the criterion. otherwise just call the amount of the big blind (limp in).
For example, with blinds of 15/30 and a stack of 1,400, raise to 120 with TT, but just call for 30 with 44 and fold 22.
If you limped in with your pocket pair, check and fold after the flop unless you flop a set or an overpair. An overpair is better than flopping top pair, but is still vulnerable. Play it as you would top pair with
the top kicker. Don’t re-raise on the flop with top pair or an overpair. If you bet and are raised, just call and reevaluate your situation on the turn. Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention to how people play throughout all your tight sessions. Do you think he has you beat? What kind of pot odds are you getting? Are you in or out of position? These questions will all affect how you continue to play the hand.
A set is a very strong hand and can be very deceptive, especially when someone else raised pre-flop. The best situation for flopping a set is when you call someone’s pre-flop raise with something like 55 and the flop comes AT5, or similar. you flop a set and he’s very likely to have flopped top pair. you may be able to pick up his whole stack on this hand.
With a set, you want to get all the money in if possible. If you’re the last one to raise pre-flop or if no one raises, you should always bet your set on the flop. Don’t slow play. If someone else raised and you
called, there are a number of ways to get the money in. out of position, the best way to do this is by betting yourself when the flop contains an ace or a king and hope you get raised. If the flop is all low cards, it’s probably best to check-raise. Checking and just calling is another option, but you risk letting him draw out on you. If you’re in position, you should bet if he checks and raise if he bets.
In all cases, don’t slow play after the flop; always put in a bet on the turn and usually on the river too. If the river is extremely scary with lots of straights and/or flushes possible (Ah Kh Qs Tc 5d for example), don’t bother betting your set. If he bets on that board, you’ll have to decide if you want to call. Consider the pot odds as well as his previous betting actions. How likely is he to have made his hand?
At the $10 level your opponents are a little smarter – you’ll have to start to mix things up a little to beat them.
Blinds are 10/20 and you have a 1,300 stack with 9c 9s. Two players limp before you. You limp along as well, as does the button. If you have TT, you’ll raise to 120, since that’s less than 10% of your stack. Five players see the flop of 8c 7d 4c. Three players check to you. Bet 55, the size of the pot, with your overpair.
Blinds are 15/30 and you have a 1,600 stack with 6d 6s. One player with an 1,800 stack raises to 120. You’re in the big blind and have to call 90 more. Call, since that’s less than 6% of your stack. The flop is 7d 6h 4c. Try for a check-raise. Bet the turn no matter what card comes.
If the flop is Kd Jh 6c instead, you bet first on the flop, hoping your opponent raises. Never worry about an opponent having a higher set than you. If it happens, it happens, but set-over- set is too rare to get worked up over.
Start bluffing in one particular circumstance—when you make a pre-flop raise, but the flop misses your hand. This is called a continuation bet or c-bet. The bet on the flop is a continuation of the strength you represented before the flop. The raiser is more likely to have a stronger hand than a caller, so if both hands miss the flop, which happens fairly often, many times the pre-flop raiser can pick up the pot with a bet. If the flop is K76, you can bet at it with something such as AJ. Since you raised pre-flop, your opponents will probably suspect you have AK and fold. If the flop is 752, they might still fold to your bet, thinking that you might have a big overpair or at least bigger overcards than they do. you can also make continuation bets if you raise with a pocket pair and there are one or more overcards. If you raise with 99, you can put in a continuation bet when the flop comes AQ5.
This is the only time I recommend bluffing at the $10 level. If you miss the flop and your continuation bet is raised, just fold. If it’s called, just check and fold on the turn, unless that improves your hand. If you were about to c-bet, but someone bets before you, fold. I recommend that you make a c-bet in the following circumstances:
If you get 1 pre-flop caller: C-bet all the time.
If you get 2 pre-flop callers:
Last to act, c-bet all the time if the first 2 players check.
First or second to act, c-bet if the flop contains an ace, a king, a pair, or trips. If you’re last to act and have a straight draw, don’t c-bet.
If you get 3 or more pre-flop callers:
Don’t c-bet. There may be times when this is correct after you become an expert player.
Level 4 and Higher (5 or More Players Remaining)
Play the same as the $5 games.
Four Players Remaining – The Bubble
Again, your play should be very similar to the $5 games, but you can be slightly more aggressive if you’re the biggest stack left in the hand. If you’re in the small blind or on the button (and no one has come into the pot), you can raise with any Category 8 hand or better, plus any hand where both cards are 5 or higher. From the cut-off, raise with any Category 8 hand or better. Since you have a bigger stack than the remaining players, use the largest stack size of your opponents who still have cards (haven’t already folded) to determine if you should go all-in or raise to 4BB. If the biggest stack still in the hand has 12BB or less, move all-in. you can also make these aggressive raises when you’re a medium stack and all the bigger stacks have folded.
Blinds are 100/200 and you’re a medium stack on the button with 3,500. The small blind has 1,700 and the big blind has 2,250. The big stack with 6,050 in the cut-off folds and you have 9h 5s. As
a medium stack with the biggest stack of the remaining players, you should act like a big stack. Since you’re on the button and both of your cards are 5 or higher, you should raise. Even though you have 17.5 big blinds in your stack, your biggest active opponent only has 11.25. This means you should push all-in instead of raising to 800. Since your additional chips that cover your opponents aren’t “in play” this hand, you should act as though your stack is only as big as your largest active opponent.
You may find that there are times where all the chips don’t go in pre-flop and you’ll have to
make some post-flop decisions. Since play is short-handed, you won’t need as strong a hand to compete post-flop. Assuming you raised pre-flop, bet the pot in any hand where you have at least 1 pair (either a pocket pair in your hand or you matched one of the board cards). You can also bet the pot on any flush draw, any open-ended straight draw, or if you have two overcards with an inside-straight draw. Again, if a pot-sized bet is 1/3 of your stack or more, push all-in.
If your opponent bets first, be much more selective in calling. Don’t call with worse than top pair and rarely call with draws unless you’re getting great odds. On the bubble, especially as a medium stack, it doesn’t pay to take unnecessary risks. Don’t put your tournament on the line by calling with a draw. Betting with a draw is, of course, another matter.
Blinds are 100/200 with a 25 ante and you’re the big stack with 6,000. You’re on the button with Qc Jd and you raise to 800. A medium stack with 3,000 calls in the big blind. The flop comes 9h 8h 4h. The big blind checks to you. You have two overcards with an inside straight, so you would normally bet the pot, 1,800. But that’s more than 1/3 of your opponent’s remaining stack (2,100); push all-in instead. Don’t be scared of a possible flush — if he’s got it, he’s got it. But it’s more likely that he’s worried about you and doesn’t want to finish in 4th place. You’ve got enough chips that you can afford to take chances and push the other players around.
Three Players Remaining
No changes from the $5 games.
No changes. Go forth and conquer!
- Call with low pocket pairs if the percentage of your stack required to call is less than the number of your pair.
- If you just call with a pocket pair, give up the hand post-flop unless you have a set or an overpair.
- Make a continuation bet on most flops when you raised pre-flop. Your bets post-flop should be about 70% of the pot. If you missed the flop completely, give up on the turn unless your hand improves to top pair or better.