Once you make it ITM, you are getting paid! Congratulations. But, before you go popping the Champaign bottle, remember that landing ITM isn’t that uncommon (35-45% for a winning player). What you want is a 1st place finish. Remember the first couple chapters we discussed the importance of having 1st place finishes. Review those charts if you are confused. In order to get the first place finishes – you must be pushing all-in on the bubble. The times you get lucky and double up are the times when you are positioned well for a first place finish. Still not a guarantee though.

Once you are in the money, you will go through three stages. The “3- Remaining” stage is first. In this stage, you’ll take notes of any super donkeys (pushing all-in way too often, calling raises with bad hands). You’ll use this information to gauge how aggressive you will play while in this stage.

If you make it out of this stage intact, you will be heads up. Hopefully at least with an even stack. When heads up, you initially have a probe stage – where you try to gain information on your opponents style. This is an easy thing to do – low limit heads up SNG’s. Many pros play the same way (myself included) which can make their heads up style predictable. Note: You aren’t studying their play for another days tournament – the information is used while you are playing the current SNG.

As you learn your opponent’s style, you’ll start applying moves to try and trap or finish the tourney off with super aggressive play. Hopefully you win! The key is patience!

Systematic Poker Phase III Playbook

The following plays are standard plays that we will use on occasion. We explain them in this section. They are fairly basic moves and can be used in almost all stages. We’ve highlighted them as needed.

Total Bluff

ITM you do this more often. It is actually allowed. You bet after the flop even though you have nothing at all.

ALL-in reraise

During normal ITM play – your standard move will either be all-in, or reraise all-in. The blinds are over 400/200 and you can’t mess around with raises. There are no cases where you should be thinking of raising except one.

Checking it down..

Just like on the bubble – you call an alin from the short stack and the two big stacks check it down. Hopefully one of them win and they can battle it out for 1st place. Only violate this rule if you are clearly going to win (nut straigt – nut flush – full house –set).

Other Key Topics for PHASE III (ITM) Common Errors

Many novices get to the bubble and its almost like a huge sigh of relief is echoed into the stratosphere while the donkey starts donking away his stack to come in a nice 3rd place. All the built up pressure of folding, stealing blinds to survive has culminated and now all they can do is push all-in with anything and call with weak hands. This is very very common in the lower limit SNG’s. Don’t make this mistake. Understand that you can not relax until you hit 1st place. Remember one 1st place finish is equivalent to about 4 3rd place finishes! This is crazy if you think about it…

Don’t be the short stack!

This concept applies to ITM play as well. You don’t want to be the target for third place – if at all possible.

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