Here’s the chart for a reminder…
Usually, when you get ITM, you’ll be in one of four situations. These are self explanatory and are very similar to the bubble cases from the previous chapter.
In the above situations (CASE 1-4), your play will can vary a little bit (not quite as much as the bubble). The concepts behind our strategy is the same as it’s always been. Take risks when forced to (don’t want to be the short stack – like in CASE 1). Better to take a shot at the blinds with an all-in than to be blinded away. The advantage to taking a shot is that if you get lucky (or win the coin flip), you are in great position for first place. If you do nothing you’ll get third after being blinded away. You must act before this happens.
Initially when you start the ITM phase, you should be carefully observing the other two players. Notice that this is the first time in our entire SNG where we ask you to do this. When you observe their play, take note if they seem to be impatient or are playing tired. This is a state that a new player can get into when they get ITM (pros can have this happen as well!). You are probably about 30-45 minutes into the SNG and just got passed the most stressful part of the SNG – the bubble. A sense of relief comes over you and before you know it, you are a super aggressive (tilt-like) donkey. Raising the BB from SB with any hand, calling raises, limping in, crazy play. When this happens, you should pay attention because in some cases you will take advantage of it by playing overly aggressive against this player or by playing extremely passive and letting the big stack take him out.
Hands to Play
While in this stage, you should be playing normal poker. Basic poker for three person pots (late in tourneys), is to do the following:
No-one in the pot yet
Raise ALL IN from any position (assuming no-one is in the pot yet) with: 22-AA, A8s+, KJs+, ATo+. This is pretty much the top 10% of all hands (plus any pocket pair). You are hoping to steal the pot.
Someone has already entered the pot (raised or is all-in)
If someone has raised already, reraise all-in with the following: TT+, AT+, KQ+
If you are about to become the lone short stack – or are the short stack and about to be blinded out
Raise ALL IN from any position with: Any pair, any Ace, K7+, any two face cards, Q8+, J9+ This is pretty much the top 30% of all hands (plus any pocket pair). You are hoping to steal the pot or if you’re called to get lucky and win.
Key Idea to maximize profits.
In some cases, the odds of you getting first place are extremely slim, but the odds of a second place are about even. CASE 3.
When in this case, you should try as hard as you can to not go against the big stack (with premium hand its ok – otherwise don’t risk it unless you have no choice – pot committed). You are wanting to get your money in against the other short stack. The reason has to do with the risk/reward equation again. If you go against the big stack on a coin flip (most hands are really just coin flips or coin flips +/- 10%), you will win 50% and lose 50%. If you lose, you have 3rd place. If you win, your placing doesn’t change. Sure, its more likely that you’ll get 2nd or maybe even 1st – but your real placing hasn’t changed. If you go against the other short stack on a coin flip, if you win, you have 2nd place in guaranteed. If you lose you still have 3rd. So it should be clear that it is in your best interest to go against the other short stack if given the choice. Things happen fast and usually you can pick your battle against the player you want to pick it against. If you are in the SB and the other short stack is in the BB, blinds are 400/200, I’ll go all-in with pretty much any 2 cards just because of the fold equity + the chance I’ll win + the jump in placing if I do win. I’ll make that bet every time. Of course if it’s very clear that you will have a huge edge against the big stack, you should still call their raise or bet to steal their blind. Just be aware that the ideal is to do this against the short stack.
Typical “3 remaining” example
Basically with three people left, it will look a lot like the bubble looked. People betting with anything when their stack count starts to get in danger. People only calling all-ins with very good starting hands. If all players are decent, the results of this stage will really end up being that whoever gets lucky and wins a coin flip- will become the favorite for coming in first. The unlucky loser of the coin flip will find himself in 3rd place.
If one player is playing way too many hands, you can tighten up and either watch him get knocked out, or go ahead reraise him all-in with KJ/KQ or some other hand and watch him fold. Loosing all the blinds he just stole. Or he might call and actually have a hand. Lots can happen. You must focus on solid poker at this stage. If he’s in a lot of pots, lower your standards. Look for a chance to come over the top – reraise all-in with any pair, any two face cards,etc.
Eventually someone will go all-in with pocket pair and an AK will call. Coin flip happens and boom – you’re heads up or out in third place.