$16 Per Hour SNG Blueprint – Part #4

Boosting Your Profits

Mark's Intro To Part #4
Of all the parts of the $16 per hour Blueprint, this is the one I enjoyed writing the most. By following the strategies and insights in parts 1 to 3 you will have built the foundation of a profitable SNG bankroll building system that can easily earn you a decent hourly rate whenever you have the time to play at the tables.... Now is the time to fine tune that system – with extras which will improve your win rate incrementally. Here I will cover ways in which you can save money as well as make money… you can improve your win rate just as much by avoiding other winners or finding the easiest games as you can by getting better value from your premium pairs! While examples will be given in this part of the course, it is important that you step back from individual hands and think about how the concepts I explain relate to your overall multi-tabling strategy. Right, let us get you up to speed earning $16 or more per hour! GL at the tables, Mark http://www.sitandgoplanet.com

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$16 / Hr SNG Blueprint – List Of Contents
Chapter #1 – The Importance Of Avoiding Known Winners, In Numbers Chapter #2 - 3 Places To Find Fishy SNGs To Boost Your Profits Chapter #3 – Fine Tuning Your Early Game Strategy Chapter #4 – Fine Tuning Your Middle Game Strategy Chapter #5 – Fine Tuning Your Bubble Strategy, Equilibrium In Ranges Chapter #6 – Heads-up Play, Moving From Unexploitable Play To Exploitative Play Chapter #7 – Special: How To Exploit Regulars! Chapter #8 – Special: Isolation Plays, A Look At Ranges For Regs And Fish Chapter #9 – SNG Specific Room Reviews And Finding The Softest Games Chapter #10 – Psychology, Downswings And Subtle Tilt And How To Cope Chapter #11 – The Big Wrap Up!


Chapter #1 – The Importance Of Avoiding Known Winners – In Numbers One of the biggest factors in assessing your potential profitability in SNGs is the skill level of your opponents. While avoiding other winners every time is extremely hard. Below are simplified numbers which look at the effect of winning players at your table on your potential ROI.8 + $9. This chapter looks at how playing against other winners players affects your profit expectations . if everyone played a mythical 'perfect' poker then over a large sample we would all break even and the 'house' (poker sites) would be the only winner (due to their fees). After all.9 (so your ROI is effectively reduced to 9% after the 3 other winners have taken their average shares). what I am hoping is that the numbers make you aware that this makes a big difference – and so motivates you to seek out weak opponents at the easiest sites! In the first example I will look at a 10 player SNG where 3 of your opponents are winning players they make the same number of errors as you! As usual I will exclude rake from the calculations to keep the numbers simple. First let us briefly recap where your profit comes from in SNGs.1 or an average of $10. If your imagined ROI of 20% comes from equally 9 losing players and you now put 3 winners on the table your expected return decreases. Of course this is greatly simplified . Well.$100 pool .your ROI also affects the other winners. remaining 7 (including you) now fight over 64 / 7 = $9. What this does start to show is the large effect that playing against too many other winners can have! 2) Taking An Average Return From Each Player Individually To Calculate Your Total ROI. against 3 3 .on 'average' your 3 winning opponents will take home $12 each. games which are often populated by several winning multi-tablers as well as many inexperienced opponents.your ROI = 20% so you now can expect $1.even when you feel you have a profitable edge against those other winners. 1) Reduced Prize Pool Accounting For The Winning Player's Profits: 10 player SNG . It makes sense that you opponents get better as you move up levels. Here I look at the lower and middle levels. and your percentage return per game decreases – though the higher buy-ins increase your overall hourly rate. Against 6 remaining losers you have 20% ‘edge’. this comes from your opponents mistakes. and not all losers are equally bad.1 each . We will look at it from 3 angles.

Next let us add in 3 winners but exclude the edge against them from our super-player for now.once you have a critical mass of bad opponents at the bubble then your expectation increases dramatically (since they are liable to bust each other. ROI Against Winning Players Part #2 .winners you have 0% edge over time.. Here we have to calculate that edge by doing the math backward from the above example.The Mythical 'Super Player' First I will set the scene. $100 prize pool (50%/30%/20%).. I believe that having too many winning regulars playing for the bubble is actually a bigger drain on your winnings than the simple ‘reduce by 1/3rd for 3’ math indicates. who is good enough to have a positive expectation against all the other winners – and show why the ‘get better than the regulars’ argument is far from being the whole story.. So we reduce your 20% by 1/3rd to reflect your new average against the whole table – reducing your return per SNG from 20% to 13.90 each.33%..46 per game.50 is gone from the prize pool (on average) leaving $62.6%. losing players make plenty of bubble errors . handing you their prize pool equity). To show you how this works in practice we introduce a ‘super player’. this is just an example to show the concept).. Thus for every $10 invested he makes $4 profit – fees are excluded as usual to keep the numbers easy to work with. Next let us factor in our super-players edge against the other winners. This advice is well meant....50 for the remaining 7 players or $8. If we give the 3 winners a 25% ROI then $37. our mythical ‘superplayer’ has a 40% ROI (not really achievable long term. 10 players.. 3) Strategy Considerations Of Playing Other Winners Winning SNG players (and especially those who have followed the Blueprint!) know that profits come from the bubble! The key point here is that winning players make fewer (and smaller) bubble mistakes than losers. you can certainly make more money this way. Conversely.. His ROI with 6 average and 3 winning opponents is 24. if our super-player takes $14 from the 4 . though it is still nowhere close to the benefit you would gain from actively avoiding these regulars in the first place. How Winners Hurt You Even When You Can Beat Them! A common response on poker forums is that the key is to get better than the other winning players – ‘improve to survive’. our Super-Player has +40% and so makes (again on average) $12.

8%.. Well it is all in the calculations above (40% *6)+(6%*3)/9 = 28.5% ROI . though hopefully still make a valid point .than others.your increased profits will more than make up for it.our 3 winners have 25% so $11.6% to 28. some poker sites have better players .what is the true ROI of the super player vs the 3 winners and 6 losers. The numbers above are simplified and way too high to be real.thus the edge of the super player against the 3 winners is just over 6%. that is avoid other winners where possible.6% So his edge vs the winners has increased his expectation from 24.. Now we get to the key question .winning players at your SNG table are bad for your ROI . If this means spending 10 minutes making a coffee before you start to play because 4 ‘regs’ are waiting in each game then do so .prize pool we have $86 left for the other 9 = $9. Ask yourself this question: Is it worth the effort to move to another site when you could be one of the only long-term winners at your level? I have been making this ‘follow the fish’ point since part #1 of the Blueprint – hopefully if words alone were not enough to convince some readers to get moving then the math will make things crystal clear for you! My top suggestions for the easiest games are listed below – and should give even the most hardened multi-tablers among you more than enough games to choose from! 5 . Secondly.85 per game or 18.5 each . not much when you consider that he had 40% when these regulars he could beat were not at the table at all.and more winning players . You need to practice good table selection.whether you are better than them or not! The solution is two-fold.

this site is worth checking out. I have been recommending Pokerstars since the very first part of the course – and for good reasons. that you start to notice that there are a few too many winning regulars! Good news. 3) Cake Poker. there are several sites which have a recreational player majority which are just waiting for you to profit from! I will be doing a some ‘Mini-Reviews’ in Chapter 9 below which objectively outline the next best choices – so for now I will simply give you a short paragraph along with a link to find out more from the sites themselves. While Pokerstars is deservedly the most popular site. Bonus code SNGPLANET will bag you the 150% to $500 start up match bonus.Note: This chapter was adapted from an article we already had up at SNG Planet. then have a look (if you have not done so already) at the 3 sites below: 1) Pokerstars. Just too good to leave off of the number one spot. Claim your 100% match bonus with Marketing Code PSP3108 (when you register) and Bonus Code STARS600 when you deposit. repeat after me “I Now Understand How Big A Difference Seeking Out The Easiest Games Can Make To My Profits!!”.3 Places To Find Fishy SNGs To Boost Your Profits Now you understand the importance of finding the easiest games a couple of quick suggestions for places to play. 2) Absolute Poker: With good volume and a largely recreational player base I recommend Absolute as a back-up. Sure. the biggest selection of SNGs anywhere and a great VIP Loyalty rewards system too. particularly for softer games at the $20+ levels. but with very easy deposit options and a ‘tools ban’ which keeps most of the grinders away. This recommendation is ideal for adding a couple of soft games to a session. they offer the biggest and best game selection anywhere online. or for those times you do not feel like playing 10 tables at a time. once you hit the mid-levels there are a proportionally large number of grinders. With great loyalty schemes and a 110% to $600 start up bonus with bonus code SNGPLANET. Click to visit Cake Poker. the software is on the ugly side – however once you see that the standard of play is soft this is easy to overlook. Click to check out Pokerstars.com for yourself. with fantastic software. Smaller site. If you would be good enough to show your appreciation for the work involved in creating the Blueprint course by using my bonus codes I would be genuinely grateful. Chapter #2 . What I expect you will find as you move up the levels from the $6+50c games to the $15+$1 SNGs and beyond. Click to Check out Absolute Poker for yourself. 6 . So. Still my strongest recommendation up to the $16’s.

Taking my recommendation alone is quite enough. Your task as a profitable player is to quickly identify those players you see at the tables frequently. If you just identify and make notes on a couple of winners each time you play you will end up with a powerful advantage – both avoiding games with too many of these players and adjusting your bubble play against them will improve your profits!! 7 . You should then watch their strategy and assess who are the winners from some of the many online stats services (Tournament Shark will also do this for you).

here are a collection of tips which should see your returns improve. If you like tough decisions then try raising your ace-jack from the blinds or playing a suited connector from under the gun! Please. When opening a pot you are implicitly assuming a random distribution of hands for your opponents. I would suggest extremely strict starting hand requirements from the first 3 positions at the table. Early Game Tip #1 – Get Super Strict With Position Again and again you will read strategy which points out the value of position in poker. what many players miss is that making the ‘right play’ is up to them – it is no use at all blaming an inexperienced opponent for playing ‘badly’ after the hand. They will call you with trash after you raise pre-flop. This is a caricature of course – though it comes close. when you are fine tuning your game make some ‘rules’ which fit the importance of position into your personal style of play. call you with nothing at all on the flop. By playing the super-tight + implied odds strategy outlined in this course you will already be benefiting from the ‘loose-chaser’ type of players very well. and also from the blinds in the early stages. my advice is to read though them and then take 1 or 2 per session and think about how they might apply to your game. not the other way around – those chips are too important for the bubble to have your continuation bet re-raised when you have no idea where you stand!! Early Game Tip #2 – Exercise Caution When The Betting Is ‘Open’ When someone opens the pot your starting hand requirements must go up – and fast. This gradual build can be complimented by keeping hand examples and working on them between sessions. What this section addresses is the question “Could We Adapt Even Better To Exploit Inexperienced Opponents Early?” – the answer is a resounding yes! So. When you are multi-tabling it is important to keep decision making as straight forward as possible. Again and again I see players in lower level SNG tournaments routinely ignore this advice.Chapter #3 – Fine Tuning Your Early Game Strategy One of the (many) frustrating things about the lower to mid limit SNGs is that your opponents have a tendency to ‘call-call-call’. Take note of aggressive opponents and play when you have position on them. call you with a 4-out draw on the turn and then overbet the pot when they hit their miracle card on the river. 8 . This type of play is easy to profit from.

This gets the maximum value as bets of this size usually induce opponents to fold. out of position in raised pots – a situation which is extremely easy to avoid with just a little forethought. A common early game mistake I see is that there is a raise. If you missed the flop completely 1 or 2 opponents is best. This is crazy play most of the time. Against a single opponent you can expect to win the pot more than half the time. When multi-tabling and considering calling a raise. There are several factors which influence the success rate of your continuation bets. scan to make sure the betting is not open – that the original raiser can not come in with a 4th bet! Inexperienced players often end up playing easily dominated hands. Do make sure you make a note of any ‘serial 3-bettors’ out there. bigger (pot size or above) bets get slightly more folds – but more chips when they are called. Getting And Edge In Your Continuation Betting Continuation betting refers to betting out on the flop when you took the lead in betting / raising before the flop – you are continuing with the aggression you showed before. who re-raise aggressively with mid-strength hands. against 4 or 5 opponents your success rate can plummet to 20%. This means I prefer the more cautious approach to continuation bets. whether or not you hit the flop. If a pot gets 3-bet I advise folding all non-premium hands. the initial raiser may well re-pop the betting. Here are those 5 key continuation bet factors (Note: I have adapted from a previous SNG Planet article especially for the Blueprint course) 1) The Number Of Opponents: The bigger the number of opponents active in the hand on the flop the lower the chance that your continuation bet will succeed.when someone bets they are already reducing their range of hands significantly (by how much depends on the individual and the circumstances of course). while this diminishes as the bet gets larger there is a statistical ‘sweet spot’ between 40% to 60% of the current pot size. and even if not then you will need to assume that 2nd bettor had a great hand. Make sure you get a feel for the bet 9 . it will not be too long before you get to trap them for a very big pot indeed! Early Game Tip #3 – After The Flop. a small re-raise and then a 3rd player flat calls. any more than this and I am likely to check / fold a missed flop – maintaining the option to use a delayed continuation bet on a suitable turn card. those few times your opponents were messing around will be more than compensated by the time you save your entire stack. Bear in mind that our goal in the initial stages of a SNG is to conserve chips where possible. 2) Larger continuation bets succeed more often – …yet lose you more chips when they fail. Very small continuation bets are likely to be called often.

Proceed with caution if it is these players who make the ‘mini-donk bet’. As the board gets lower your continuation bet success rate will drop – be careful on those small-card flops. and adjust accordingly while making sure that your bet sizing does not give away too much information on your hand to an observant opponent. A common situation occurs when this out of position donk bet is for the minimum. 10 . The reason for such a derogatory term is that this bet rarely makes any sense. 5) High Cards On The Flop: The higher the flop comes the more likely your continuation bet is to succeed against a single opponent. You should often bet out even when you do not hold an Ace yourself as your opponent will not generally call without one. The same principle works with King and Queen-high flops. These are much less likely to have hit your opponent. 3) Calling Stations And Sharks: There are two types of opponent who are more likely to call your continuation bet. Here the solution is to make sure you know who the solid winners are and note them. Conversely. High card flops become dangerous in multi-way pots – be extra cautious if you have more than 2 opponents! Early Game Tip #4 – The Donk Bet And What It Means Here is a fun tip which can help you win a few pots! Inexperienced players have a tendency to bet into pots when they called a raise before the flop from out of position – especially from the blinds. This is known as a ‘donk bet’ and the player making it is ‘donking’ into the pre-flop raiser. ‘Calling Stations’ (very bad players who tend to call too often) will think that their 3rd pair with no kicker is a good enough hand to call all the way to the river – be careful of both of these opponents! 4) The Number Of Potential Draws: When the flop comes with 3 suited cards or 2 suited cards and 2 cards to a straight the success rate of continuation bets goes down considerably. and it signals weakness so often that you should almost always make a healthy raise whether you hit the flop or not when you see a min-bet from someone who did not raise before the flop. either for a good or a bad hand – or even a draw. Flops containing an Ace are the best of all. Highly skilled players and very unskilled players! The highly skilled players will expect you to continuation bet and will call often to see what you do on the turn. flops that contain pairs or widely spaced unsuited cards (known as ‘dry flops’ are excellent candidates for continuation bets. One small caveat – since good players see this so often they sometimes use it to induce a raise when they hit a monster. This is because many opponents will call your bet in the hope of getting paid off if they hit their straight or flush.sizes which are routinely called at your site.

the players who like to do it will keep doing it. perfect if you called with a high implied odds hand such as a suited connector before the flop. Many new players get so overwhelmed with the subtlety ‘he thinks she thinks he thinks’ that they end up playing backwards! Just watch those tables and you will see lots of players who bet big when weak and small when strong. call their check-raise and then re-raise their inevitable turn bet. Check-raising has its place in a balanced strategy. and this gives you some advantages over them. 11 . By the time that ‘Mr Moves’ figures that he is beaten you could easily have half of his stack in the middle. Instead of check-raising often yourself I recommend betting in a lot of situations. however it has drawbacks for both extremely strong hands and weak ones – and so should be used sparingly when multi-tabling SNGs. Make a small bet. Most of your opponents in the lower level SNGs will be inexperienced enough to be playing their own cards and thinking of little else. There is no need to get tricky when multi-tabling lower level SNGs – betting the strength of your hand.Early Game Tip #5 – Habitual Check-Raisers Checking and then raising is horribly over-used in all forms of poker. with the occasional aggressive move really is enough to make a great profit. For a start you will be able to get a lot of free cards. you will not only win a lot of small pots uncontested. Early Game Tip #6 – No Need To Get Tricky Continuing with the beginners and moves theme. but your truly strong hands will be disguised by the frequency of your bets. This means that the optimal line is usually to get as much money into the pot when you are strong. If you see this happen remember to make a note. tip 6 is that the vast majority of your play should be in line with the situation and strength of your hand. and try and keep the pot small (or win it cheaply) when you are weak. my view is that this is one of the first ‘moves’ players learn and they often go a little over the top in finding ‘opportunities’ to use it. which makes building a pot easier those times you do hit a good hand. It is almost funny to see someone who raises 4 times almost every hand suddenly mini-bet. Secondly they are ready to pounce on weakness. Those who are experienced are likely to be multi-tabling (like you!) and will probably not have noticed any of your ‘moves’ anyway.

so do the hands that your opponents can call raises with.the good news is that this move works just as well as ever! With the blinds at around 8% to 10% of your stack and 6 or 7 or so opponents still in the game then the push over limpers can be an effective – and relatively risk free – way to gain chips. with 15 to 20 big blinds in your stack and it is time to turn up the aggression. The answer really depends on this type of players post-flop tendencies. you are down to 6 or so opponents. In this section I will cover how to take advantage of them in addition to some strategies for stealing a bit more than your fair share of blinds in preparation for the bubble.Chapter #4 – Fine Tuning Your Middle Game Strategy Next we come to the middle game. especially whether or not they can fold that pair of 6’s on an Ace-Queen-Ten flop! While the hands you can call raises with go down. If you see a raise ahead then get into the habit of either ditching these hands or re-stealing / value re-raising with them. suited aces and small pairs should not be used to call raises under most circumstances. An interesting perspective on the lack of implied odds is how to best profit from those players who do not understand this and go ahead with ‘set mining’ with only a potential 5-to-1 available if they hit and get fully paid. Here is the kind of situation we would like to see before making this move: 12 . in fact there are now very few situations where you should be calling raises at all. Those suited connectors. This leads to the situation where you can profitably raise with those same hands you snap fold to a raise ahead. Implied Odds Implied odds go way down in the middle stages of SNG tournaments. I again suggest identifying 1 or 2 of these per session to think about and implement into your own approach to the middle stages. Steal light. Mid Game Tip #2 – The Push Over Limpers Note: This is another tip which I adapted from an original article at SNG Planet . a number of tips which will each improve your ROI are outlined below. You will see a huge amount of mistakes made in the middle stages of SNG tournaments. Mid Game Tip #1 – Odds For Calling. particularly from position and against opponents you noted as competent (either through your own observations of through a tool such as Tournament Shark). In the same format as the preceding chapter. Odds For Raising.

Let us work with a 10% chance of a call from the first limper and an 8% from the second. So – 77% of the time we win 525 extra chips with no showdown. For the blinds (of yet to act) the calling range is also very narrow. The combination of these factors giving you a nice positive expectation on the move over time. the limpers may have been slowplaying a premium hand. The small differences taking into account that the second limper would probably have re-raised with many medium pairs (10-10 for example) to avoid a multi-way pot. You look down to see a hand like Ace-Jack or 99. many of them after seeing someone enter the pot . The fact is that they have already shown weakness by limping rather than raising – we would expect the gap between their limping hands and those they would call a reraise with to be fairly wide here. if someone calls you have a hand with some nice showdown value and may well double up. AKo+ and AQ suited. Our equity is thus: 99 – 44% AJs. On the whole we would expect to see a decent hand when called though – something like 77+. How likely this is depends on the individuals involved. premium pairs and AK (maybe AQ suited) we will give them 5% combined… they have seen 2 limps and a push ahead after all. The difficulty here is that (again.You have 1400 chips and are on the button… the blind is 150 and you see 2 limpers enter the pot ahead of you. In order to work out the math behind this strategy we need to answer 2 questions: How often do we expect to have a caller? When we are called what is our expectation against the range of hands which might limp and then call an all-in reraise? For the ‘percentage of time called’ many factors come into play – the level of SNG you are playing will affect this – though generally this will only be a small percentage of the time.36% 13 . The sum of these chances of being called is 23%. If the limpers fold you just increased your stack by 525 chips (including the blinds). if anyone had a genuine raising hand they have already had the opportunity to raise once. especially in the lower levels) we might get a ‘fishy call’ by a wide range. Instead of making a raise here you simply shove all-in. After all. For the remainder of the time we need to work out how our hands fare against the range of hands that we might be called with.yet they turned it down. Of course.

In a similar way to the ‘push over limpers’ above. It should be crystal clear that this move has a big positive expectation over time – as long as it is not over-used.That is a nice percentage of wins to combine with the 77% that we win without a showdown. Ideal times to resteal depend on stack sizes (see below) and also the tendencies of your opponents. since doing it 3 times in quick succession almost guarantees someone will ‘take a stand’ with their King-Ten suited! Mid Game Tip #3 – Thinking About Resealing And Fold Equity Restealing is a powerful tool in the middle stages. Since the range of hands you will be called with when restealing are at the top end. Playing Those Difficult Stack Sizes Many players struggle to play the ‘difficult’ stack sizes of 12 to 18 big blinds. Remember that the big stacks and small stacks are the ones most likely to play back at you. and small stacks may be desperate enough to go with any reasonable looking hand. we are gaining equity due to the fact that our opponents raising range is (usually) wide compared to the range of hands they are capable of calling an all-in re-raise with. My advice is to scan the remaining stacks in the hand each time you consider playing a hand. and a great way of gaining chips if the circumstances are right. If someone appears to raise every time it is folded to them on the button then a timely resteal from the big blind can make them think twice about raising next time in addition to winning you the current pot. since you will not meet too many strong players in lower limit SNGs you can steal from this type of stack 14 . if you have 30 times the blind but all of your opponents have 13 then you are effectively playing a 13 big blind stack whenever you enter a pot – this is known as the ‘effective stack size’ for that particular hand. Mid Game Tip #4 – Stack Sizes Matter. including premium pairs and big aces – using hands such as suited connectors which are ‘live’ when called by ace-king (for example) often adds a few percentage points. here you often feel you have too many chips to shove all-in – yet too few to play post flop or wish to raise pre-flop and then fold to a re-raise. This involves re-raising from the blinds or button after someone has opened the betting with a raise. In the hands of strong players stacks of 12 to 15 blinds are excellent for re-stealing with. What many new players also fail to realize is that their stacks are only as big as the biggest in the hand. Those times you are called you hope your hand will have enough equity to win a showdown between 35% and 40% of the time. Big stacks feel (often correctly!) that they can put pressure on you.

finally wins a pot and gets back to 1200. If you see someone re-raising more than once then take a quick note – you may have come across someone who is aware of the mid-stakes stack size dynamic. A scenario I see often is that the small stack goes from 800 to 600 chips by blinding away. Pay attention to effective stack sizes here. if your only remaining opponent has 7 blinds then you might as well just put them all in – since of they re-raise the huge pot odds would compel you to call. You should be raising often. It can pay to identify those players who understand how stack sizes affect play and those who do not during this stage of the tournament. Remember that a medium-stack raise from an experienced winning regular is likely to mean a tighter range than the same raise from someone who is less experienced. This stack is often enough to make everyone think twice about calling when the bubble comes – giving the short stack the opportunity to steal pots at this crucial time. and there are good reasons you should not do this. there are often one or two players whose stack would be severely dented by losing 800 chips – be prepared to shove into their blinds before you blind away yourself. imagine that this same player stole 300 chips worth of blinds while waiting – and then doubled to 2200. Likewise some of the stacks raising into you might not be able to fold to a re-raise before the flop (again largely due to pot odds). Mid Game Tip #5 – Big Stack Play In The Middle Stages Only having a big stack at the bubble can compare to the pleasures of having the chips as you get to those tricky middle stages. Mid Game Tip #6 – Small Stack Play In The Middle Stages Small stack play does not give you the luxury of waiting for good cards. attacking the mid sized stacks who are looking to make it to the bubble. Unless you want to take the worst end of a 35% / 65% or 40% / 60% showdown then be careful with your re-raising. Now. My suggestion is that you should be attacking the medium sized stacks. 15 . The key words when it comes to playing this stack are pressure and awareness (of your opponents).effectively too. this will show a greater profit over time. only to find the blinds higher and their situation still desperate.

Equilibrium In Ranges A quick recap on the central concepts of our approach to the bubble. Next we consider that A might work out that B will really call with 25%. since B. The ranges of hands people play at the bubble change when they understand the dynamics we are describing here!! So far so good. B knows that A knows he will only call with 10% and thus knows that A can push with 80%. 16 . in the lower level SNGs you only need to play a mathematically solid game – your opponents will make errors that will pay your hourly wages! It follows that most of the tips below concern giving accurate ranges to your opponents and exploiting situations where stack sizes allow you to get an advantage.Chapter #5 – Fine Tuning Your Bubble Strategy. First of all. In order to get good data out of our ICM calculator we need to put our opponents on reasonable ranges. I will talk a little about equilibrium: Bubble Profit Tip #1 . we are making decisions which maximize our prize pool equity over and over again. or playing to cash. These decisions are driven by the math behind the Independent Chip Model. each understand ICM and know that the other one also understands this. Note that the real numbers will vary depending on exact stack sizes and player ranges – I have once again simplified the numbers in order to make the point clearly! Player A is in the small blind and decides he can profitably push a range of 80% of hands with 8 big blinds. getting a profitable edge against B’s 25% calling range. you need to have a tool such as SNG Wiz to calculate this. who is in the big blind will only call with the top 10% of holdings. Player B can use the math to work out that he can actually profitably call with 25% of hands – exploiting A’s assumption to his benefit. since B ‘knows’ that A will push 80%. in case anyone needed a refresher! We are not playing to win. A can then counter this strategy by only pushing 65%.Equilibrium In Bubble Ranges: In this example there are two thinking players. However.

an equilibrium in the ranges.We could carry on here. The very small stack is immediately to your right and is almost all-in by posting the big blind. The idea is that the medium stacks do not want to go out in 4th while there is still a tiny stack at the table – and as a big stack you use this fact to your advantage! Here is an example of such a situation. once you are known your pushing range into a ‘good’ opponent can tighten -just a little – this will exploit the fact that they are assuming your will be pushing wide. though I am sure you get the picture – at some point in this chain of ‘he knows. make sure you calculate your expanded calling range against this kind of play at various different stack size levels. Bubble Profit Tip #2 – Keeping The Bubble Alive! Here is another tip adapted from a SNG Planet article. Since they assume you will not call wide. Your stack is big enough that losing a hand to either of the ‘medium stacks’ still leaves you with a comfortable chip lead. she knows. You give up the chance to bust 17 . what we need to ask is: What are the practical applications? If we stick to the first couple of levels you should be able to profit from this idea fairly fast. you might need to readjust once people figure your pattern! The rest of this chapter comprises some bubble play tips. C/O: 2100 Button: 2100 Small Blind (You!): 7500 Big Blind: 500 In this situation you can strongly consider folding your small blind to the small stack – even if you are dealt a strong hand He will then have 650 chips and you 8350. he knows’ we reach a balance point. you will be able to profit!! Conversely. their pushing range increases. when the situation is right you can literally own the bubble by keeping an ultra-short stack alive! Sometimes a tiny stack at the bubble can give you the opportunity to take chips from your medium stacked opponents. As with everything in poker. I recommend that you go through 4 or 5 levels of a scenario above with SNG Wiz – you will notice that the ranges get gradually closer together. Regulars will often push into you too light once they see you in enough games to see you as a thinking regular yourself. Of course. In this example we assume that the blinds are 300 and 150 (chips shown before posting the blinds). this is all very well in theory.

many players with big chip-stacks do not want to take the worst of it for no reason. I do not recommend this to be honest. It is not just the immediate gain in chips which is the important factor here. Remember. for example being more willing to resteal. you can make plenty of money playing the numbers without second guessing yourself in these situations… though the more adventurous among you might like to try this move! 18 . many will help you to define their ranges at the bubble by suddenly making an out of character bet. Once the bubble does burst and you arrive in the money places you may well have an even bigger chip lead than before. though you might be pleasantly surprised by the number of hands you can still profitably call. Bubble Profit Tip #3 – Adjusting To The Position Of The Big Stack It is always useful to ask ‘where will my chips come from?’ as you approach each bubble. This can also be used as an elaborate bluff. to give yourself enough chips to threaten the big stack – if not with elimination then at least with a ‘stack swap’ later down the line. You can definitely give them a looser bubble calling range than a mid-stack. Alarm bells should be ringing here. Each chip you take while the bubble is still going gives you a greater chance of getting 1st place later. which can make it more difficult to steal those times you are folded to. If the medium stacked players are oblivious to anything but their own two cards then this less effective.the small stack because you can create an even more favorable situation by raising the other guys! In this example you can raise enough to put the medium stacks all-in on the next 2 hands. There are times when you can anticipate this situation during the middle stages. One particular issue occurs when you have the big stack to your immediate left. Bubble Profit Tip #4 – That Looks Unusual! Just as many new poker players get tricky in the early stages. The easiest to spot is when someone who has pushed all-in several times suddenly makes a small raise (mini-raise being the favorite) instead. One thing you need to be careful with is making sure that your opponents have enough understanding of bubble play to make this work. A net gain of 900 chips. For example if someone doubles up early and then wins a pot or two during the mid stage against timid opponents it can quickly become apparent that you have a bubble problem in the making! Here is can become worthwhile making an aggressive move against the remaining players.

There are situations where your expectation in prize pool equity from folding is actually positive – and sometimes significantly positive. In this example you might have an advantage of a couple of dollars (percentage points) per round. When your opponents are crazy. The edge would have to be very small mind. player 2 goes all-in for 400 chips. giving up a little ev today to have more tomorrow. well – we do have the biggest collection of top quality SNG articles anywhere online!! This concerns when the time is right to cooperate with your opponents and ‘check down’ to ensure that the bubble bursts – a common and profitable move! There are times where it makes more sense to check than to bet – even if this means committing the ‘poker crime’ of giving an opponent a free card with which to beat you. This is one of the rare situations I would consider turning down a small positive edge according to the numbers.Bubble Profit Tip #5 – When ‘$ev Fold’ Is Higher Than It Seems The expected value of folding is the baseline from which we can decide whether a move has a positive or negative return. The initial call is largely based on the pot-odds (you are calling 200 chips to see a pot of 1000 so 19 . just from the benefit of this craziness. This is a perfect situation to call the 200 chips with the intention of checking the hand down with player 3. player 3 calls and you look down to see 6-8 off suit. pushing all-in and calling all-ins hand-after-hand. When To Cooperate And When To Push! Another tip adapted and improved from a SNG Planet article. The main example occurs at the bubble (or close to it) in a SNG when a small stack is all-in. something inside me just takes leaving even the smallest amount of prize pool equity on the table! Bubble Profit Tip #6 – The Cooperation Play. This article will explain why ‘checking a hand down’ with another large stack can be more profitable than betting out – and also explain when not to check down! Here is a common situation in a Sit N Go tournament with 4 players remaining and the standard 3 player 20 / 30 / 50% payout structure: Player 1: 4000 Chips Player 2: 400 Chips Player 3: 3000 Chips (after posting the small blind of 100) Player 4 (You): 2500 Chips (after posting the big blind of 200) The action is as follows: Player 1 folds. you may be confident that the bubble will burst without you.

Exercise: Think about the above scenario in terms of prize pool equity. Now when Player 2 wins the hand there are still 4 players actively competing for the 3 paying places.getting 5-1). estimating how much you have before the hand and then after you successfully eliminate player 2. 20 . under normal circumstances Player 3 will cooperate with you in maximizing the chance to eliminate player 2 by checking the hand down. may result in a situation where a hand that could have beaten player 2 in a showdown folds on the flop. especially with a weak or vulnerable hand. However there is another reason to call here. By doing this you increase the chances that Player 2 will be eliminated and that you both move into the money paying places. Betting.

This will teach you how to play unexploitably. Moving From Unexploitable Play To Exploitative Play My advice earlier in the course was to give yourself a grounding in the SAGE heads-up system. but not bet out or raise without a strong hand? I am sure that using some of the logic we already discussed in this course you can work out how to adjust to players who call too often and those who are likely to do different things with their strong hands and weak hands. Exercise: What deviation from SAGE would you make to best exploit a player whose tendency was to call too many bets. This might make your play exploitable. if an opponent is ultra-tight and you stick to pushing all in only with the ‘safe’ SAGE-determined ranges then you are probably giving them too many free ‘walks’ in the blinds. Now you have the basics understood (and hopefully memorized!) we can move on to some improvements.Chapter #6 – Heads-up Play. since your wide range could be called profitably more often. By moving away from the play suggested by SAGE you will be opening your own play to being exploited by a savvy opponent. ensuring that your play can not be manipulated. Here is the basic logic: In order to take advantage of your opponent. Fortunately. if they were this good they would have moved away from lower level SNGs by now! Let us look at some simple examples. In order to take advantage of them you need to be raising with a wider range. the opponents you meet in lower level SNGs will be nowhere near good enough to take advantage… think of it this way. unless you raise every single time the timid player will likely remain timid – giving you an extra edge and thus more profit over time. you need to diverge from the ‘safe’ unexploitable play – and adjust to take advantage of their weaknesses. However. 21 . meaning you will win your share of games according to the relative size of your chip stack to that of your opponent.

Well. firstly you need to know whether they have a solid strategy or are actually just breakeven or weak players who like to play a lot of games. if called it is easy to shut down completely in the hand – though you will win the pot immediately more often than against a weaker more ‘cally’ opponent. During the middle stages you can often steal blinds from regular players with smaller bets than usual. and will have a very tight range of hands when there is action ahead. they will be forming an opinion of your play at the same time as you are theirs – so as long as you do not do the same thing every time you should be able to win those vital mid-stage pots. A tool such as Pro Poker Labs ‘Tournament Shark’ will give you this information in a special chart which attaches to your table. During the early stages you know their range of hands will be tight. Mid stage strategy is different. This gives you potential for re-steal opportunities. Once you are ‘marked’ as a regular re-stealer your opponent will raise your blind tighter and call you wider. We spoke about calling and shoving ranges at the bubble many times throughout this course. I recommend that you do not over do this move. By now the mantra of ‘regulars will call tighter and shove lighter’ should be ingrained into your brains! If you do not take the time to learn what you can profitably call with against wider ranges using your ICM calculator and making the adjustments at the table you will be leaving some money on the tables! 22 .Chapter #7 – Special: How To Exploit Regulars! You will undoubtedly come across the same players again and again while earning your $16 per hour at the SNG tables. a good regular will be raising light when folded to in a steal position. I recommend this for players who are serious about making a long-term profit. Once you come across a winning regular. many of the ways to win some chips from them are the reverse of the strategies you will be employing yourself. Again. If the situation is reversed and a regular calls your raise then you should continuation bet most of the time. nullifying your advantage. This chapter contains a few additional thoughts on how to take advantage of their strategy – which of course is similar to yours. so unless you have a great implied odds situation the best thing you can do is stay out of their way.

Chapter #8 – Special: Isolation Plays. try and fight back. Seeing this pattern should give you some ideas about how to adjust your own play to exploit this. what you will find is that people try and ‘isolate’ these small stack all-ins. kings etc) hoping that someone else wakes up with a hand and reraises behind them. .An Inexperienced Player: In the same situation will tend to do exactly the opposite. A Look At Ranges For Regs And Fish Another special situation which is worth thinking about and can win you some chips! Often you will find situation after a big hand where there is a micro-stack (or just a reasonably short one) at the table. especially the weaker ranges of the inexperienced players. as it only takes a couple of successful comebacks over a month to make a nice difference to your overall profits – the old poker saying of ‘A Chip And A Chair’ has personally worked out for me many times in the past! Anyway.5-to-1 or more including the blinds – I’ll take those kind of odds all day long! 23 . They will flat call with their mid-strength hands. either by raising or flat calling. As an aside I recommend discipline if this happens to you. and raise (often a small amount) with their premium hands. These stacks tend to shove their remaining few blinds into the pot with a very wide range. Here is a difference at the lower levels which I noted with the hands used to do this: . You might be able to get heads-up with the all in player with a reasonable hand and huge odds of 2. strong aces and mid-pairs – recognizing that these hands do well against the ‘next hand shove’ of the short stack. but do not really want anyone else involved in the pot. with their second tier hands. often all in.A Good Player: A good player will often flat call with their very strong hands (aces. The same player would raise.

so make sure you check them out soon. within 90 days). Since the software is so good for multitabling and the game selection excellent. though there are some drawbacks which need to be covered too.com Pokerstars was the site I recommended from the start of the course – there is a lot to recommend about the world’s largest site. These will allow you to get a good idea of what you can expect at the different rooms. Use This Link To Check Out Pokerstars For Yourself Now! Use This Link To Read My Pokerstars SNG Specific Review! 24 . The fantastic software and huge game selection. Even with this warning in place Pokerstars are still my favorite site. once you play there for a while you will see why this site is so hugely popular… it really is the best. This site is a must see. It is these benefits which give rise to my ‘drawbacks’. #1 Top Choice – Pokerstars. Pokerstars offer a 100% sign-up bonus over up to 3 separate deposits (max total of $600. Above this you need to be extremely careful with table selection – or find somewhere softer to play. every grinder and his dog can often be found at the tables! This means I recommend that readers stick to the $6+50c turbo SNGs and the $15+$1 turbo games at peak times (weekday evenings and weekends). without the usual ‘hype’ that you get at poker information sites! These mini-reviews are in the order I would suggest aspiring $16 per hour players to check them out. Find Soft Games!’ I figured that a great addition to the Blueprint would be a chapter giving some summaries from my unique ‘SNG Focused Room Reviews’ over at SNG Planet. To claim this simply use Marketing Code PSP3108 (when you register your account) and then Bonus Code STARS600 when you deposit. Pokerstars remain my top choice and super-strong recommendation for those taking the Blueprint course.Chapter #9 – SNG Specific Room Reviews And Finding The Softest Games Throughout this course I have been repeating the mantra ‘Avoid Winners. I will include links and would genuinely appreciate you using my codes (where applicable) for any sites you decide to join! The following summarize both the pros and cons of some of the best poker sites around. combined with one of the very best loyalty programs around make this a clear leader for SNGs.

and a range of easy deposit methods make this longestablished site a mid-sized favorite. While you will not be able to get 8 or 10 games at once here very often. #3 – For Lower Volume Yet Easy Games – Cake Poker Cake make it into our honorable mention spot despite being a minnow in the poker world compared to sites like Pokerstars! The reason is a great combination of easy deposit methods and soft SNGs. Great promotions. including a 150% new player sign up bonus matched to your first deposit (max $500. once you get to those mid-levels $20+$2 and above you will find a noticeable difference in the number of players who understand bubble strategy – a profitable place to play! Click This Link To Check Out Absolute Poker For Yourself Or This Link To Read My Absolute Poker SNG Specific Review. While the software is not in the same league as Pokerstars. These reward you as you play and have a chance element too – collecting all 52 cards during a particular Gold Card promo will net you a cool $52. use bonus code SNGPLANET to claim). That is enough recommendations for the moment… you can view more reviews over at SNG Planet! 25 . and will find noticeably fewer regulars at the table. which keeps the proportion of recreational players high compared to pros. As we know by now.#2 – Backup Choice – Absolute Poker Absolute Poker hit the sweet spot between soft games and decent volume. Cake do not allow software tools favored by many grinders. A great site to balance the larger rooms with and definitely worth checking out for yourself. recreational players = bigger profits! Another reason for checking out Cake Poker are their widely acclaimed loyalty schemes the ‘Gold Card’ and ‘Gold Chip’ programs. adding few of these soft tables will definitely increase your ROI. the games make up for this – during the evenings and at weekends you will be able to choose from a large number of SNGs.000! We focus on the soft games only for the moment – all players are entitled to a 110% to $600 matched bonus on their first deposit (use bonus code SNGPLANET to claim yours). I personally recommend that you check out the games at Absolute Poker. Click This Link To Check Out Cake Poker For Yourself Or This Link To Read My Cake Poker SNG Specific Review.

emotions like anger and frustration are very destructive in poker. We covered this is part 3. We will also cover the horror which is a prolonged downswing. save the hand history and review it later. When he calls with a premium and busts you then you ‘got unlucky’ and ‘will get him back next time’. Next. when you get re-raised a lot or flatted once too often. and briefly cover some strategies to deal with it. Subtle Tilt And How To Cope This is actually the chapter I wish I had the opportunity to read many years ago when I first started playing online poker. you will surely feel it at some point along the way – it takes people with the patience of a saint to not react when things like this occur. Firstly. The same goes for someone criticizing you in the chat box. try to work out the types and ranges of hands which your opponent is doing this with – and figure a way to beat them. Yet you have to learn to do it to become a successful player over time. Downswings. leading (you guessed it) to them losing more hands – thus forming a vicious circle. When that same guy in the 3 seat re-raises your open for the 3rd time it can be a natural reaction to jam all-in with that mid-strength hand to show that you ‘can not be pushed around’. Calling with medium hands hoping to hit monsters and running bluffs which make no mathematical sense has no place in SNG strategy. the same goes for someone who flat calls every time you raise and so on. Poker psychology can mean many things to different people. you are playing a numbers game after all. There are two more subtle forms which I would like to mention here.Chapter #10 – Psychology. in which you might overplay hands against a particular person who put a bad beat on you to ‘get even’. Start by turning off the chat. While 26 . Instead of worrying about asserting your authority. Frustration And Tilt Of course. here I wanted to expand a little bit and mention that the ‘big angry’ tilt is not the only form of letting emotions get the better of you. If the math says fold then fold. the (slim) benefit you will get from identifying fish is not worth the distraction of bad-tempered fish moaning that the poker sites are rigged against them. right? I have felt this same frustration. Turn off any avatars on the screen too. the most obvious expression of any frustration is ‘Tilt’ where your anger causes you to deviate from any form of ‘good strategy’ and push edges that actually do not exist instead. there is ‘revenge’ type tilt. you must learn to ignore them. here I will focus on: Depersonalizing situations and the subtle forms of Tilt which can easily destroy the bankroll of even the most level headed individuals. save them for your home games! Finally there is a ‘despondent tilt’ in which players feel so strongly they will lose that their play becomes passive and weak.

If this happens to you I would advise stepping up your efforts to check your hand histories. Once again. Finally. The thing about poker is that these happen to the very best players in the world. in fact the majority of today’s pros have been broke at some point in their careers! 27 .this course is not the place to discuss individual cures. downswings. with -$ev moves only at the bubble and a solid early game approach. awareness of the fact winning players can hit downswings is a great start. the variable deal of the cards can hit you hard – and will at some point in your career. If you find a leak or two that is great – though the main objective here is simply to assure yourself that you are making the right decisions. Even if your strategy is excellent. simply being aware of each of these emotional responses can really help to maintain your bankroll those times you feel them coming on! Finally for this chapter. There is no shame attached to working back up from a lower level. they come at any time and they can go on for a frustratingly long time too. do not be afraid to move back down the levels if your bankroll takes a dent. particularly big decisions at the bubble.

the extra volume of games makes you significantly more money per hour. 28 . this section included several examples to start you off. focusing on getting to the bubble with enough chips to make opponents fold and understanding the concept of prize pool equity in a general form. Part #3: Turn Up The Volume Once you have a solid strategy and insight into how to profit from the bubble the next step is to add a few more tables. My advice here covered the practicalities of multi-tabling and some strategy adjustments designed to keep your decisions postflop as simple as possible. including counter strategies. One of the key concepts of profitable SNG Play – putting your opponents on ranges of hands – was introduced in part #1. and then leave you to get on with the all important bankroll building. Let me summarize the key points from each section to refresh your memory: Part #1: The Blueprint: Here I introduced how we were going to reach the goal of making $16+ per hour by playing several tables. bring together the pieces. The idea being that by the time we added more tables the basics of ICM would be starting to become second nature. As well as going into detail on how your opponent’s style of play might affect their bubble hand ranges. While the amount you win per game goes (slightly!) down.Chapter #11 – The Big Wrap Up And Next Steps! Time to wrap it all up. Part #2: Becoming A Bubble Ninja Better understanding bubble play and prize pool equity modeling via the Independent Chip Model was the goal of this part of the course. Mistakes made by opponents at different stages of the game were detailed. I also strongly recommended you use the tool SNG Wiz to analyze your own bubble play and create a virtuous circle of improvements. I put this one early to ensure that you were able to understand and implement the adjustments required while only playing 2 or 3 tables.

though is only useful if you use it. This could allow you to build a bankroll cushion for a more confident move up later. Handling this many games. to ensure your average buy-in gives you the opportunity to reach our $16 / hour goal. I saved this until last for good reasons – too many players learn the ‘moves’ without having a solid grasp of the fundamentals. Finally. means that it will be difficult to implement all of the strategy tips and insights covered at once. GL at the tables. spending one extra week in the smaller buy-in SNGs might be valuable. Your feedback is always appreciated. You will be surprised how quickly many of them will become part of your every day routine. and is acted on more often than you would think. Depending on your starting bankroll . If you choose some of the more recreational sites then the $20+$2 games should be even softer – so do not ignore the importance of searching for sites where your profits are biggest. Choose one from the early game. You will also need to move up to the Pokerstars $15+$1 level this week. SNG Wiz is excellent for those bubble situations. and make thinking about these tips in the context of the games you are playing the priority. Rather than ‘guess’ at the bubble and have ‘good’ results. Satellites and Tournaments anywhere online – and will continue to add more.Part #4: SNG Profits Booster This part of the course contains tips and moves which incrementally add to your profits. make sure you come back to SNG Planet often – I have built up the largest collection of quality strategy articles for SNGs. Mark 29 . especially for the first time. mid game and bubble portions of the above tips per session instead. Key to your long term profits is the willingness to spend some time improving your own game and keeping your bubble play sharp. the best players keep fine-tuning and end up with excellent results. Next Steps: Moving On From The $16 Per Hour Blueprint! During this last week of the course I recommend moving to 8-tables. Once you can articulate where your profits are coming from – both in general terms and in how you plan to extract chips from individual players – you are in a much stronger position to use the tips and strategies outlined here for bigger profits.

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