When approaching the middle rounds of a single table tournament, the blinds begin to pressure the average stack. Typically, a few players have been eliminated from play, and we begin seeing some player’s chip count grow, while others become a bit short in the stack. During the middle rounds of the single table tournament, players begin thinking about the money, thus they must adjust their tactics to give them the best chance to be paid.
What to Expect from the Middle Rounds of an SNG
In the middle rounds of a single table tournament, blinds begin to matter or count for something. Some players will adopt tighter starting hand standards, in an effort to conserve their chips. Other players, typically the deep stacked players and chip leaders, will begin playing far more aggressively before the flop, as well as on the flop. Their aggressive play is an attempt to both bully opposing players, as well as to scare their opponents into folding better hands. Additionally, short stacked players will begin pushing all-in in an attempt to either double up or go home.
How to Play the Middle Rounds of an SNG
During the SNG’s middle rounds, we no longer wish to play under the “usually limp” tactics. Because the blinds have increased, we wish to begin playing optimally and profitably before the flop. During the early stages, we are essentially making a “small poker mistake” before the flop by limping, in exchange for the hope that our opponent makes a “big poker mistake” after the flop.
This exchange of mistakes is profitable during the early rounds, as it costs us little. In the middle rounds of the SNG, however, the blinds ensure that an exchange of mistakes will be costly for us, but potentially more costly for our opponents. However, the increased blinds make it more profitable to play a more aggressive style of poker before the flop, as opposed to playing a style, which accommodates a swapping of mistakes in such a manner.
With that in mind, we want to raise preflop with the majority of our hands. Because it will cost us to see the flop, we want to charge our opposing players a premium to do so as well. We will look to tighten up our hand standards when starting from early position, playing only top twenty hands, and raising them before the flop. When playing from late position, we will again raise before the flop, but with a bit more relaxed set of standards. When action is folded to us on the button, we will usually raise preflop with any two cards, in an effort to steal the blinds.
When we raise before the flop, we will almost always make a continuation bet on the flop. The continuation bet is placed because we have tightened up our starting hand standards and will often have the best hand. Moreover, players often become afraid of the flop, thus will look for a reason to fold.
When we have a short stack during the tournament’s middle rounds, we will look to play hands that hold up well against one or two opponents. When playing such hands, we want to get all-in through one to two bets. This means we will be all-in either preflop, or on the flop in most instances when we have the short stack.
We will not look to play fancy or deceptively during the middle rounds of a single table tournament. Instead, our raises will allow us to manipulate players into folding. As a result, we will use our aggression to take down blinds, steal pots, and knock out players possessing weaker starting hand standards than that of our own.