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Sit-and-Go Essentials Part 2: Mid-Blind Play
In part one we discussed the importance of both conserving chips and trying to chip up without putting your stack at risk.
Mid-blind play starts at around the $50/$100 level and continues until around $100/$200.
The table has most likely seen a few eliminations but is not yet short-handed.
Mid-Blind Play Adjustments
Once the blinds start escalating it's time to make some adjustments.
For one, limping should almost completely be eliminated. Open limping is pointless at this stage of the game.
The average stack is just over 20 BBs. Limping for 5% of your stack is giving away money.
If you're going to enter a pot, enter it raising or don't enter it at all. The time for limping is over.
Your goal now is supplementing your stack either with cards or without.
Playing from Early Position
Playing from early position doesn't change that much between low- and mid-blind play.
You'll still be playing very tightly.
There are still going to be pots contested on the flop and playing out of position makes this very difficult since you are almost always playing for your stack on the flop.
You want to continue to play your strong hands hard and fold your weak ones.
Don't try and get creative from early position.
Playing from Middle Position
In middle position your strategy is similar to early position.
You want to protect your chips when you're weak and you want to come in raising when you're strong.
From middle position there's no reason to get maniacal; however, you can open up your raising requirements the closer you get to the button.
Late position is always where you want to be in poker. However, in sit-and-go play it is even more important - it's where you build your stack.
Playing from Late Position
From late position it's time to get creative.
Your goal is to steal blinds - you need to add to your stack with or without premium hands. In a sit-and-go you can't just wait around for aces.
The blinds are escalating all the time and if you decide that you're only gonna play monsters, then by the time you actually get one it won't matter if you double up.
Late position is the bread and butter of a sit-and-go player. Now that the blinds are getting up there, it's time to switch gears. Your goal now becomes accumulating chips.
As we know, the best way to accumulate chips is by stealing blinds. Does that mean we can just start raising any two cards all willy-nilly because we have position? No.
Then what types of hands make suitable steal hands? The best candidates for steal hands are ones with a reasonable chance of making something on the flop in case you're called.
Random trash hands are still exactly that: trash. Though position is an incredible advantage, it doesn't mean you can all of a sudden start opening up 7-2 profitably.
Think of it this way: Which hands would you play from early position in an extremely passive cash game? This is roughly the range of hands you can now start raising from late position. A hand like 7-8s is an excellent candidate for a steal-raise.
A hand like J-2s, not so much. Your goal, of course, is to take the pot down without a fight. However, you are going to get called sometimes. This is why your hands must have at least some value on the flop.
When called, you should play your hands on the flop similarly to how you would any other time. If you are called in one spot then you should likely follow your pre-flop raise with a continuation bet on the flop.
If you're called there, then you have to take a look at the strength of your hand as a whole to decide whether to fire a second barrel.
You have a stack of $2,100 and are on the button. The small blind has a stack of $1,800 and the big blind has a stack of $2,000.
The blinds are $50/$100. It's folded around to you in the button with 6♠ 7♠.
You raise to $300; the small and the big blind both fold.
This is what we hope for. Ideally we want to just take the pot down with no contest.
The goal is to get a fold so pat yourself on the back. Free $150.
You have a stack of $2,100 and you're on the button. The small blind has a stack of $1,800 and the big blind has a stack of $2,000.
The blinds are $50/$100. All fold to you with J♠ T♣.
You raise to $300; the small blind folds and the big blind calls.
The flop comes 7♠ 8♦ 2♠.
The big blind checks, you bet $400 and the big blind folds.
In this example we get called pre-flop but now a nice continuation bet takes down the pot for us. Which leads me to another point: pay attention to how the table is playing.
If people are folding for 2.5x the BB or one-third pot-sized c-bets, then just bet that.
You want to win the pot while putting the least amount of your chips at risk as possible.
You have a stack of $1,400 and you're on the button. The small blind has a stack of $1,800 and the big blind has a stack of $2,000.
Blinds are $75/$150 and all fold to you on the button with 3♠ 3♣.
You raise all-in for $1,400; the blinds fold.
This hand is different than the previous two. In this example we have only $1,400 chips and the blinds are $75/$150, meaning we have less than 10 BBs.
The rule of thumb is if you have 10 BBs or less it's better to just shove all-in than make a small raise.
By making a small raise, you're raising 30% of your stack. If you get pushed on then it almost makes a fold mathematically impossible.
As we know one of the fundamental theorems of poker is if you're going to call a bet, you're better off making the bet yourself. So don't mess around with a small raise... just shove it all-in.
Be Aware of Table Image
While playing in the mid-blind region you must always be aware of your table image.
Be aware of how others around the table perceive you.
You'll be raising quite a lot and your opponents will change how they play against you. Some will try and re-steal against you since they know you are raising a lot.
If you sense your opponents have picked up you are stealing too much, slow down for a rotation or two.
You can't just constantly push people around with nothing. They'll eventually catch on.
So be aggressive, but always keep yourself in check.
In part three, we'll discuss high-blind, short-handed sit-and-go play.
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