Using a Poker Calculator to Win Sit and Go Tournaments

By on July 5, 2017

You may know already that sit and go action is where a good, solid poker bankroll can be built. You get to choose your maximum risk, and play against a variety of talent giving you plenty of value for your buy-in, unfortunately, most poker calculators are not designed for sit and go poker. They calculate odds based on pot size, position, draws, and betting – but only for cash games. If you’re like me and play mostly sit and go poker, you have to make moves counter to your poker calculator recommendations to be in the money consistently. These situations will occur when you are short stacked, when you are playing against a maniac, when you are chip leader, when you are heads up, and when you are 3rd place of 3 left.

Hopefully you don’t end up short stacked too often (where you really playing correctly) and someone outdrew you on a bad call or two, but when you find yourself short, you MUST be strategizing to double up. The best way to double up is to get heads up with just one other player with a decent hand. Even if you are behind with KQs and get called with A9, you are in the right spot to double up, but not against more than one player. Your poker calculator will always say to fold KQs against a raise, but that’s when you go your own way and isolate the raiser. You are mostly trying to avoid being dominated here so I look at QJ, or pocket 8’s etc. and feel I am not a huge underdog and may even be slightly favored.

Sometimes you will be up against a maniac or at least a very loose player and know you are probably ahead. Your strategy here is to re-raise, isolate and not let him draw out. That means over-betting the pot against maniacs. Again, your poker calculator is just not going to agree with this strategy here. Surviving against such players means you have to create certain aggressive opportunities or they will just simply take you down hand by hand.

Another important time to exercise your own judgment over your poker calculator is when you have a huge lead or big chip stack in comparison to your opponents. In such a scenario when you have someone out chipped like 5 or 6 to 1, it is imperative you make underdog calls that normally are a fold situation. With rising blinds, short stacks will be going in with a wide variety of hands so except for dominated Ace-X hole cards, you should be looking to get them all in. You won’t win them all, but if you win one of three situations you are still the table captain.

When I get down to heads up and 1st and 2nd place is on the line, I am quite aggressive with pre-flop raises with a wide variety of hands. I want to train my opponent into frustration. I will lay down to a re-raise but I want to set him up for an all-in where I am favored. In this, you must consistently raise, in particular from the button, holding MOST hole card combinations. If your odds calculator could scream at you, it would be doing so at this stage. Really, this is a time to turn it off, and play an aggressive mental game here. You have to go for the win here, and aim to be the favorite. Blinds are huge so take them when you can.

Ok, you’ve made it to the money but find yourself in 3rd place. Yes, it’s a profit, but turning this spot into win money is a crucial skill for making your overall profit rate of sit and go’s really take off. In saying that, aggression is the key. I look for any cards with chemistry, Ace –X suited, two face cards, 97s, etc., any pp for example, and I am all-in forcing the others to make a tough decision. Your poker odds calculator simply won’t understand this strategy so just turn the thing off, otherwise you will be blinded out 19 of 20 times while following its recommendations. You see the difference between 2nd and 3rd is minimal, so don’t be concerned about that. What you want to be able to accomplish with this aggression is to get into 1st place at least one out of every three times you are in this scenario. That will ensure a profitable overall sit and go strategy for you while using your online poker odds calculator to get you into that position.