Friday, July 13, 2007

Early Game Sit and Go Strategy - Suited Connectors?

Suited connectors, especially the medium to high variety, are the bread and butter of Multi Table Tournament poker and a deceptive way to build a big hand in poker cash games... but how about Sit and Go Tournaments?

Here is the crux of the matter for me... on one hand you have the implied odds in some situations to play them profitably... on the other hand you will miss most of the time and end up folding after your initial small investment in the pot - this is bad for your chances in any Sit and Go, your chips are very valuable and the games are short - lose your fold equity too early and you do not get to the place where the real money is made (the bubble) in good shape.

If life was as easy as spending 20 or 30 chips in the early blind levels then the argument for playing suited connectors in sit and goes would be stronger. Life is never that easy in poker though!! If there are people to act behind you then you risk a raise pre flop... take this example:

You limp from mid-position behind a limper with 89 suited, the c/o and button also limp, small blind folds and the BB makes it 3 times (90 chips) to go... 1st limper calls. Pot = 225 with 60 chips to you - you expect it is most likely that c/o and button will also call, effectively making your pot-odds 60/345 or 5.75 to 1. With the opportunity to double up from your 60 extra chip investment this looks like a good implied-odds opportunity. Before we get to the flop let us look at position - if we assume the BB will continuation bet then you have 2 players to act after you - effectively sandwiched between the likely raiser and 2 other players.

Apart from flopping the straight, flush or 2 pairs+ you are in a shaky situation after the flop here, you can not be sure any flush draw is the best. Even a 9 high flop carries dangers of overcards. A straight or flush draw puts you in a situation where calling a raise post-flop may induce a squeeze from one of the players behind you and re-raising commits more chips when you may be behind... all in all this is not a good SNG situation!

So on a brighter note. When can you play suited connectors? Well in position is a good start, from the button or completing the Small Blind (very cheap and less likely to be raised - but bad post flop position) are ideal opportunities. If you do limp out of position with them and get raised then I would usually only call the raise with several players in the pot and if I were to the immeditate right of the raiser... this last point is important after the flop - if we are to assume that the bet after the flop will come from the pre-flop raiser then we will be able to see the reaction of the other players in the hand before we make a decision - contrast this with being to the raisers left, now when he c-bets you have to act before the other players in the hand, any one of whom could be trapping with a monster!

Also late in the game these kind of hands go up in value - with less than 10 big-blinds and folded to they make a good shoving hand, the reason being that they are less likely to be dominated by the Ace-X or high card hands that opponents (especially at the lower levels) are likely to call with... the maths works well, you are hoping to pick up the blinds uncontested but would like to have some decent winning chances in the event that you are called.

So, suited connectors are dangerous in SNGs - they can often prove more expensive than they at first appear and use up precious chips... have a think before you play them!

Gl at the tables, Mark

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