Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Are SNGs Getting Tougher?

Just sent out a rather long newsletter to SNG Planet readers... the subject is whether SNGs are getting tougher (sounds familiar eh, well people have been saying it since I started playing!).

Anyway - will not publish all the newsletters here (you can sign-up over at SNG Planet and get the 'Comedy Of Errors' Version 2 at the same time!), but thought this might be worthy of some discussion.

Note: Lost the original formatting when I pasted into blogger - bah!


Forums, blogs and articles all over the internet are coming up at the moment with the same theory - that the SNGs are getting harder.

In this newsletter I'd like to examine this in a little more depth, first looking at the possible reasons for this perception and then making some suggestions as to how we might profitably adapt. After all, poker is one of those games where standing still for too long can damage your wealth!

Just took a quick look at Poker Stars SNGs lobby. This shows that for the $6.50s there are 5 tables each with 4 players, for the $16s there are more tables with the following pattern 7, 5, 5, 4, 4, 2,2, 1, 1, 1, 1. The $27s and $60s similar.

This shows something significant.

It shows that the tables are already full with players who like to play several tables. Recreational players will join the 'fullest' table available - yet even at the smaller buy-ins there are several people at each table waiting to be filled.

While it does not always follow that these are winning opponents you should work on the assumption that they are at least somewhat able.

The profits of the past used to be split between 1 or 2 reasonable players. Now people appear to be fighting for scraps, with 5 or 6 grinders after the ev that 3 or 4 new players will spew - and we all know that variance can make this a long wait.

Reliable sources have suggested that the $50+ levels are even worse, often with 6 to 8 regulars on each table. This is repeated at Full Tilt, that other home of high-volume SNG Play.

The question is what has happened here?

After all the dynamics of the poker economy usually mean that the grinders leave if the games drop below a certain profitability level.

In my opinion we have a mixture of reasons. Training sites is one, and of course strategy sites such as http://www.sitandgoplanet.com/ are partially to blame! ICM used to be a niche and is now mainstream, the pushbot game is standard and the early spew of chips now comes from a smaller percentage of opponents.

What has happened is that the highest games have got tougher, which has lead the former $60 level players to move down - at the same time as the training material available has given the masses the ability and confidence to multi-table the lower levels. What you are seeing is a SNG squeeze - from the bottom as well as the top.

All very nice to have theories Mark, but how about some solutions? (I hear you all say!)

Well, let us break down the options. To my mind there are 3 possible ways to bigger profits here, all of them require a little effort, but all should pay you handsomely in the long run.

Beating Tougher Games #1 - Get Better Than Other Winners!

I know, I know, you are already a winner, sharkscope graph and all, that is great but think about this: What are you doing over-and-above the opposition? What are you doing to get a real edge over those players who already know about push / fold poker, who do not play easily dominated hands out of position early? Who are trying to put YOU on a range?

Here are some suggestions:

- If you do not already know it ICM has become a basic, even if you do not plan on using it yourself (and I recommend you do!) it is very important to understand what your opponents are doing - or how canyou adjust your own strategy to beat them?

Start Here: Poker ICM Introduction

- Following on from this 'Default Ranges' are no longer enough above the very lowest levels. If you are not analyzing ALL of your push / fold decisions after a session then you are going to get left behind. I still recommend SNG WIZ as the premier tool for this - you can get a 30 day free trial via the link below:

30 Day Free Trial Of SNG WIZ

- Next Level Thinking: Equilibrium in your ranges is becoming more and more important. Your opponents are adjusting to what they perceive as your pushing range... that is to say they are putting you on a range and adapting their play (just as you are). The next level is to adjust your range to the NEW calling range of your opponents -if they know you are doing this they will re-adjust and so on. Get SNG Wiz and run through this scenario - if nothing else it will open your eyes (and game!) to how dynamically the push / fold game can change against aware opponents.

30 Day Free Trial Of SNG WIZ

**Whew - long newsletter - stick with me though, the best is yet to come!**

Beating Tougher Games #2 - Better Table Selection

Time to be honest with yourself, how much profit does playing against other winners really cost you?

Most players would say a couple of percent, if that. They would be wrong. It can cost you a lot of real hard currency over even a small sample of games. Want to know more? Then check out the article where we worked it all out...

ROI vs Winning Regulars

Now, you can avoid these winners quite easily right? By waiting 10 minutes to start your set when there are 4 or 5 people registered for all of your preferred games.

Why then do so few people suggest, or for that matter ACT on this info?

Baffles me!

Beating Tougher Games #3 - Other Sites!

I have never understood the 'stickiness' of some poker players. Stars is the best poker site in my opinion too... yet playing there exclusively would be a very BAD decision for my poker profits, and yours. The same goes for Full Tilt, UB and anywhere else you play at as a matter of habit or familiarity.

Step back and ask yourself whether seeing your bankroll shoot up would compensate YOU for the minor hassles of changing sites and moving that money around now and again to grab the latest offers.

For me it is a no-brainer, here are some suggestions:

For US Readers:

1) Bodog - SNGs So Soft You'll Be Shocked!
Review:Bodog Poker Review

2) Cake Poker - Ban On Datamining And Stats Software Keeps the Grinders Away!
Review:Cake Poker Review

For Non-US Readers:

1) Red Kings Poker - OnGame Network, Home Of The Recreational Masses! (really, this one is a must see in 2009!)

Review:Red Kings Poker Review

2) Titan Poker - iPoker Get Our Vote As The World's Fishiest PokerGames!

Review:Titan Poker Review

My message should be clear, the games go through phases of being tough and weak. At the moment there is a double-squeeze going on, making them tougher than normal. The good news is that you have it in your power to change things around fast... all it takes is action,not tomorrow - now!

Your feedback is always welcome at: Support (at sign) sngplanet.com

Until next time GL at those tables,Mark

PS: Not tomorrow - Now!


Littleacornman said...

Great post as usual.I'm going to order a Stars piss pot to maintain my edge...

Mark said...

Haha, nice catch Acornman... undoubtedly will cause confusion for those who have not seen both posts!

Cheers, Mark