Thursday, March 05, 2009

SNG Strategy - March Newsletter From SNG Planet

Since I went to all the trouble of writing a SNG strategy article for my SNG Planet subscribers.... we might as well share it with the good readers of Plan3t Gong too.

If anyone is wondering SNG Planet is the biggest and best site dedicated to SNGs, MTTs and Satellites around and I do a monthly newsletter for readers there - you can subscribe, and get hold of the acclaimed SNG strategy e-book 'A Comedy of Errors' at the same time over at the site... millions of links in the newsletter below!

The Great SNG Debate - Play To Win or Play To Cash??


As per the requests of many regular readers we have a more strategy
focused newsletter this month - addressing an age old debate in the
world of 1-table SNG tournaments...

** Should You Play For 1st Or Play To Cash? **

Before we get to this some more snippets of news in the world of
poker tournaments, SNGs and satellites...

- Poker Stars have improved their VIP Club further, reducing the
gaps between levels and increasing the weekly tournament prizes,
and with the 'SCOOP' a month away you have a great opportunity to
become a Poker Stars VIP while you qualify!

- Party have introduced a monthly $1 Million tournament, with many
satellites from just a few dollars

- SNG Planet have started coverage of 2-table SNGs with a general
strategy article for this popular format, with many more to follow!

Check out our news blog + articles over at the usual address:


Onto the big debate - Play to win or play to cash - we will start
by looking at the arguments put forward by proponents of each side,
and then give you an alternative view of the same question. We should
note that these arguments are specific to the 1-table 9 or 10 player
SNG tournaments.

Play To Cash View: This is based on the fact that the jump from 4th
to 3rd is 20% of the prize pool - which is equal to the jump from 2nd
to 1st!! Those who favor this argument say that locking up the 20%
brings the best returns over time and so the correct strategy is to
cash first and then go for the top!

Play To Win View: This view is based on the argument that your long
term ROI depends on the number of wins more than the number of cashes.
With 50% of the prize pool for 1st place, the 'folding into 3rd' will
never make up for taking a chance at the bubble and going for 1st every

I think both views are wrong, here is why!

In the late stages of SNG tournaments mathematics - together with the
accuracy with which you assign ranges of hands to opponents - can be
used to work our the correct plays in terms of your equity in the prize

Taking this as a starting point we can treat every situation as an
individual event. Every hand starts with chip stacks, blinds and your
positions in a certain configuration. Add to this your cards and the
calling / pushing ranges of opponents and the 'optimal' decision can
be calculated using the Indendent Chip Model.

So, let us have a look at how making good decisions based on known
facts ties in with the 2 'arguments' we started with.

1) Play To Cash, are you turning down situations in which you will gain
prize pool equity over time in order to cash? If so then your decisions
are costing you money - real money.

2) Play To Win, Are you taking negative expectation decisions at the
bubble in the hope that you can make up for these with a giant chip
stack? Well, your decisions are costing you real hard cash each time
that you make them. While it is certainly possible that your big stack
will create future profitable situations this is by no means certain,
after all opponents will loosen up considerably once the bubble has

I'd like to suggest that you forget about both of these common SNG
approches... and take on board a 3rd and more profitable approach:

"Play to make as many 'mathematically correct' decisions as possible,
and let the results look after themselves"

Once you reach 'expert' level then the meta-game will become important,
for most of us starting with an assumption like 'play to win' will
lead to spewing equity at the bubble.

Want to know more? There are 3 articles to look at, all can be found
in the SNG section over at

- Why All In? Understanding Push-Fold SNG Strategy.

- Introduction To The Independant Chip Model

- Best ICM Calculator (shows you how to quickly profit from ICM +
links to free trial of SNG Wiz).

Good Luck At The Tables, Mark

PS: Romanian Readers Alert - We have now released a 100 pages of SNG
planet in Romanian!! Check it out at

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