SNG tips_the re-steal

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Jeffrey | Poker Articles, Poker Strategy, Poker Tournament

Submitted by Steve, this article is a part of the Poker Tournament series.

Single Table Tournament Tips

If you’re an online poker player who’s ever started a bankroll from scratch, you know that the best way to pamper a sorry excuse for a bankroll to life is through single table tournaments also know as sit and goes or simply SNGs. SNGs offer great odds to individual players, and when somebody’s goal is rather not to lose than to win a lot, they’ll do the job wonderfully.

This is exactly why it is extremely important that you whip your SNG skills into shape, because the road to becoming a long term winner in online poker leads through these SNGs.

Basic STT strategy is not difficult to master and you’ll find useful recommendations to that end in just about any free poker article available online to everyone. Most such articles however, fail to cover the more
advanced aspects of the issue, like that of re-stealing. Let’s first make it clear what re-stealing is.

In every SNG, there comes a critical moment when the proportionality between the blinds and the average stacks reaches a value that makes blind-stealing attempts a must for everyone who wants to survive at the table. According to Sklansky, the bigger the blinds are in relation to the average pot, the looser one can tackle the problem, because of the favorable pot odds that he gets. Playing with a rakeback deal will improve your pot odds a little on every hand that you commit money on. The smaller the blinds are in relation to pot sizes, (and why not, to the average chip stack at the table) the tighter one should play. This theory is exactly what’s behind the necessity to steal some blinds once that point in play comes about.

What this theory also means though (and what most experts recommend players to do in this situation), is that players will attempt steals on hands they’d normally be reluctant to commit that many chips on. A player who attempts a steal (only a reasonably good player though who uses that grey matter in his/her skull for thinking and anticipation) will always be haunted by the possibility that the targeted person may happen upon a monster just when he makes his move. That’s why he will always expose him-herself to a nasty re-steal when attempting a whack at someone’s blind.

Being able to make a few successful re-steals coupled with some blinds-stealing of your own could mean the difference between making it to the money (or why not to 1st place) and busting out without any compensation. The danger of being blinded out is a real one in SNGs and avoiding it takes some serious skills.

While the concept of re-stealing sounds extremely simple, in reality the situation is much more complicated. For your re-steal to work, you need to pick your opponents carefully. This is one of the moves that work much better against good players than against clueless rookies. One of the basic pre-requisites of successful SNG play is that you keep a keen eye on your opponents. Try to spot the fish and try to spot solid players as well. Do not let stack sizes confuse you. In Texas Holdem, a fish can always get
lucky and outdraw some good player on rags thus building up a stack that is not likely to last.

A good player is one who raises often from the cut off or the button, who is not married to his cards when in the BB and who generally makes good moves. You’ll be able to tell all that from his/her betting patterns.

The problem with attempting a re-steal against a fish is that while he may well be aware of the usefulness in stealing blinds, he may not think twice about committing a large percentage of his stack on a marginal situation.

Make sure your table image is one that will aid you in your re-stealing (people view you as a solid player who only commits on strong hands) and be prepared to let go of the deal if you run into a stubborn opponent. There is a possibility that the person trying to steal your blind does indeed have a hand, in which case you’re making a mistake trying to confront him. Don’t let your mistakes build up.
Best regards,

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4 Comments to SNG tips_the re-steal

October 14, 2008

Hi Steve

You raise some good points in your article. I will try the re-steal myself in some of the big tournaments I play from time to time.

October 15, 2008

Although I agree with more of your comments I have to say the following:

You mentioned that re-steals happen early on in tournaments but later mention that players are reluctant to commit many chips on marginal hands. This contradicts itself. I think you were mistaken and really wanted to say that re-steals happen later on in tournaments when the blinds are up and players are reluctant to put too many chips in play with a marginal hand. That makes more sense.

Now to my point. Since the blinds are up, this means that a re-steal requires a significant re-raise and you then have to ask yourself how much of your chips are you wiling to invest late into a tournament on a hunch that your opponent is either stealing and willing to lay down the hand. For example if the blinds are 100-200 and BTN raises to 600 for the steal and you are in the BB, how much to you re-raise with to re-steal? A 1200 raise gives BTN a shot at 1900 for only 600 (3:1 or not bad odds) while a raise of 2400 makes it 3100 for 1800 (1.7:1 or worse odds), and in SNG there isn’t plenty of chips to go around (usually around 15000 for the whole table). Another thing is if you are the short stack, you are probably in an all-in situation with your re-steal and are more than likely to be called due to pot odds. I know for me, committing more than 30% of my chips pre-flop (late in a tournament) usually means that I will go all in. So keep that in mind when thinking about trying the re-steal. Personally I think that re-steals are better in large MTT where there is way more chips in play, but that is my opinion.

Also, your comment of rakeback has nothing to do with tournament play, but I know it’s your affiliate and that is why you added it. So players shouldn’t be concerned with it when playing SNGs.

October 15, 2008

I feel that I should also comment on Steve’s article, since I’m the one who approved it. I see your point about the confusion regarding when to attempt a re-steal McTap, although I didn’t pick up on it when I first read the article. I am convinced that Steve’s point is that good players late in tournaments will start stealing blinds with marginal hands. These are the players you should target with the re-steal. I agree with McTap that the move is more suited to the later stages of large tournament play, where the remaining players are relatively deep-stacked. You need to perform the re-steal when you have a deep stack and are up against other players with deep stacks, otherwise the pot odds could favour simply calling the re-steal raise. All in all it’s an advanced move that should be performed on players that are able to fold a hand:-). On this point I totally agree with Steve. Regarding the part about rakeback, I believe it is fine on a conceptual level to see rakeback as an increase in pot odds. You also get rakeback on SNG’s and tournaments right? The rakeback you receive increases your winning edge and is this sense I think it is ok to compare it with an increase in pot odds. As long as people realize that your actual pot odds are the same regardsless of rakeback. To Steve’s defense it is not easy to place an affiliation link to rakeback naturally in a text about a tournament strategy move:-) We allowed it this time, but might be more critical in later submissions if the text containing the affiliation link does not fit with the surrounding text.
Thanks for your comments McTap….they made me think, which is always good:-)

October 15, 2008

I think between the last 2 comments people should realize the mistake.

As for the rakeback, I not criticizing it. It is just Steve mentioned that rakeback could play a factor in determining your pot odds. I understand that you get rakeback for your tournament play, it is just that the amount has nothing to do with tournament chips (or even the current hand) as they have no monetary value outside the tournament. So rakeback should never enter your mind while playing in any tournament, or for that fact, you really shouldn’t consider it while playing cash games. The reason I say this is because most places pay rakeback on a weekly or monthly stage, therefore trying to figure out the small percentage each hand would change by would make it very confusing and time consuming. Plus the final numbers (% of rakeback you get) would rarely affect your final decision on whether or not you are getting proper odds to call/play the hand. Again, just my opinion and I have nothing against it, I just look at as a nice bonus, nothing more.

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