Online poker seems to be a haven for all the ultra-aggressive players the world over. When playing online poker games of nearly any limit – although, admittedly moreso in the lower limit cash games – you'll find that players play extremely quickly, extremely aggressively, and, for the most part, extremely stupidly.
Sit n Go games, as they're called, seem to especially lend themselves well to
these super-aggressive players. With their rapidly increasing blind levels,
countless opportunities for blind stealing, and the importance of gaining and
preserving an early chip lead, Sit n Go's almost provoke a necessity for
aggressive play. For these reasons, you'll find a multitude of aggressive
players playing and winning at these types of tournaments.
As we all know, however, every poker strategy has its flaws, and even the best strategy can be taken down with proper counteraction techniques. The question then arises: How do you survive the brutal, aggressive first stages of a Sit n Go tournament?
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The law applied to Newton's
theory of gravity, and can apply to poker strategy in every interpretation of
the law's meaning. The perfect way to combat an aggressive player is to take the
aggressive factor out of the equation; stick to your premium hands, play tight,
and stay out of as many pots as possible.
The first stages of a Sit n Go tournament are all about survival. Within the first rounds, you'll find that players tend to play even more aggressively than normal, trying to acquire a big chip lead to begin with so they can sit back in the middle and later stages. For this reason, you'll find a lot of big bets, and a lot of all-ins being thrown around carelessly. You want to stay out of contact with the aggressive tendancies of these players; the last thing you want is to be knocked out in the early stage of a tournament through a lucky catch on the river by your opponent.
Stick to the premium starting hands. With the blinds being small in the
beginning stages, you may be enticed to make a see a flop with sub-par cards. Of
course, you may be able to see a cheap flop with the blinds being so low, but is
that something you really want to do?
Lets say you have 9,10 offsuit in middle position and you know you're in a spot where you can see a cheap flop; you can call the big blind without fear of it being raised. You're playing against aggressive players, so there are four or five players still in the pot.
For example's sake, lets say you make middle pair on the flop. There's little action in front of you, so you decide to bet it. You bet a decent amount for the hand you have, but still get three calls. An overcard comes on the turn. Still, not much action ahead of you, so you bet again. This time, however, you're re-raised. You have middle pair, a bad kicker, not many outs, and two overcards on the board. You know your opponents are capable of bluffing, but is it that unimaginable for them to have paired the overcard when they were able to see the flop so cheaply? They could have limped in the pot with something like K,4. Really, you're in a bad spot.
This all could have been avoided if you'd stuck to playing only the top cards. Especially in these types of online poker tournaments where you know there are going to be a ton of aggressive players, only play hands which you'd be comfortable raising pre-flop with.
You should also be wary of slowplaying any type of monster hands when playing Sit n Go games. With aggressive players, slowplaying can often prove itself more dangerous in the long run. These players are more likely to jump into a cheap pot with junk. The one thing you want to avoid is them making a winning hand out of a horrible starting hand. Especially with your top drawing hands, you want to raise a substantial amount pre-flop. You don't want too many callers, as you don't want to be beaten out by an even luckier draw.
When playing with the top starting hands, play them aggressively, and try to limit the number of callers as much as possible. Keep your opponents in small numbers, and you're chances of being beaten out by a mathematically unfavourable diminish greatly.
Sit n Go games can be a great bankroll builder if you know how to play them effectively. The early stages of these tournaments are all about staying alive to fight another round. Amidst all of the other action around the table, don't be put off if you notice other players' stacks growing more rapidly than yours. Your superior strategy should take over in the middle and late stages of these tournaments, taking the early chip leads right back from the ultra-aggressive players. So, for the beginning stages, lay low for awhile. Avoid unnecessary chips loses from busted hands and eliminate your bluffing strategy altogether. Play smart, fundamental poker, and you'll see yourself through to the next stages, where you can implement all of your other strategies.