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Your strategy for early levels (10/20, 15/30, 25/50) should be tight aggressive play for most situations with addition of limping low pairs. Many players don’t know what tight means and usually can’t throw away hands like JJ or AQ. We will go through different hand categories and discuss how to play them.

ROI – Measurement of success

In cash games you can measure your performance in big blinds per 100 hands or bb/100. In tournaments where the blinds are constantly changing you have to use another indicator. Return of investment (ROI) is the most common. ROI measures how much money you are earning on one invested dollar.

The more tournaments you have played the more your ROI will be closer to „true“ROI. A sample of 100 sit and go’s and ROI 20% won’t even tell you if you are a winning player. I would consider 500 sit and go’s as minimum sample for interpretation. You can check your ROI and other stats on Poker Pro Labs. After free registration you’ll get 20 searches a day.

Tournament equity

In the last article we talked about changing chip values. This is similar. Tournament equity represents your share of the money in the tournament. When you enter $11 sit and go the house takes $1 and each player has $10 equity. Not all players have the same skills. One who never played sng before will have significantly lower equity than sng professional. In our example we will assume that all players are on the same level of skill.

Let’s say that you will start with 1000 in chips. When 1 player busts out in the first hand, your equity rises with your stack being the same. Most of his $10 equity goes to player that doubled up (about 80%) and smaller part (about 20%) is distributed among other players (because you are getting closer to the money). The player who doubled up was risking 100% of his equity to win 80% more. You risked nothing and gained 2% of equity. If the chip leader kept on eliminating other players to the point that last 3 players were at the table, your equity would be around $19 without putting any of your chips to risk!

When you are putting your whole stack to risk, you will not truly double your chance to get it the money. You are getting money as each opponent gets eliminated. This is the reason for cautious play in early levels.


These are strong hands that you have to bet every time, particularly in low buy-in sit and go’s. The reason is that you don’t want to have more than one opponent on the flop. When everyone folds, that’s OK. In this phase your goal is to protect your chips and keep healthy stack. The usual raise is 3-5 big blinds. If there are several limpers add at least 1 big blind for each one. If there is a raise before you re-raise about 3 times the pot or go all-in.


This is also very strong hand but you have to be more careful who are you playing against. If you raise and very tight player re-raises, your best options is to fold. His re-raising range can be something like QQ, KK, AA, AK and your QQ will be in a bad shape against it. When you are facing maniac or player on tilt don’t be afraid to go all-in.


Ace-King is great hand for low blind play. Rise with it if everybody before you folded. If you get called and miss the flop you can try to bet against one opponent or let the hand go. If you hit ace or king continue with betting. If someone raised you can call and have easy decision on the flop. Either you hit and continue or miss and fold the hand.


Ace-Queen is a tricky hand that causes troubles to many players. This hand is good for rising but usually too weak to call a raise or a re-raise.

88 – JJ

Raise these hands from late position. From early position you can raise JJ and limp with 88-TT. Your play from middle position depends on your opponents. If they are tight, raise with all these hands. If they like to call raises, just limp. When you get called or limp your goal is to hit a set. When flop come all low cards you can try to bet.

Ax hands

You can raise these hands from late position, stronger kickers from middle position. When you hit an Ace on the flop, play it carefully. Remember that someone may have better kicker. When there are several limpers before you, you can try to limp suited aces.


These pairs are good to limp when there is at least one limper before you or the table is very passive. Your goal is to catch a set (set mining) and stack your opponent.

Suited connectors

You can limp with these when there are limpers before you. Continue only if you catch at least two pairs on the flop.

Other speculative hands

Play speculative hands only from late position.  Do not play total garbage like Q2o. Choose hands that may flop big. You can try to rise with hands like KT, QT, J9 suited when blinds are passive players.

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