How to Adjust for Good Sit and Go Players

One of the things you’ll have to learn how to do when you move up in stakes is how to adjust for the good or “regular” players. These players are going to be like you. They’ll have an understanding of push/fold strategy, what hands to play in each level and how to abuse the bubble. So if you don’t adjust, each play you make will be picked off. Go without adjusting your strategy too long and your hourly rate and ROI will be picked apart, too.

Ok, so you get that you need to adjust for good sng players. But how do you do that?

First Thing: Find Out Which Players are Good

The first step to adjusting to good sit and go players is figuring out who they are. There are many tools and clues that will help you do that.

  • Shark Scope – This tool tracks sit and goes and tournaments. You can plug a player’s name in and see how much money he’s won (or lost). The results can be filtered down to a specific game, site, dollar amount and so on.
  • Forum Name – Do you recognize this player from any of the major forums. This can be an indicator that the player is good.
  • Multi-Tabling – Check how many tables the player is on. The more tables the more likely it is that they’re good – at the very least they’re competent.
  • Your Stats – How many hands do you have on them? The more hands you have the more likely they are to be a regular.
  • VIP Status – If the poker site has a VIP program and displays the status level of their players, that will also be an indicator of how good or ‘regular’ a player is. The higher the VIP tier, the more games the player has had to play to earn it.

If you come across multiple clues for any one player, and you see that they’ve played hundreds or thousands of games, and are up in profit, it’s likely that you’re up against a grinder. Someone like yourself.

Found the Good Players? Then Make These 5 Adjustments

There are several adjustments that you will need to make against good players. The following 5 are what I recommend you start with first. I think they’ll have the most impact on your winnings.

1. Isolate Short Stacks Wider

Good players know to shove wide when they’re short. They’re going to shove any hand with equity, which even means showing up with hands like J7 or 65s. Some regulars don’t even adjust for other regulars (like yourself) and literally show up with any two cards. Find out who these players are, and you’ll be able to isolate their (short stack) shoves pretty wide, even with hands like A8, KT or QJs.

2. Play More Hands Post Flop

Who plays post flop in a sit and go? Not bad players. Good (regular) players don’t either.

That leaves a huge opportunity for you. Pay attention to the players that aren’t good at post flop play, or that play a lot of tables, and make them play post flop with you as much as you can. You’ll find that you pick up a lot of pots with continuation bets and double barrels, just because, if anything, they don’t know how to play post flop and would rather dump their (unmade) hand than risk their stack trying to outplay you.

If you’re not comfortable playing post flop yourself, then learn. Visit forums, watch training videos, hire coaches and talk to your peers. You’d be surprised at how good you can get with a little practice. And it won’t take much to be better than the majority of players at your table anyway.

3. Abuse the Bubble

The great thing about good players is that they understand the bubble, ICM and how it affects your strategy. Better yet, they know how to fold. Use this to your advantage by abusing the bubble. What this means is that you shove (pretty much) with any two cards, simply because it would be mathematically incorrect for your opponents to fold. Even if they know you have absolute air.

But I should warn you – some players will see that you’re shoving wide and will call you equally as wide, even when they aren’t supposed to according to ICM. They want to try to eliminate other good players, and are willing to risk long term equity for that sort of edge. So make note of these players when you see them so you can adjust your range.

4. Reshove More Often

Another move you should be making is reshoving on players when they open. This strategy is best used in the later stages when there are antes and lots of ‘dead’ money in the pot. When good players open, which they attempt a lot to build a stack, this creates even more dead money, and an opportunity for you to increase your stack by 20-50%, or more.

What makes this strategy work, other than the math, is that you have fold equity against good players. They know how to fold. So if you time your shoves correctly you’ll pick up an easy pot. Just pay attention to the players that know you know this, because sometimes they’ll raise or limp on purpose with a strong hand, in hopes that you’ll shove over them.

5. Lop Off the Bottom of Your Range

The last adjustment I recommend making is lopping off the bottom of your range, particularly in spots like on the button or in the blinds, when ICM says that you should shove with any two cards. Your opponents will know this, and adjust their calling range to be lighter. So you don’t want to shove hands like 72 or 84. If anything, stick to hands with equity. Even hands like 65s are better, if anything because you’ll likely have live cards if you’re called. The bottom line? Just make sure that you can make a hand when you shove, just in case you’re called. It’ll happen more often than you think against a good player.