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Sit & Go's have become a very popular format in the poker world. Especially among Texas Hold-em players on-line. Regular tournaments can last for hours, yet many Sit & Go's last less than an hour. Another favorable feature of Sit & Go's is the fact that there isn't too much time waiting for a game on-line. Since most of the major on-line poker sites have many games available with many variations, games are practically available non-stop with few exceptions. Even some brick and mortar establishments have adopted the Sit & Go format from time to time, primarily as satellite games for big buy-in tournaments.
The two most widely used basic strategies employed by most successful No Limit Hold-em Sit & Go players are 'tight-aggressive' and 'very tight'. We are now starting to see more pre-flop 'loose-aggressive' tactics and I believe this is a counter tactic to the tight play that's so prevalent in most higher stakes Sit & Go's. An evolutionary transition akin to the 'rock, paper, scissors,' dynamic.
The 'very tight' strategy is generally used effectively in small stakes poker in general, and in small stakes No Limit Hold-em particularly, because of all the undisciplined players that frequent these tables. This strategy can obviously be very profitable against a table heavy with 'loose' opponents. When playing on-line in $10. and under buy-in Sit & Go's the 'very tight' approach can be very successful. Unlike a cash game, an idle Sit & Go player benefits every time other players bump heads and one or two players are eliminated. This strategy benefits the most from this factor. Plus, the players at the small buy-in tables tend to be looser and usually not as sophisticated as players in the higher stakes games.
By 'very tight' I mean playing only AA, KK, QQ, and AK in early positions pre-flop. The pre-flop range is expanded slightly in late positions but usually still mucking small pairs, small and medium suited connectors, etc. Post-flop play is very conservative as well. Keeping pots small if possible and avoiding big pots unless confident of having a big advantage. A 'very tight' player is only aggressive with a large lead. This strategy can be employed effectively until the blinds become too big in relation to your stack, or until reaching bubble play (one or two spots away from the money).
A 'tight-aggressive' strategy is similar to the 'very tight' approach when it comes to pre-flop hand selection. Pre-flop opening hands may or may not be expanded to limping in with small pairs and suited connectors when in position and reasonably confident that the pot will not be raised. If raised a fold is usually in order. The major difference between the two tight strategies is in post-flop play. 'Tight-aggressive' players tend to bet much more aggressively on the flop with any perceivable advantage, big or small. Also, 'tight-aggressive' players will oftentimes bet out on the flop regardless of whether the flop helped them or not, especially in a heads-up pot. This strategy has tight play enhanced with 'fold equity' since many hands are won due to an opponent folding. The trade-off is it's riskier than 'very tight' play and more prone to all-in races.
In higher stakes games the 'tight-aggressive' tactics are often a must at times because the better players are more likely to detect 'very tight' play and take advantage of it by stealing pots and pushing you around. There are only so many chips on the table in Sit & Go's and those abandoned small pots add up.
We'll explore some loose plays next in Part Two...