Part I - Position
I identified several playable hands in my Micro Stakes SNG Starting Hands Guide, this post will discuss how they are affected by Our Position, Stack Size and Stage of Tournament. But before i discuss those situations i want to look at bet sizing.
So we've identified the hands that we are going to play, but how much do we bet with these hands? It is standard to raise to four times the big blind (4xbb) when opening a pot... that is you're the first to act, And 4xbb +1bb for every limper in the pot.
Resist the temptation to raise more because your hand is vulnerable. e.g with AQ or 88 under the gun(utg), or less because you have a big hand. e.g AA or KK in middle position. This is a typical donkey mistake... my hand is vulnerable so i will raise more to drive out the fish... i have a monster; i don't want to scare the fish away.
The problem is that you will be building huge pots with your weak hands and small pots with your monsters. Exactly the opposite of what you should be doing! Not only that, but any semi-intelligent villain will be able to tell when you have a monster hand and when you're hand is weak and be able to play correctly against you. But I digress, for now stick to the 4xbb standard at all times.
Starting Hands: 22 - AA, ATs+, KQs, QJs
Position refers to where you’re sitting on a table relative to the dealer/button.
Early Position – Refers to the 3 seats to the left of the button. I will also add in the 4th seat; So that is the SB, BB, UTG and UTG+1. Generally you want to play extremely tight in these positions.
Raise: TT+, AQ+
Re-raise: QQ+, AK
Middle Position – Refers to the next 3 seats after early position; MP1, MP2 and MP3 (high jack). As we move closer to the button we can open more hands.
Raise: ATs+, TT+
Re-raise: same as EP
Late Position - Refers to the final two seats; the Cut off and the button itself. All hands listed can be played from this position and usually by raising.
Raise: All hands first to act
Reraise: JJ+, AQ+
Raise: TT+, AT+, KQs 4x+1bb for every limper in pot
call standard raises: 22 - TT
Limp behind: 22-99, QJs
note: We are looking for a specific result with our calling hands; with our pairs we want to flop a set. with our suited connectors we want 2pair or a strong drw to continue keeping in mind pot odds. If you feel you can get away from TP you can limp behind with a wider range: 78s+ A4s+... just remember we're Not going broke with top pair weak kicker.
With our reraising hands we want to let go of the weaker hands if our opponents shove AI or not reraise if the raise is from EP. For instance if you reraise with AQs and he shoves you will fold(with out a read). If tight utg player raises 4xbb we may consider flat calling with JJ or AQs and playing cautiously.
Importance of Position – As a micro stakes player you will notice that most of your opponents have no concept of position. They will play any hand from any position. You will not be making this mistake. Position is important because play moves clockwise, as a result the later your position the more information you have on you’re opponents.
Position = Information = Money.
As your opponents act before you, you gain information on the strength of their hand. Limping may indicate weakness or raising may indicate strength. As a result you can make a better decision on which hands to play.
Let’s look at AT played in EP & LP
You hold ATs utg+1 and raise 4xbb (bb=30)
Villain calls in MP
Villain2 in LP re-raises to 550
We have to fold (without a read).
Suppose instead of re-raising villain2 calls. Flop comes A27 rainbow. You have paired your Ace and bet out 1/2 the size of the pot, MP folds and now villain2 shoves… you fold. Villain shows A8s. Poor play on his part but calling would probably be equally as bad by you.
Now you hold ATs On the button (ontb)
Utg +1 limps in, followed by MP2 you raise 4x+1bb for each limper, utg+1 folds and MP2 calls, flop comes KT5 rainbow. MP2 checks and you make a little more than ½ pot size bet … villain folds. Note: you probably could do this with a wide range of hands once you become more experienced and learn to punish limpers.
Poker is a game of incomplete information… the more info you have the better you can play.
Note: I’m trying to provide basic strategy in this post; consequently it’s somewhat tighter than I play myself. For example, I usually open raise 3xbb and open all of these hands from all positions and re-raise with most of them from late position. But I’m pretty confident playing post flop at this level and can adjust according to the situation. If you’re a novice or struggle at these stakes the strategy above should be a good base to start from.
Part II will discuss stack sizes and stages of the tournament