Thanks for all the great strategy you lay out for 6 handed SNGs.
1) What adjustments, if any, to your strategy would you make for playing at Poker Stars, where one starts with only 1000 chips?
2) I'm finding that using your advice, I am in the money around 60% of the time, so far. But I am usually the short stack when heads up arrives, often by a 3 to 1 margin, so I tend to end up second. Any advice?
Good to know you are having success!
Let's answer these questions in reverse order because the answer to question one involves fundamentals of your second question.
In the money around 60% is good. It means you are no longer a losing player. However it sounds like you are now ready to make the transition from break even/slightly winning player to building your bankroll with style.
Now, you don't say how long you have been playing the game, which is in fact one of the most crucial aspects to becoming a winnng player.
It's a fact that you have to lose money before you become a winning player. It's only once you believe what other people are telling you (by their bets) that you start to win and it's only once you are a real believer that you get to be good at the game.
In contrast a non believer will keep betting/calling mostly because they don't know or refuse to believe that they are beaten in the hand.
And this is the key to understanding the winning players mentality - it is being in the pot with the best hand as often as possible that will give you the edge you need to be a consistently winning player - because your hands will stand up in the showdown more often than the other players.
It's much more difficult to make a full house if you don't start with a pair. The odds are stacked higher against you making a flush if you don't start with two suited cards, it's harder to make a straight with say K3 than it is with 8,9 or 10,J.
Understanding that it is playing good cards and having the patience to wait for them is your key to unlocking the higher game level you are seeking.
That may sound obvious!
Of course it is, but I don't want you going away thinking that you need to "open up" your game or start playing hands that you really shouldn't be playing. Just because player one get's lucky with his A2 doesn't mean you now need to start playing trash as well.
In our six seat SNG we are playing in a whirlwind of bluffing, counter bluffing and people opening with rubbish and hitting the flop hard. This is what makes the game difficult to beat for a beginner and easy to beat for the experienced player.
If you are making the money but always getting to heads up play with a big chip deficit then this is telling me that you understand the principles of tight play and playing in position but you are not ramming your advantage home when you are ahead in the few pots you are playing.
Once you have reached this stage of your game development you are about to make the giant leap to good player as opposed to the above average player that you currently are.
Poker is a very simple game on the face of it. But underneath there lies a myriad of complexities for you to uncover and unravel.
You can improve your results by starting to become a more aggressive player. As well as committing more money to pots where you think you are ahead it also means realising when you might be in a position where you are going to be blinded away if you don't make a move and learning how to steal pots.
Look at the other players you are playing against. They can't possibly have all the great hands they say they have! Are you re raising them when you have something? Be more aggressive in your play.
One very good way of improving your game like this is to play "blind". Move down to much lower stakes where losses won't hurt you. Place a sticky note over your cards so that you can't see them and see how raising and re raising in position (especially with the dealer button) can do wonders for your confidence.
The truth is that to get to the next level you just need to keep playing more and more games. The same situations will crop up again and again and with experience you will know how to play these hands.
These are the things that are missing from your game, confidence, experience and knowledge and all can only be gained by playing more games. The good thing for you is that you are not going to be losing money anymore finding out how to beat the game.
Now for the pokerstars question:
Part of being a winning player lies in your ability to make good decisions.
Why handicap yourself playing in a game that starts with only 1000 chips?