Be happy if you have more than your starting stack and strive to preserve it.
Preserve and maintain your chip stack at all times.
When you get to four handed your sole aim is to maintain your chip stack without taking undue risks and taking the blinds occasionally.
If you have a big chip lead then don't needlessly fritter it away. If you have the chips then it's for other people to get them off you. Don't keep racing with people and spewing off chips.
Many times you will see players win a big pot by moving all in when the blinds are 10/20 and getting called. Now they have double the chips to the other four players.
What happens next is a frenzied assault on the table where they start playing every pot and trying to bully the table.
Avoid Races like the plague.
This is absolutely the opposite to what they should be doing - sitting tight and waiting for a monster hand.
Instead they wake up with 10/10 under the gun and raise all in, get called by AQ and start racing.
Win or lose by constantly racing they are subjecting themselves to terrible variance. Under the gun here with 10 10 the correct play is to make the standard raise.
Then if an Ace hits the flop you can easily fold out or bet knowing you are way ahead in the hand if there are no picture cards.
The point is that by consistently making your raise when you have a hand you are not putting all your chips on the line. In this situation if the AQ moves all in after your raise then you can easily fold. Why race when it is the other players who are under pressure?
What you have to constantly keep in mind here is the blind level. When the blinds get to 300/600 you have no choice but to move all in with a hand, but until then you do and the correct play is to avoid all races like the plague.
You are playing SNG's to make money and build your bankroll. Most other people are playing to try it out and don't know any different.
When you get to four handed you need to be playing an extremely measured and patient game. The blinds are probably still 30/60 and if you have a chip stack of say 1500 then you are extremely comfortable. Even if the blinds are 50/100 you still have plenty more play.
Some players get affronted when you keep winning their blinds and start doing funny things if this keeps on happening to them. You need to develop a cunning plan to keep consistently winning a blind or two with a lesser hand if you are card dead.
The way to do this is to give up the A rag on the small blind (where the big blind has position on you) but play 89 suited or other connectors on the button.
A rag is such a terrible hand to play because if you make your raise and get called then you have no idea if you are still beat when the Ace hits. The idea is not to make plays like these where we are commiting large portions of our stack to a perceived steal.
Very often you will get called by the big blind and unless you continue betting with nothing you stand to lose the pot. In this situation it's best not to have played it in the first place. All you are doing is committing yourself to playing a heads up situation when there are still four players left. Wait for better cards - they will come.
When you do this several things start to happen.
Firstly the player to your immediate left will notice straight away that you are not trying to steal his blind and will be happy in the knowledge that you are playing it honest.
They will also know or should that you are not calling raises and seeing flops. Psychologically they know that if you raise you must have a big hand.
Let the big blind alone when you have A rag, you are in the small blind and it is four handed in this situation.
Then when it's folded to you on the button and you have 89 suited or JQ, in other words a reasonable calling hand in late position in a full ring game then you can raise it up and take down the blinds without argument..
The trick here is that it is much easier to fold 89 suited when you get played back at. In this situation if the blinds start playing back at you then you know they have a decent hand - because they know you don't steal blinds!
Similarly when you are on the big blind and you have an A rag - check it down. Don't be tempted to start betting at it unless the blinds are small enough that it's not going to hurt you. Be happy to win your blind and not put any chips at risk.
Remember that this is not the final table of the WSOP where people move all in to apply pressure, here people move all in with nothing just for the fun of it because they are action junkies - don't get caught with your pants down when this happens to you.