The Hidden Benefit Of Playing Tight Poker
Many people don’t like to play tight poker, they consider it a boring style of play and would rather bluff their way through a game considering it to be a more exciting way of playing.
The problem with playing loosely in a six player SNG is that you are going to be donating chips to the table when you run into someone with a real hand.
Loose players and bluffers abound at the six player SNG. This is where they get their kicks in trying to bluff every pot they play and raising it up with any picture card. Once you understand that this is how they play then you know that they are very easy to beat.
You simply wait for a decent hand and wait for them to bluff at you! Another reason why it is so important to play with position.
The SNG contains very weak players who will chase draws and flushes and bet the pot when they have nothing. The only way to beat these players is to make your move when you have a decent hand.
This means that you will probably play only one or two and maybe three pots before you get down to four handed or bubble play. That’s how tight you need to play to beat the game.
The reason this style of play works is because when you do play a pot you always get someone who is prepared to pay you off or simply make a bad call.
Playing tight means that all hands like K 10, Q 10, J 9, A rag are all junk hands. Suited or unsuited they are all unplayable hands.
You only need to play hands like AQ and better and 10 10 and better. Everything else is trash until you get down to bubble play.
So what this means is that when you play the few hands that you are able to play you must extract full value for the play. With these hands you can be very confident that you have way the best of it before the flop.
If it’s still early in the tournament and you get called after making your continuation bet with AQ after missing the flop then you have to start thinking that you are beat. It’s much better to let the hand go and only lose 200 – 400 chips than it is to keep going. If you are lucky you may even get to check it down to the river.
Every hand you play at this stage you should play as if your opponent has caught a piece of the flop. If you missed you need to fold and wait for another opportunity. It’s frustrating to keep waiting for a big hand and then totally miss the flop and have to fold in the face of a bluff, but it’s a patience game and you need plenty of it if you are to be a consistent winner.
All this means that by the time you get down to bubble play you have only played a couple of pots and usually you will win them all. Occasionally you will end up shortstacked but it’s much more common to get to your target of 2000 chips.
This is where the hidden benefit of being a tight player kicks in. Once you get to bubble play the blinds are going to come around very quickly and you need to take down the occasional pot to maintain your stack.
You do not need to do anything silly here. If you have your 2000 chips or better and the blinds are still 50/100 (which is usually the case) then you are sitting pretty, no matter what the other two stacks have.
You continue to play tight, not calling raises unless you have a monster. But now your playable hand range opens up a small bit. You can now raise it up with J 10, A9, and 89. If you get called then you can take it they have a big hand to call you with but what will happen now is that magically you will not get called.
Because you have a tight table image both of the other players will try and steer clear of your raises. This is why you should not abuse this element of your game.
Many players like to go on the attack once you get to bubble play but in six handed play it’s very likely that the relative chip stacks are comparable and therefore you don’t have any big stick with which to beat the other players with. If you keep raising with 89 suited eventually you will run into a hand and lose the chips you raised with which damages you.
You need to keep your raises sparing so that you maintain your stack without appearing to be over aggressive. Once you have this mastered you will be able to slowly but surely exert your greater poker skill over the other two players over a long period of time.
Bubble play can often be protracted with no player wanting to bust out. However the player that keeps limping with K 10 in first position is laying themselves open to your raise and you’ll usually take the chips because of your tight image.
It is stealing these limps and taking the blinds in this situation that will keep your stack intact and slowly growing. But you can only do this because of your previous tight image. That’s the hidden benefit of being a tight player.
The loose player on the bubble is at a big disadvantage to you for that reason.
Playing tight is a difficult discipline to learn. K 10, K J, KQ all of these hands are not playable until you get to the bubble. KQ is easily beaten by A2 in a shove situation.
“Pretty” Hands like Q9 clubs, A 10 spades should all be discarded early on. This is a discipline you have to master to become a tight player and be successful in the six handed game.