Late Stages Strategy for Poker Sit and Go's

(This article is a follow up to "Bubble Sit and Go Strategy")

Late Stages SNG StrategyThe late stage of an SNG begins after the bubble has broken and there are only three players remaining in the tournament. Everyone is going to make some money from here on out, but that doesn’t make the late stages a good time to sit back and relax. You’ve done a great job making it this far but there’s still just a little more work to be done. First place pays significantly more than second or third place, so keep your game strong for just a little bit longer.

You need to be extremely aggressive during the final stages of an SNG because the blinds are now massive and will eat you alive if you play a tight, folding game. You need to get in there and make things happen or else you’ll go out in third place. The shorter your stack is, the more important it is that you make a move soon or risk going out without so much as a puff of smoke.

It’s All About Fold Equity

The cards don’t mean much in the late stages of an SNG tournament. The best way to win chips during the late stages is without a showdown. You want to make well-timed raises and win pots by making your opponents fold. In the right situation, you can push with any two cards and it will be a profitable play. You just have to use fold equity to your advantage.

Fold equity is a term that describes how likely it is your opponents will fold to your bets. The greater your fold equity, the more likely it is your opponents will fold. During the late stages, your fold equity is your most powerful weapon. That’s why you absolutely cannot allow your chip stack to get too small. If your stack shrinks too much, you’ll lose all fold equity and will have to get very lucky to win the tournament.

You can use your fold equity to your advantage in one of two ways:

Preflop: by making all-in moves before anyone else does. If you’re the first person in the pot and think the players behind are capable of folding, you should push all-in and hope for a fold. That way you’ll be able to win the pot in two ways: if the opponent folds or you if you win a showdown.
Postflop: by making all-in moves before anyone else does. You won’t get to the flop every often in the late stages but sometimes you can pull the old “donk bet” move. This is a move where you call an opponent’s preflop raise and then as soon as the flop is dealt, you move all-in before that opponent has a chance to act. In most cases, your opponent will have completely missed the flop.

You have to be careful when using the donk bet move because players will rarely have large enough stacks for there to be any meaningful postflop action. Even so, the post flop donk bet can be a good way to shut down opponents who are willing to gamble preflop but not willing to call with nothing after the flop. Most of the time your opponents will miss the flop and have to fold because they don’t have anything to call with.

Continue accumulating chips and staying ahead of the blinds in this manner. Eventually you will either get a legitimate hand and knock someone out or two of your opponents will get involved in a large pot. Sometimes you’ll be knocked out in this stage but that’s just a part of poker.

Heads Up Play

In heads up play, you need to become even more aggressive because you’ll be paying large blinds every single hand. You should come in with a raise with almost every hand on the button. Don’t call raises from the big blind unless you plan on stealing the pot after the flop with a donk bet.

Play your strong hands the same way you play your average and weak hands. If you raise 90% of the time and then suddenly limp in with AA, your opponent may become suspicious. You’ll have better results by playing your strong hands fast and blending them in with your normal hands. Learn more heads up poker strategy.

More General Sit and Go Strategy: