Middle Stages Strategy for Poker Sit and Go's

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

Middle Stages SNG StrategyThe middle stages of a SNG are where things really start to pick up. The blinds have increased a few levels now (to around 50/100) and are starting to put pressure on the players. The stack sizes are now getting a little smaller in comparison to the blinds so you’ll start to see more moves of desperation. From here on out, the SNG will slowly turn into a purely preflop game. Few hands will make it past the occasional bet on the flop.

This is the part of the tournament in which you make your money. Some of the players will start to get desperate and make mistakes while others will hunker down and hope to make it to the money. Your job is to identify which player is which and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Don’t Play for Flops

The stack sizes are generally pretty short in the middle stages of a SNG. There will be a lot of ten big blind stacks and maybe the occasional player with twenty or more big blinds. With such short stacks, there’s not enough room to see anything past the flop. A single preflop raise will consume much of a player’s stack. A bet on the flop is almost always an all-in situation.

The majority of your money will be made before the flop, with occasional action on the flop. Very rarely will you see two players play to the turn or river without getting it all-in. The rest of the tournament is almost an entirely preflop game: you will make your money by either stealing the blinds before the flop or by getting it all-in with strong hands.

Abuse the Tight Players

The players who tighten up in the middle stages of a tournament are your bread and butter. These players are tightening way up because they think they have enough of a stack to make it the money, as long as they stay out of the way. You can make a lot of money off these players by stealing their blinds as often as possible.

At this point in the tournament, the blinds are now large enough to be worth stealing. You can add a lot to your stack by stealing the blinds. In fact, this should be your main strategy for building chips. Sure, if you get a chance to double up, go for it. Just realize that you can’t rely on catching strong hands as your only method of getting chips.

The best tight players to attack are the ones with average sized stacks. These players are the least likely to give you any trouble because they know they are so close to making it to the money if they just sit tight and stay out of the way. The small stacks are too desperate and the big stacks are too confident. The players with medium stacks are just right for stealing.

Value Bet the Loose Players

You can’t get too tricky against the loose players because they are more willing to call your bets. Instead, you can just avoid those players until you catch a strong hand. If you’re lucky, you’ll get action from one of those players and win chips by placing value bets with your strong hands.

Don’t assume that a player is loose just because you’ve seen him make several raises before the flop. That might just be another tight-aggressive player who is building his chip stack in the same manner as you. The best way to judge the looseness of a player is to see how that player reacts when other people enter the pot first.

Be Able to Change Gears

Every SNG will have a mixture of tight and loose players. The difficulty in playing correctly is being able to play one style against the tight players and then to be able to play a completely different style against the loose players. It’s all too easy to get stuck in one style or the other.

If you can effectively play two different styles at the same table, you’ll have great results with SNGs. You’ll be able to take maximum advantage of both playing styles without giving up an edge to anyone else. It takes a keen eye to spot the differences and an even stronger sense of control to be able to adjust your play with an instant’s notice.

Watch Your Stack Size

Your own stack size will also have a great impact on your strategy. The bigger your stack is, the less you have to worry about getting in and doubling up as soon as possible. You can simply play a solid game, steal when you see good opportunities and wait for strong hands.

As a small stack, you don’t have the luxury of chilling out and waiting for good opportunities. You will need to get your money in as soon as possible and hope that you can steal a few blinds. The worst mistake you can make as a small stack is to wait until you have been blinded down so far that you have no fold equity. It’s better to go out swinging than it is to go down with a whimpering little 1-blind stack.

Medium stack players have to play somewhere in the middle. You can’t sit around all day and wait for AA but you can still be somewhat selective about which hands you play. Your goal is not to see a flop, but rather to push when the opportunity is right so you can steal the blinds. Don’t forget to take into account how the next blind increase is going to affect you. A single blind increase can decimate a medium stack.


As the blinds get bigger during a SNG, your strategy should slowly shift to become more and more aggressive. Just remember that this doesn’t mean you can become stupid-aggressive. You will still have to choose your spots wisely and identify the players who are most likely to give up their blinds without a fight. Keep up the good work, stay patient and many good things will come to you.

Now that you know about middle stages SNG strategy, read about bubble SNG strategy.

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