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Crushing 180 Man SNG Strategy – The Early Levels

In pokers heyday, the 180 man Sit & Go’s on Poker Stars were by far the most profitable games online. This hasn’t changed much, but they have gotten a bit tougher over the last couple years.

I personally made a living off these games for over a year. I think I played too many of them and needed a change, but I still frequent them often and love the format.

While they may be a little tougher than what they once were, there is still tons of money to be made at these, even at the lower limits, and were going to show you how.

This 180 man’s SNG strategy guide will break down into 3 sections-Early, Middle and Late stages. Since each respective stage has its own unique strategy and can be a bit complex, it’s best to take them one step at a time to get the full amount of information and let it sink in.

This article will cover the early stages of the 180 mans SNG strategy and show you how to build a huge stack early on that you will definitely need if you want to make money at these.

Without further ado, let’s get started on making some money!

The 180 Man Sit & Go Structure

It’s important to talk about what makes the 180 man’s so different from most other forms of poker. The structure used in these games is much different than most formats and you need to adjust properly to have a decent ROI (return on investment).

The pay outs in the 180s are so top heavy, that cashing anywhere else but the top 3 will have little impact on your poker bankroll. A min cash in these is only double your money back and this pay out goes from 18th to 10th.

Even when you reach the final table, you still need to make the top 3 spots before you see any real money headed your way. This is why massing a huge chip stack early on is vital to making money at these.

Early stage philosophy

I play these much different than most players at the lower limits and some will disagree with my style of play, but results don’t lie and I just let them think I am some type of dummy who has no clue.

The reason these games are so good is the players in them. Most of them are so bad that you can get away with just about anything and play a very loose style that is based on getting maximum value on your big hands.

My style can be summarized as-Go big or go home. I use unconventional moves that I have found are proven to be effective over a large sample. If this only worked over 100 games or so, I wouldn’t share it with you as the sample would be too small. But, I have played over a thousand of these using this style and I know it works. Not to brag, but I have a +200% ROI in these games.

Now that I’ve told you how amazing I am, let’s get to the meat of the topic.

Right from the beginning, you want to look for optimal spots to build your stack. This is quite easy and I follow a few simple criteria when approaching the early stages.

I will only play a very select number hands and for good reason. These hands can be grouped into 2 categories.

  • Premiums
  • Implied Value

The first groups of hands are your premium ones-Aces, Kings, Queens, AK and sometimes AQ and Jacks depending on the table.

At any point I get one of these hands, I will shove all in 95% of the time. It doesn’t matter if the blinds are 10/20 and I have 1,500 in my stack, I’m going to open shove almost all the time. I’m not looking to play small ball and pick up small pots and chip up-ala Daniel Negreanu, I want to double or triple up.

Also, you will find that when you make a standard raise in the 180s, you will get called by almost everyone at the table. Playing big pocket pairs and other premium hands is almost impossible against more than 2 players. This is another reason why I like to just shove all in.

This may sound a bit odd, and it is, but you will be surprised by how many times you get a call doing this.

The average players who are in these games don’t understand poker and they think anyone who is open shoving all in has got to be bluffing. They also love to play hands and get lucky. Getting lucky and doubling up for a fish is the equivalent of a crack head…well, smoking crack, they can’t resist the temptation.

Implied Hands

Implied hands are those that have some type of connecting or set mining value. The way you will play these are exactly the opposite of your premiums. They rely on many players in the pot and you want to see a cheap flop.

The situation has to be right for these hands to play, but it will occur often making it easy to get in and see a cheap flop.

  • If no one has raised before you, limp in with these hands.
  • If other players have limped in front of you, call the big blind and look to see a cheap flop
  • If it is raised before you, call only when 1 other player has called and there aren’t aggressive players behind you to act.

You should never be raising these hands, or calling big raises with these hands. The above criteria should be the only times you play these hands and how.

Once you see the flop, your play is basic and straightforward. If you hit it hard, look to get the money in. If you missed or even if you hit a piece of it, fold and move on.

Hitting a piece of the flop can be a bit confusing, but basically your looking to hit a set with your small pairs, or some type of flush-straight, 2 pair or 3 of a kind with all other hands. You never want to get attached to a top pair type hand when you have 78 suited. It’s best to avoid any mistakes and fold even if you have top pair and there are more than 2 players in the pot.

That’s the basics of playing the early stages and it’s pretty simple. You’re looking to hit big hands or fold. You should only be playing the types of hands mentioned above. Never play hands like KQ, KJ, AJ and so on. They don’t have much value and will only get you in trouble.

The idea behind this strategy is to maximize your chip stack by getting the most value out of premium hands and capitalizing the extreme implied odds you will be getting with small pairs and drawing hands.

Everything in between should be considered garbage.

In the next installment of the 180s, we will be talking about the middle stages and how to keep your big stack and look to make it bigger. It will also talk about what to do when your stack is getting short and ways to combat your low fold equity.

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