180 Man SNG Strategy – End Game

In this final installment of our 180 man guide, we will be discussing how to make it to the final table and hopefully win. This part will cover some very fundamental, yet important topics that will spread across many arenas in poker. Most of the information you learn today can be applied to other types of tournaments and SNGs. This will be how you make most of your money and is something that should be a staple in your poker strategy.

If you haven’t read the previous articles of this 180 man SNG strategy guide series yet, do that first here:

What will be covered

To start we will be discussing the ever so crucial bubble and how to abuse it. Next we will talk about the final table and end with the final 3 players.

The Bubble

There are a few bubbles in the 180 mans, but the actual money bubble-where players make it into the money, happens when 19 players are left. We’ll get into the various other bubble situations in a second. For now let’s focus on the importance of the money bubble and how to spot and abuse those who are playing like little girls. (No offense ladies)

Once we are down to 19 players you will start to see players tighten up hoping to make that little bit of money. This is what makes the 180 man’s so unique in that a min cash is not worth going after 99% of the time. You only receive your buy in plus a little extra back for spots 18 through 10. Therefore, we should not be focusing on squeaking into the money, but punishing those who are looking to do so.

You can easily spot these players by finding the short stacks and the ones who aren’t playing many hands. At this point in the tournament you should have a decent size stack by playing aggressive. You can use this stack to make some light calls and bully the weak players at the table.

I’d love to be able to give you a definitive range of hands to play, but this just isn’t going to happen. However, the cards won’t matter all that much at this point and you should be looking for good spots more than good cards.

This means you should be looking for opportunities to steal pots with little risk. A good example of this would be as follows.

Let’s say we have 30k in chips and the blinds are 200-400. We have well over 10 big blinds and can afford to go after some small pots and losing versus a small stack will not hurt us all that much.

We are on the button with 2 random cards and the blinds both have around 4k in chips. Remember, we are on the bubble and players are trying not to bust out rather than try and win at this point. This is a perfect spot to shove all in if it’s folded to us on the button regardless of what we have. Even if they call, we are getting 2-1 on our money and losing 4k will not cripple our stack. Most6 of the time they will fold and just give you their chips with no resistance.

This is just one example, but I think you now understand what to look for.


Since we have a big stack, we can make some light calls. Many times we will be getting 2-1 on a call so any 2 cards will be a profitable call. For the record, any 2 cards are no worse than 2-1 against an opponent’s 2 random cards. Even 7-2 is no worse than 2-1.

Assume the blinds are 200/400 again and we have the same 30k stack. We are in the blinds with 45 and the small stack button shoves for 2k. The pot is now 2600 (Big Blind 400 + Small Blind 200 + All in 2k = 2600)

Since we already have 400 out there, we only need to call 1,600 more to see the flop and there is no chance we can be bluffed of the pot since our opponent is all in. Our call will make the pot 4200 so we are getting well over 2-1 on a call here. Even if we lose it changes nothing in our eyes and this call will be profitable over time.

This will also show the other players that you don’t care what you have; you’re going to call with junk. In their eyes, you will seem like a loose and reckless player whom they will likely not try to bluff often. But in reality, we are playing perfect poker.

Bottom line is you should be playing a very aggressive style when you have a big stack on the bubble. This is where you can build your stack up and go for the win. Most of these 180 mans are won during this stage. The one who can mass a pile of chips during the bubble will be the one who often wins.

Playing the short stack

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet. If you’re a short stack on the bubble, don’t even worry about squeaking into the money. You should still be looking to chip up any way possible by. Unless there is another player or 2 on a real short stack who are almost guaranteed to bust out, you should be looking to go all in and double up to give you a chance at making the bigger payouts.

The Final Table Bubble

I mentioned that there are several bubbles, and the final table will be the next one. There is a slight money bump, but it’s tiny at best and has no bearing on how we play as far as money goes. However, too many players, this bump in payouts will matter and even making the final table is a huge deal for them.

I’ll admit that making any final table is cool, but winning the most money I can is even cooler. I think we can all agree on that. Again, you should play the final table bubble the same as the money bubble-Aggressive!

Once at the final table, you should start to see things tighten up a bit. You will have a mix of short and big stacks. Your job is to stay away from the big stacks and pick on the little ones. No one wants to be the first to bust out.

The first few hands, you should sort of sit back and see how the players are reacting. It’s amazing how the final table changes how everyone plays. Some may feel so relieved and satisfied to make it this far that they don’t care if they bust out and you will see a free for all of all ins. Other times, the player’s assholes pucker up like a fist and only play AA. This will be up to you to decide how the table flow is moving and adjust accordingly.

The final money bubble

In the beginning of this series I mentioned that the only spots that actually pay some decent money are the top 3. There’s a decent jump in money from 4th to 3rd and you will see another bubble effect kick in. The remaining 4 players will have some competence and realize this as well, so will see players tighten up once again.

You should have a good idea of what type of players you’re up against and should be able to tell who you can pick on and who won’t fold a hand. All the information you gain leading up to this point will start to pay off. Use your best judgment to decide what your plan of action is. You should be raising almost every button when it’s folded to you and 3 betting from the blinds should be another constant so long as the button is an aggressive player. If they haven’t played a hand in 3 rounds, you should just fold anything but premiums.

Many times it will be a bit of a crap shoot when you hit 4 handed. The blinds will be so large relative to stack sizes that you will be forced to play weak hands. You should never be letting yourself get blinded down, which can happen quick and without warning if you aren’t paying attention. The blinds will hit you every other hand and start to dwindle your stack if you don’t try to keep it stabilized.

If there is a shorter stack in the mix, you can bully everyone at the table while keeping the short stack in. As long as that short stack is alive, no one will want to bust out. They will be hoping and waiting for them to bust. This is your prime time to build your stack up.

Final 3

Now that you’ve made it this far, you need to rely on a bit of luck and knowledge. Sadly, many times luck will be more of a factor. That’s just the nature of these games. But, a solid player makes his own luck.

You will notice a theme of being aggressive and it won’t change at this point. Stick with what got you here and do anything you can to keep your stack alive. I can’t tell you how many times I made it to the top 3 with a big stack and thought I could let the other players battle it out and coast to a victory. Was I ever wrong.

You will be amazed at how fast and how often your big stack will be the short stack if you aren’t active. My errors are now your lessons.


The 180 mans Sit and Go’s are a tricky game, but if played with an aggressive, all or nothing style, you will see nice results. It’s also important not to get frustrated during these. You can go through periods of no cashes or wins and some bad run of cards. The important thing is not to get down and out.

If you look at it like this it will help.

If you play 100 of these and only win 2 you are just about break even. The buy in for 100 of these is a little over $200. If you win only 2, you would have made a little over $200.

To go even deeper and to solidify why you should not be trying to simply cash let’s look at this example.

If you play 100 and cash in 50 of them, you are losing money. A min cash will only get your money back plus a buy in. You should be break even, but if you add in the fees to enter the tournament, you are losing money. You can see how huge a difference this is. You made money in 48 more in this example, but we are losing money versus only winning 2 of them. Pretty fuckin cool in my opinion.

And this why we play super aggressive and don’t give 2 shits about cashing unless it’s a big cash. Now get out there and start making some money!