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Thread: Stealing from the SB

  1. #1
    bambini's Avatar
    bambini is offline Senior Member
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    Default Stealing from the SB

    I've been running into a problem with my SNG strategy of late and wondered what you guys do generally.


    You see, I really don't like to give the BB the blinds for free. So when I'm in the SB and everyone folds to me, I generally make a 3x raise with any two cards. Because the microstakes I play often means I'm up against tight passive players, this is often profitable, as I can often induce a fold from the BB and steal the blinds. However, because of the tight passive nature of my opponents, the situation where everyone folds to me in the SB comes up quite a lot and here's where I run into trouble.

    If I have a reasonable player in to my left, then after a while they realise what I'm up to (or maybe start to take it personally) and start to reraise against me and generally put up more resistance. This means that by mid-to-late tournament, when the blinds are worth stealing, I'm less able to steal.

    Let me give you an example. It's a 6-seater SNG, last two cash and I'm on the bubble. Me and the guy to my left are the big stacks (I'm slightly ahead) and the third guy is trying very hard to cling on by folding just about everything.

    Throughout the game so far I've developed a pretty TAG image but it's pretty obvious that I'm stealing the blinds from the SB and have probably done so half a dozen times already. The guy to my left is tight and fairly passive - he's a preflop limper and no mistake. Now that we are down to the final 3 and the third player is folding everything, I'm more or less trying to steal the blinds from the SB every orbit. BB guy initially folds to my raises, but starts to get pissed off and starts reraising all-in against me, putting me in a spot where I'm forced to fold because I have junk.

    So I adjust my play and start to limp in from the SB, fearing the dreaded reraise but reluctant to give the blinds away. In essence, my play has led to me playing far more weakly, while pushing my opponent into playing correctly by upping his aggression. It's also giving the BB a free look at the flop. How annoying.

    Similar situations have cropped up a few times now. I'm thinking of folding from the SB more in the early stages (when the blinds are low) to build up a stronger TAG image, but struggle with leaving easily stealable chips on the table.

    What do you guys generally do in the SB when everyone folds to you?
    Last edited by bambini; Dec 29th, 2012 at 07:13 PM.
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  2. #2
    RyckyRych's Avatar
    RyckyRych is offline Retired Micro Grinder
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    This is an ICM spot more than anything. Generally, if you are the leader and the shorty has folded then you usually have the BB over a barrel. If stacks are about 12BBs or smaller, just shove. Put his stack at risk. Do not give him the chance to put that final tough decision on you.

    Here is a generic example using www.holdemresources.com:

    HoldemResources Nash Results

    Here the SB has so much leverage that he can push ATC and the BB can only call 7% of the time... and that's assuming he knows you are on ATC. He risks too much equity compared to what he stands to gain if he were to win the hand.
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  3. #3
    J_Verschueren's Avatar
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    Strange 6-max sit&go's you play in, Bambini. Where I used to play, this situation almost never cropped up before the bubble. And then to be up against a BB who's paying attention is another unusual phenomenon.

    A good thing to note, at the start of a sit&go, when you're not playing many hands at all, is to check how many tables your opponents are playing or whether they're hiding from the search feature (though indicative, this is not necessarily a sign of a savvy player. Donks sometimes like their privacy too). Anything from 2 to 6 tables allows for adjusting to opponent tendencies (1 tablers are usually donks), so be vigilant about "rote-play" against these opponents. People who are playing 8+ tables are usually playing the law of averages, so very tight + speculative hands under the right conditions early on and ICM in the later stages. Steal from these guys with reckless abandon. In my experience I've only had one guy play back at me after about 50 games together.

    During the early stages, if and when I get to make a decision like this, I will only raise the BB with a value range, i.e. hands which rate to be well ahead of a random hand. Later on, with ante's, when the initial pot is worth stealing, I'll take more risks. This usually coincides with stacks being on the shallow side, which is where Rycky's argument comes in.
    Last edited by J_Verschueren; Dec 30th, 2012 at 04:56 AM.

  4. #4
    RyckyRych's Avatar
    RyckyRych is offline Retired Micro Grinder
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    I didn't cover the topic J did because, well, I don't get to play anymore. :)

    However he does present sound advice. If you start to play on a regular basis you will know who the regs are and how they play. If you can, take notes on these guys. Pay attention. Just because they play 2-4-8-20 tables doesn't mean they don't make a number of mistakes or have certain tendencies. Take advantage of what you see.

    I never played many 6-max SNGs so I really do not have a feel as to how they play compared to a 9-man game... unless they were super-turbos. Those were fun. :)
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  5. #5
    Queso's Avatar
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    It's awfully hard IMO to establish a "table image" over the course of a short sit and go. I don't even think it matters. You're going to make your decisions based on chip stacks and position. Of course you'll make a general note whether your opponents are tight or loose, as they will with you. But does that really impact your blind strategy so much? You're going to raise the big blind until he starts playing back at you. When he does, you'll tighten up and wait for a hand. What's the problem?

  6. #6
    RyckyRych's Avatar
    RyckyRych is offline Retired Micro Grinder
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    Q also has good advice.

    One thing I'll add though... blinds aren't really worth stealing early in a SNG. Wait until the mid-stages and later when the threat of the bubble is closer and use that as added leverage. Even then you should know your opponent. If the guy has proven to be weak-tight then by all means, abuse him. Most of they low-limit donks can't resist seeing a flop so proceed with caution in those cases.

    There are a lot of ways to go about BvB play. I've been taught to be pretty conservative early and increasingly aggro as the blinds become a bigger percentage of the stacks and ICM/leverage increases. Also, that goes both ways... be aware when you are the guy over the barrel and try to keep your pants on.
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  7. #7
    bambini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J_Verschueren View Post
    Strange 6-max sit&go's you play in, Bambini. Where I used to play, this situation almost never cropped up before the bubble. And then to be up against a BB who's paying attention is another unusual phenomenon.
    Meh. It's PKR, where single tabling is king :) I really should make the transition to Stars, but I'm no multi-tabling grinder and PKR offers me easy money.

    Sound advice, guys. Maybe I'm just over thinking it: if blind stealing is working, then I'll keep doing it. When it stops working, I'll stop stealing. Think I might tighten up my SB steal range in the early stages though.
    "Never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city" - Coach Finstock, Teen Wolf

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