SNG Strategy: The Early Stage

The basis for playing successfully when the blinds are low is to focus on starting hand selection.

Starting hands

As already mentioned in the introduction, we have to play very tight and cautiously in the beginning. We should basically stick to hands such as:

  • Premium hands: QQ, KK, AA,
  • Medium pairs: 99, TT, JJ
  • and high cards: AK, AQ

Although there are, of course, certain situations where speculative hands can also be played profitably.

Hands that require a lot of help from the board and are therefore rather speculative are:

  • Small pairs: 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88
  • Suited connectors: 45s, 56s, 67s, 78s, 89s, T9s, JTs, QJs, KQs

These hands should only be played in late position and in unraised pots, since in SNGs the blinds are pretty high in relation to the stacks right from the start. This leads to bad implied odds which are not enough to justify calling a raise with such hands.

But the blinds in the first levels are too small compared to the average stack in order to steal them, so the stealing hand range should not be all that loose. With hands like A2 to A9, QJ, etc., we can quickly find ourselves in very marginal situations that are difficult to play in case our steal-raise is called.

So I would like to explicitly point out...