SNG: The Early Phase
General Guidelines for playing the start of Sit & Go's
Play super-tight early!
This simple advice should be the basis of your strategy in the first three blind levels. Most of your opponents in micro-stakes Sit & Go's will play way too loose and see too many flops with weak hands, and then make weak calls post flop.
To take advantage of these weaknesses, you should play very few hands during the first three levels of play. The blinds are too small to be worth going after, and you don't want to risk your tournament without a strong hand. Let everyone else knock each other out – it doesn't matter if you fall behind in chips.
They call too often… they call too often… Just keep repeating that to yourself. When your opponents are playing too loose, you'll get paid off when you bet your big hands. But it makes bluffing a losing proposition. Just don't do it.
Don't slow play!
We recommend that you virtually never slow play or check-raise. If you have A-A and the flop comes A-Q-8, don't check-raise or just flat call. Bet or raise and then laugh when your adversary calls with Q-J. The only possible exceptions are those rare instances when you flop quads or a straight flush. Should this occur, you can slow play and check the flop, but make sure that you try to get all your chips in on either the turn or the river.
In micro-stakes Sit & Go's a check-raise almost always means a strong hand, usually two pair or better. Always fold to a check-raise unless you have at least two pair (A-K on a A-K-7 flop) yourself. If you have A-K and the flop is K-J-4, fold if you're check-raised. Stronger opponents may check raise bluff with a hand such as Q-T, but rarely in low-level tournaments. Just fold.
How are your opponents playing? Do they like to limp into a lot of pots? Do they always come in with a raise? After the flop do they call with weak draws? Do they make big bluffs? When they flop a set or trips, how do they play it? Do they bet, check-raise, or just check and call? Take notes on how other people play. It will be time well spent.