The Early Stages of Single Table Poker Tournaments

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Single table poker tournament or SNG’s as they have become more commonly known are fast becoming the most popular form of poker online. Much of the popularity of these poker tournaments stems from numerous factors. Firstly the entire event starts and finishes in a very short space of time, usually the entire tournament is over in around 45 minutes.

This means that they are not terribly restrictive when it comes to time for most players. One could easily play an SNG in one’s lunch hour or if they have a spare 30 to 45 minutes to kill. But yet it is surprising how few people at the lower stake levels actually play the game well enough to be able to make money. Although this situation is rapidly changing with the advancement of coaching sites and tutorial material on this subject.

There are numerous techniques and strategies for playing these events. But one of the things that you have to remember when playing single table poker tournaments is that they do tend to mimic cash games at the very beginning. By this I mean with regards to the blind to stack ratio. In cash games the usual number of big blinds tends to be between 50 and 100 with most of the stronger players buying in for the maximum.

So what this essentially means is that during the first level of play in an SNG then cash game strategy tends to prevail. By cash game strategy I mean a tight and not too aggressive approach rather than a loose aggressive one. Let us say for instance that your tournament had either nine or ten players. This is the same number as what you would face in a full ring game. So for the first level of an SNG then a full ring game strategy is a very good way to play.

But also there are contrary opinions to this and that the proper strategy in single table tournaments is now so well known that opening up and playing a more attacking style during the early levels is now being seen as a more viable strategy.

I don’t overly agree with this and especially in micro stakes and low stakes tournaments. I think even though the level of play is increasing slowly, it is still correct for novices not to become too aggressive too early in the tournament. So how should you play during the early stages?

Well if you remember that an SNG is basically a miniaturized version of a full-scale poker tournament then you will be better placed to understand an optimal way in which to play them.

But at the end of the day there are massive differences between full scale poker tournaments and single table tournaments. The main difference is of course with regards to the time factor. Strong tournament players who play large multi-table tournaments over numerous hours and even over several days often have playing styles that involve being aggressive from the beginning.

Their goal is to try to accumulate as much dead money as they possibly can before all of the novice players and weaker tournament players are eliminated. This method of play has tremendous validity but its function is dramatically reduced in single table tournaments because strong players do not have the same amount of time that that they do in full tournaments in which to outplay the weaker players.

Even today in what is a far more aggressive poker environment, the solid strategy of playing tight aggressive at the very beginning is still a strong way to play. This does not just apply to tournament poker but also to single table tournaments as well.