Push/Fold in SNGs
The push/fold portion of sit and gos will occur as you approach the money bubble, and also once you have passed the money bubble. At this point, the blinds are big and the chips are becoming increasingly valuable. The progressions you should have in most instances are to always look to push and then change what you'll do as other players change what they are doing.
If you see players who put their chips in to the pot constantly, you'll be more prone to call off against them, and you don't want to be that type of player. These players will bust their stack pretty quickly and get picked off a lot of the time without cashing in the sit and go. Picking your spots of whether to push or fold in sit and gos is important, because it determines the winners and the losers. If you shove too often you will get called more often. If you don't shove often, you won't have callers when you do have big hands. The key is to find a balance between when to shove and when to fold hands.
When to Push
Spots to push or shove in sit and gos are going to almost always be from late position. If you are shoving weak hands from early position, there's a much better chance of someone calling and you losing. When deciding to shove from the cutoff or button, depending on the size of your stack, there are a bunch of hands you can do it with. Most of the hands would be middle suited connectors or better, suited weak aces, K10 or better, QJ, the range can get wider depending on how passive or aggressive your opponents have been.
If your opponents have been very tight, then the range of hands can be almost any two cards within reason. Certainly you'll want to shove in with A10 or better with hands like KQ or any pair. The range of hands you can push with from late position will all be dependent on how the blinds play.
The best situations to get in when deciding to push or fold will be against an aggressive player who has put in a steal raise from the button or cutoff. If a player is opening more pots than they are folding, it should make your pushing ranging greater. From the big or small blind you can collect bigger pots by utilizing the three bet shove. The three bet shove will be a great play in your arsenal later on in sit and gos. This play will allow you to get value for a big hand or allow you to win a decent sized pot without a showdown.
If you get value for a big hand, this means that you have a hand like two kings and you want your opponent to call the shove. Most of the time, if someone puts in a raise, they'll think about calling. Other times your opponent will just muck their hand. Either way, if you have a big hand, and you are facing a pre-flop raise, you are in good shape. They'll either call with worse or you'll pick up a decent sized pot with no risk.
When to Fold
When deciding to fold a hand you should look at how many players are in the pot and how those players have been playing. Also, you have to keep in mind their view of you at the table. If you have been playing a lot of pots, sometimes it's best to fold hands instead of pushing in. More times than not if you are the aggressor always, hand after hand, you should fold in tough spots. Tough spots are what you want to avoid at all costs. If you get stuck in a hand it could cost you a possible win.
To make the progression from a push to a fold two things have to happen. First, you have to realize that the players around you will most likely call, and second, you have to look at your hand and see if it's good enough. If you realize that players at the table are calling off with weaker hands you should not push into them without bigger hands. You should look to fold the marginal hands and wait for a better spot to push in. Folding is something even the best players have trouble with, but, it will save money in the long run and give you a better chance of progressing through a sit and go.
Hands you should look to fold against a table with players who call more times than not are up to you, and up for interpretation. If you are in middle position sometimes you should fold a small pocket pair, or a hand like A9, or KJ. Other times you can push in. If you fold the marginal hands in middle position, you'll give yourself a better chance to win. If you think about what hands will call you, and you don't beat any of them, then you should fold. Also, if you have over fifteen or so big blinds you don't need to gamble with hands like that yet, and this should make your decision to fold easier.
In sit and gos you'll almost never have more than thirty big blinds later on in them, and the decisions to push or fold will be magnified. Once you have less than ten big blinds you should look to push a wider range because you'll need chips, but, if you are closer to the top of the chips stacks folding marginal hands and waiting for premium hands is best. You'll want to fold more hands than you will shove with when it comes down to it.
Picking spots and timing hands, when to push or fold, is everything in sit and gos. Playing like a maniac and shoving a wide range of hands will land you on the rail without a win or a cash in the game. If you can maintain a balance and only shove when you have to pick chips up you should do well.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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