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$16 Per Hour SNG Blueprint Part #4

The Profit Booster!

Planet Marks Intro To This Section: Of all the parts of the $16 per hour Blueprint, this is the one I
enjoyed writing the most. By following the strategies and insights in
parts 1 to 3 you will have built the foundation of a profitable SNG
bankroll building system that can easily earn you a decent hourly rate
whenever you have the time to play at the tables.... Now is the time to
fine tune that system with extras which will improve your win rate

Here I cover ways in which you can save money as well as make money
you can improve your win rate just as much by avoiding other winners
or finding the easiest tables as you can by getting better value from your
premium pairs by smart river bet sizing!

While examples will be given in this part of the course, it is important

that you step back from individual hands and think about how the
concepts I explain relate to your overall multi-tabling strategy.

Right, let us get you up to speed earning $16 or more per hour!

GL at the tables,

Copyright Notice: The contents of the $16 / hour SNG Blueprint are copyright Planet Corporation Kft and may not be
reproduced without express written permission. We proactively protect this text, and all associated websites using
Copyscape TM, and have a no exceptions policy of always reporting infringements to ISPs, Search Engines and any 3
party sites our material is used to commercially promote.

$16 / Hr SNG Blueprint Table Of Contents

Chapter #1 The Importance Of Avoiding Known Winners, In Numbers

Chapter #2 - 2 Places To Find Fishy SNGs To Boost Your Profits

Chapter #3 Fine Tuning Your Early Game Strategy

Chapter #4 Fine Tuning Your Middle Game Strategy

Chapter #5 Fine Tuning Your Bubble Strategy, Equilibrium In Ranges

Chapter #6 Heads-up Play, Moving From Unexploitable Play To Exploitative Play

Chapter #7 Special: How To Exploit Regulars!

Chapter #8 Special: Isolation Plays, A Look At Ranges For Regs And Fish

Chapter #9 SNG Specific Room Reviews And Finding The Softest Games

Chapter #10 Psychology, Downswings And Subtle Tilt And How To Cope

Chapter #11 The Big Wrap Up!

Chapter #1 The Importance Of Avoiding Known Winners In Numbers

One of the biggest factors in assessing your potential profitability in SNGs is the skill level of your
opponents. It makes sense that you opponents get better as you move up levels, and your
percentage return per game decreases though the higher buy-ins increase your overall hourly rate.

Here I look at the lower and middle levels, games which are often populated by several winning
multi-tablers as well as many inexperienced opponents. This chapter looks at how playing against
other winners players affects your profit expectations - even when you feel you have a profitable
edge against those other winners.

First let us briefly recap where your profit comes from in SNGs. Well, this comes from your
opponents mistakes. After all, if everyone played a mythical 'perfect' poker then over a large sample
we would all break even and the 'house' (poker sites) would be the only winner (due to their fees).

Below are simplified numbers which look at the effect of winning players at your table on your
potential ROI. While avoiding other winners every time is extremely hard, what I am hoping is that
the numbers make you aware that this makes a very big difference and so motivates you to seek
out weak opponents, and play at times where there are the most recreational players around and
(importantly) the easiest sites!

In the first example I will look at a 10 player SNG where 3 of your opponents are winning players -
they make the same number of errors as you! I will exclude rake from the calculations to keep the
numbers simple. We will look at it from 3 angles;

1) Reduced Prize Pool Accounting For The Winning Player's Profits:

10 player $10 SNG - $100 pool - on 'average' your 3 winning opponents will take home $12 each,
remaining 7 (including you) now fight over $64 / 7 = $9.1 each - your ROI = 20% so you now can
expect $1.8 + $9.1 or an average of $10.9 (so your ROI is effectively reduced to 9% after the 3
other winners have taken their average shares).

Of course this is greatly simplified - your ROI also affects the other winners, and not all losers are
equally bad and you may have a (small) edge against the other regulars. What this does show is the
large effect that playing against too many other winners can have, this reduction of 9% (from 20%
to 11% ROI) means you are taking home 45% less profit per game!!

2) Taking An Average Return From Each Player Individually To Calculate Your Total ROI.

If your imagined ROI of 20% comes from equally 9 losing players and you now put 3 winners on the
table your expected return decreases. Against 6 remaining losers you have 20% edge, against 3
winners you have 0% edge over time. So we reduce your 20% by 1/3rd to reflect your new average
against the whole table reducing your return per SNG from 20% to 13.33%.

3) Strategy Considerations Of Playing Other Winners

Winning SNG players (and especially those who have followed the Blueprint!) know that profits
come from the bubble! The key point here is that winning players make fewer (and smaller) bubble
mistakes than losers. Conversely, losing players make plenty of bubble errors - once you have a
critical mass of bad opponents at the bubble then your expectation increases dramatically (since
they are liable to bust each other, handing you their prize pool equity). I believe that having too
many winning regulars playing for the bubble is actually a bigger drain on your winnings than the
simple reduce by 1/3rd for 3 math indicates.

How Winners Hurt You Even When You Can Beat Them!

A common response on poker forums is that the key is to get better than the other winning players
improve to survive. This advice is well meant, you can certainly make more money this way,
though it is still nowhere close to the benefit you would gain from actively avoiding these regulars
in the first place.

To show you how this works in practice we introduce a super player, who is good enough to have
a positive expectation against all the other winners and show why the get better than the
regulars argument is far from being the whole story.

ROI Against Winning Players Part #2 - The Mythical 'Super Player'

First I will set the scene... 10 players, $100 prize pool (50%/30%/20%).... our mythical super-
player has a 40% ROI (not really achievable long term, this is just an example to show the
concept), Thus for every $10 invested he makes $4 profit fees are excluded as usual to keep the
numbers easy to work with.

Next let us add in 3 winners but exclude the edge against them from our super-player for now. If
we give the 3 winners a 25% ROI then $37.50 is gone from the prize pool (on average) leaving

$62.50 for the remaining 7 players or $8.90 each... our Super-Player has +40% and so makes (again
on average) $12.46 per game. His ROI with 6 average and 3 winning opponents is 24.6%.

Next let us factor in our super-players edge against the other winners. Here we have to calculate that
edge by doing the math backward from the above example.... if our super-player takes $14 from the
prize pool we have $86 left for the other 9 = $9.5 each - our 3 winners have 25% so $11.85 per game
or 18.5% ROI - thus the edge of the super player against the 3 winners is just over 6%.

Now we get to the key question - what is the true ROI of the super player vs the 3 winners and 6
losers. Well it is all in the calculations above (40% *6)+(6%*3)/9 = 28.6%

So his edge vs the winners has increased his expectation from 24.6% to 28.8%... not much when
you consider that he had 40% when these regulars he could beat were not at the table at all.

The numbers above are simplified and way too high to be real, though hopefully still demonstrate
a valid point - winning players at your SNG table are bad for your ROI - whether you are better
than them or not!

The solution is two-fold. You need to practice good table selection, that is avoid other winners
where possible. If this means spending 10 minutes making a coffee before you start to play
because 4 regs are waiting in each game then do so - your increased profits will more than make
up for it.

Secondly, some poker sites have better players - and more winning players - than others. Ask
yourself this question: Is it worth the effort to move to another site when you could be one of the
only long-term winners at your level?

I have been making this follow the fish point since part #1 of the Blueprint hopefully if words
alone were not enough to convince some readers to get moving then the math will make things
crystal clear for you!

My top suggestions for the easiest games are listed below and should give even the most
hardened multi-tablers among you more than enough games to choose from!

Chapter #2 - 2 Places To Find Fishy SNGs To Boost Your Profits

Now, my recommendation for Titan Poker stands, the trouble is that you can not always get the
volume of tables required at all times of day. So here I have 2 more sites to recommend! Well, I to
highly recommend as the next step in your SNG career, and another as a backup for those of you who
want to push forward with higher value and / or volume.

A quick reminder to US readers to check my US friendly poker sites page at SNG Planet, where I have
the latest news, reviews and specials for you.

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OnGame is a network of poker sites who are well known for having friendly and soft
games and a decent software platform too. They are ideal for players looking at add
some extra volume, or to clear another bonus and boost their bankroll that way. With
several big sports betting brands in their network, there is plenty of cross-over traffic to
keep the games soft.

One of the things I like about Red Kings (other than the choice of 6 sign-up bonuses) are the regular
promotions and offers which are aimed at the recreational crowd they keep the fish coming back, so
you can profit!

You choose from a 100% match of $250, $500 or $1000 with my bonus codes SNG250, SNG500 or
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Add In Some Extra Volume 888 Poker

888 Poker have been around since the very start (you might have known them under
the old name of Pacific Poker). This site were the big success story of 2012 and I am
tipping them to continue their good run this year. Volume is not as high as some of the
other sites, however this is more than made up for by the easy games (again cross-over
traffic is the key, this time from the huge 888 casino). I love the promos at this site, which are often
focused on gadget / sports tickets / cash give-aways rather than boring points races.

Players from many countries can get $8 completely free to check out the games, everyone gets a cool
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Taking my recommendation alone is quite enough. Your task as a profitable SNG player is to
quickly identify those players you see at the tables frequently. You should then watch their
strategy and assess who are the winners from some of the many online stats services
(Tournament Shark will also do this for you). If you just identify and make notes on a couple
of winners each time you play you will end up with a powerful advantage both avoiding
games with too many of these players and adjusting your bubble play against them will
improve your profits!!

Chapter #3 Fine Tuning Your Early Game Strategy

One of the (many) frustrating things about the lower to mid limit SNGs is that your opponents have
a tendency to call-call-call. They will call you with trash after you raise pre-flop, call you with
nothing at all on the flop, call you with a 4-out draw on the turn and then overbet the pot when
they hit their miracle card on the river.

This is a caricature of course though it comes close. This type of play is easy to profit from, what
many players miss is that making the right play is up to them it is no use at all blaming an
inexperienced opponent for playing badly after the hand. By playing the super-tight + implied
odds strategy outlined in this course you will already be benefiting from the loose-chaser type of
players very well. What this section addresses is the question Could We Adapt Even Better To
Exploit Inexperienced Opponents Early? the answer is a resounding yes!

So, here are a collection of tips which should see your returns improve, my advice is to read though
them and then take 1 or 2 per session and think about how they might apply to your game. This
gradual build can be complimented by keeping hand examples and working on them between sessions.

Early Game Tip #1 Get Super Strict With Position

Again and again you will read strategy which points out the value of position in poker. Again and
again I see players in lower level SNG tournaments routinely ignore this advice. When you are
multi-tabling it is important to keep decision making as straight forward as possible. If you like
tough decisions then try raising your ace-jack from the blinds or playing a suited connector from
under the gun!

Please, when you are fine tuning your game make some rules which fit the importance of position
into your personal style of play. I would suggest extremely strict starting hand requirements from
the first 3 positions at the table, and also from the blinds in the early stages. Take note of
aggressive opponents and play when you have position on them, not the other way around those
chips are too important for the bubble to have your continuation bet re-raised when you have no
idea where you stand!!

Early Game Tip #2 Exercise Caution When The Betting Is Open

When someone opens the pot your starting hand requirements must go up and fast. When
opening a pot you are implicitly assuming a random distribution of hands for your opponents,
when someone bets they are already reducing their range of hands significantly (by how much
depends on the individual and the circumstances of course).

A common early game mistake I see is that there is a raise, a small re-raise and then a 3rd player
flat calls. This is crazy play most of the time, the initial raiser may well re-pop the betting, and even
if not then you will need to assume that 2nd bettor had a great hand. If a pot gets 3-bet I advise
folding all non-premium hands, those few times your opponents were messing around will be
more than compensated by the time you save your entire stack. When multi-tabling and
considering calling a raise, scan to make sure the betting is not open that the original raiser cant
come in with a 4th bet!

Inexperienced players often end up playing easily dominated hands, out of position, in raised pots
a situation which is extremely easy to avoid with just a little forethought. Do make sure you make
a note of any serial 3-bettors out there, who re-raise aggressively with mid-strength hands, it will
not be too long before you get to trap them for a very big pot indeed!

Early Game Tip #3 After The Flop, Getting And Edge In Your Continuation Betting

Continuation betting refers to betting out on the flop when you took the lead in betting / raising
before the flop you are continuing with the aggression you showed before, whether or not you
hit the flop. There are several factors which influence the success rate of your continuation bets.
Bear in mind that our goal in the initial stages of a SNG is to conserve chips where possible. This
means I prefer the more cautious approach to continuation bets.

Here are those 5 key continuation bet factors (Note: I have adapted from a previous SNG Planet article
especially for the Blueprint course)

1) The Number Of Opponents: The bigger the number of opponents active in the hand on the
flop the lower the chance that your continuation bet will succeed. Against a single opponent you
can expect to win the pot more than half the time, against 4 or 5 opponents your success rate can
plummet to 20%. If you missed the flop completely 1 or 2 opponents is best, any more than this
and I am likely to check / fold a missed flop maintaining the option to use a delayed continuation
bet on a suitable turn card.

2) Larger continuation bets succeed more often yet lose you more chips when they fail. Very
small continuation bets are likely to be called often, while this diminishes as the bet gets larger
there is a statistical sweet spot between 40% to 60% of the current pot size. This gets the
maximum value as bets of this size usually induce opponents to fold, bigger (pot size or above) bets
get slightly more folds but more chips when they are called. Make sure you get a feel for the bet
sizes which are routinely called at your site, and adjust accordingly while making sure that your bet
sizing does not give away too much information on your hand to an observant opponent.

3) Calling Stations And Sharks: There are two types of opponent who are more likely to call your
continuation bet. Highly skilled players and very unskilled players! The highly skilled players will
expect you to continuation bet and will call often to see what you do on the turn. Calling Stations
(very bad players who tend to call too often) will think that their 3rd pair with no kicker is a good
enough hand to call all the way to the river be careful of both of these opponents!

4) The Number Of Potential Draws: When the flop comes with 3 suited cards, or 2 suited cards
and 2 cards to a straight, the success rate of continuation bets goes down considerably. This is
because many opponents will call your bet in the hope of getting paid off if they hit their straight
or flush. Conversely, flops that contain pairs or widely spaced unsuited cards (known as dry flops
are excellent candidates for continuation bets. These are much less likely to have hit your

5) High Cards On The Flop: The higher the flop comes the more likely your continuation bet is to
succeed against a single opponent. Flops containing an Ace are the best of all. You should often bet
out even when you do not hold an Ace yourself as your opponent will not generally call without
one. The same principle works with King and Queen-high flops. As the board gets lower your
continuation bet success rate will drop be careful on those small-card flops. High card flops
become dangerous in multi-way pots be extra cautious if you have more than 2 opponents!

Early Game Tip #4 The Donk Bet And What It Means

Here is a fun tip which can help you win a few pots! Inexperienced players have a tendency to bet
into pots when they called a raise before the flop from out of position especially from the blinds.
This is known as a donk bet and the player making it is donking into the pre-flop raiser. The reason
for such a derogatory term is that this bet rarely makes any sense, either for a good or a bad hand
or even a draw. A common situation occurs when this out of position donk bet is for the minimum,
and it signals weakness so often that you should almost always make a healthy raise whether you hit
the flop or not when you see a min-bet from someone who did not raise before the flop.

One small caveat since good players see this so often they sometimes use it to induce a raise
when they hit a monster. Here the solution is to make sure you know who the solid winners are
and note them. Proceed with caution if it is these players who make the mini-donk bet.

Early Game Tip #5 Habitual Check-Raisers

Checking and then raising is horribly over-used in all forms of poker, my view is that this is one of
the first moves players learn and they often go a little over the top in finding opportunities to
use it. If you see this happen remember to make a note, the players who like to do it will keep
doing it, and this gives you some advantages over them.

For a start you will be able to get a lot of free cards, perfect if you called with a high implied odds
hand such as a suited connector before the flop. Secondly they are ready to pounce on weakness,
which makes building a pot easier those times you do hit a good hand. Make a small bet, call their
check-raise and then re-raise their inevitable turn bet. By the time that Mr Moves figures that he
is beaten you could easily have half of his stack in the middle.

Instead of check-raising often yourself I recommend betting in a lot of situations, you will not only
win a lot of small pots uncontested, but your truly strong hands will be disguised by the frequency
of your bets. Check-raising has its place in a balanced strategy, however it has drawbacks for both
extremely strong hands and weak ones and so should be used sparingly when multi-tabling SNGs.

Early Game Tip #6 No Need To Get Tricky

Continuing with the beginners and moves theme, tip 6 is that the vast majority of your play should
be in line with the situation and strength of your hand. Many new players get so overwhelmed
with the subtlety he thinks she thinks he thinks that they end up playing backwards! Just watch
those tables and you will see lots of players who bet big when weak and small when strong. It is
almost funny to see someone who raises 4 times the blinds almost every hand suddenly mini-bet.

Most of your opponents in the lower level SNGs will be inexperienced enough to be playing their
own cards and thinking of little else. Those who are experienced are likely to be multi-tabling (like
you!) and will probably not have noticed any of your moves anyway. This means that the optimal
line is usually to get as much money as possible into the pot when you are strong, and try and keep
the pot small (or win it cheaply) when you are weak. There is no need to get tricky when multi-
tabling lower level SNGs betting the strength of your hand, with the occasional aggressive move
really is enough to make a great profit.

Chapter #4 Fine Tuning Your Middle Game Strategy

Next we come to the middle game, you are down to 6 or so opponents, with 15 to 20 big blinds in
your stack and it is time to turn up the aggression. You will see a huge amount of mistakes made in
the middle stages of SNG tournaments. In this section I will cover how to take advantage of them
in addition to some strategies for stealing a bit more than your fair share of blinds in preparation
for the bubble.

In the same format as the last chapter, a number of tips which will each improve your ROI are
outlined below. I again suggest identifying 1 or 2 of these per session to think about and
implement into your own approach to the middle stages.

Mid Game Tip #1 Odds For Calling, Odds For Raising, Implied Odds

Implied odds go way down in the middle stages of SNG tournaments. Those suited connectors,
suited aces and small pairs should not be used to call raises under most circumstances, in fact
there are now very few situations where you should be calling raises at all. If you see a raise ahead
then get into the habit of either ditching these hands or re-stealing / value re-raising with them.

An interesting perspective on the lack of implied odds is how to best profit from those players who
do not understand this and go ahead with set mining with only a potential 5-to-1 available if they
hit and get fully paid. The answer really depends on this type of players post-flop tendencies,
especially whether or not they can fold that pair of 6s on an Ace-Queen-Ten flop!

While the hands you can call raises with go down, so do the hands that your opponents can call
raises with. This leads to the situation where you can profitably raise with those same hands you
snap fold to a raise ahead. Steal light, particularly from position and against opponents you noted
as competent (either through your own observations of through a tool such as Tournament Shark).

Mid Game Tip #2 The Push Over Limpers

Note: This is another tip which I adapted from an original article at SNG Planet - the good news is that this move works
just as well as ever!

With the blinds at around 8% to 10% of your stack and 6 or 7 or so opponents still in the game
then the push over limpers can be an effective and relatively risk free way to gain chips. Here is
the kind of situation we would like to see before making this move:

You have 1400 chips and are on the button the blind is 150 and you see 2 limpers enter the pot
ahead of you. You look down to see a hand like Ace-Jack or 99. Instead of making a raise here you
simply shove all-in. If the limpers fold you just increased your stack by 525 chips (including the
blinds), if someone calls you have a hand with some nice showdown value and may well double up.
The combination of these factors giving you a nice positive expectation on the move over time.

In order to work out the math behind this strategy we need to answer 2 questions:

- How often do we expect to have a caller?

- When we are called what is our expectation against the range of hands which might limp
and then call an all-in reraise?

For the percentage of time called many factors come into play the level of SNG you are playing
will affect this though generally this will only be a small percentage of the time. After all, if
anyone had a genuine raising hand they have already had the opportunity to raise once, many of
them after seeing someone enter the pot - yet they turned it down.

For the blinds (of yet to act) the calling range is also very narrow, premium pairs and AK (maybe AQ
suited) we will give them 5% combined they have seen 2 limps and a push ahead after all.

Of course, the limpers may have been slowplaying a premium hand. How likely this is depends on
the individuals involved. The fact is that they have already shown weakness by limping rather than
raising we would expect the gap between their limping hands and those they would call a re-
raise with to be fairly wide here.

Let us work with a 10% chance of a call from the first limper and an 8% from the second. The small
differences taking into account that the second limper would probably have re-raised with many
medium pairs (10-10 for example) to avoid a multi-way pot.

The sum of these chances of being called is 23%.

So 77% of the time we win 525 extra chips with no showdown.
For the remainder of the time we need to work out how our hands fare against the range of hands
that we might be called with. The difficulty here is that (again, especially in the lower levels) we
might get a fishy call by a wide range. On the whole we would expect to see a decent hand when
called though something like 77+, AKo+ and AQ suited.

Our equity is thus:

99 44%
AJs- 36%

That is a nice percentage of wins to combine with the 77% that we win without a showdown. It
should be crystal clear that this move has a big positive expectation over time as long as it is not
over-used, since doing it 3 times in quick succession almost guarantees someone will take a stand
with their King-Ten suited!

Mid Game Tip #3 Thinking About Resealing And Fold Equity

Restealing is a powerful tool in the middle stages, and a great way of gaining chips if the
circumstances are right. This involves re-raising from the blinds or button after someone has
opened the betting with a raise. In a similar way to the push over limpers above, we are gaining
equity due to the fact that our opponents raising range is (usually) wide compared to the range of
hands they are capable of calling an all-in re-raise with.

Those times you are called you hope your hand will have enough equity to win a showdown between
35% and 40% of the time. Since the range of hands you will be called with when restealing are at the
top end, including premium pairs and big aces using hands such as suited connectors which are
live when called by ace-king (for example) often adds a few percentage points.

Ideal times to resteal depend on stack sizes (see below) and also the tendencies of your
opponents. If someone appears to raise every time it is folded to them on the button then a timely
resteal from the big blind can make them think twice about raising next time in addition to winning
you the current pot. I have more articles on this important topic over at SNG Planet.

Mid Game Tip #4 Stack Sizes Matter, Playing Those Difficult Stack Sizes

Many players struggle to play the difficult stack sizes of 12 to 18 big blinds, here you often feel
you have too many chips to shove all-in yet too few to play post flop or wish to raise pre-flop and
then fold to a re-raise. What many new players also fail to realize is that their stacks are only as big
as the biggest in the hand, if you have 30 times the blind but all of your opponents have 13 then
you are effectively playing a 13 big blind stack whenever you enter a pot this is known as the
effective stack size for that particular hand.

My advice is to scan the remaining stacks in the hand each time you consider playing a hand.
Remember that the big stacks and small stacks are the ones most likely to play back at you. Big
stacks feel (often correctly!) that they can put pressure on you, and small stacks may be desperate
enough to go with any reasonable looking hand.

In the hands of strong players stacks of 12 to 15 blinds are excellent for re-stealing with, since you
will not meet too many strong players in lower limit SNGs you can steal from this type of stack

effectively too. If you see someone re-raising more than once then take a quick note you may
have come across someone who is aware of the mid-stakes stack size dynamic, and likes using it to
their advantage (you can take advantage by inducing a resteal when you are actually strong!).

Mid Game Tip #5 Big Stack Play In The Middle Stages

Only having a big stack at the bubble can compare to the pleasures of having the chips as you get
to those tricky middle stages. The key words when it comes to playing this stack are pressure and
awareness (of your opponents). You should be raising often, attacking the mid sized stacks who are
looking to make it to the bubble. Pay attention to effective stack sizes here, if your only remaining
opponent has 7 blinds then you might as well just put them all in since if they re-raise the huge
pot odds would compel you to call anyway. Likewise some of the stacks raising into you might not
be able to fold to a re-raise before the flop (again largely due to pot odds). Unless you want to take
the worst end of a 35% / 65% or 40% / 60% showdown then be careful with your re-raising.

It can pay to identify those players who understand how stack sizes affect play and those who do
not during this stage of the tournament. Remember that a medium-stack raise from an
experienced winning regular is likely to mean a tighter range than the same raise from someone
who is less experienced.

Mid Game Tip #6 Small Stack Play In The Middle Stages

Small stack play does not give you the luxury of waiting for good cards, and there are good reasons
you should not do this. A scenario I see often is that the small stack goes from 800 to 600 chips by
blinding away, finally wins a pot and gets back to 1200, only to find the blinds higher and their
situation still desperate. Now, imagine that this same player stole 300 chips worth of blinds while
waiting and then doubled to 2200. This stack is often enough to make everyone think twice
about calling when the bubble comes giving the short stack the opportunity to steal pots at this
crucial time.

My suggestion is that you should be attacking the medium sized stacks, there are often one or two
players whose stack would be severely dented by losing 800 chips be prepared to shove into
their blinds before you blind away yourself, this will show a greater profit over time.

Chapter #5 Fine Tuning Your Bubble Strategy, Equilibrium In Ranges

A quick recap on the central concepts of our approach to the bubble, in case anyone needed
a refresher!

- We are not playing to win, or playing to cash, we are making decisions which maximize our
prize pool equity over and over again.

- These decisions are driven by the math behind the Independent Chip Model, you need to
have a tool such as SNG Wiz to calculate this.

- In order to get good data out of our ICM calculator we need to put our opponents on
reasonable ranges.

- The ranges of hands people play at the bubble change when they understand the dynamics
we are describing here!!

So far so good, in the lower level SNGs you only need to play a mathematically solid game your
opponents will make errors that will pay your hourly wages!

It follows that most of the tips below concern giving accurate ranges to your opponents and
exploiting situations where stack sizes allow you to get an advantage. First of all, I will talk a little
about equilibrium:

Bubble Profit Tip #1 - Equilibrium In Bubble Ranges:

In this example there are two thinking players, each understand ICM and know that the other one
also understands this. Note that the real numbers will vary depending on exact stack sizes and
player ranges I have once again simplified the numbers in order to make the point clearly!

Player A is in the small blind and decides he can profitably push a range of 80% of hands with 8 big
blinds, since B, who is in the big blind will only call with the top 10% of holdings.

However, B knows that A knows he will only call with 10% and thus knows that A can push with
80%. Player B can use the math to work out that he can actually profitably call with 25% of hands
exploiting As assumption to his benefit.

Next we consider that A might work out that B will really call with 25%, since B knows that A will
push 80%. A can then counter this strategy by only pushing 65%, getting a profitable edge against
Bs 25% calling range.

We could carry on here, though I am sure you get the picture at some point in this chain of he
knows, she knows, he knows we reach a balance point, an equilibrium in the ranges. I recommend
that you go through 4 or 5 levels of a scenario above with SNG Wiz you will notice that the ranges
get gradually closer together.

Of course, this is all very well in theory, what we need to ask is: What are the practical

If we stick to the first couple of levels you should be able to profit from this idea fairly fast.
Regulars will often push into you too light once they see you in enough games to see you as a
thinking regular yourself. Since they assume you will not call wide, their pushing range increases,
make sure you calculate your expanded calling range against this kind of play at various different
stack size levels, you will be able to profit from it!!

Conversely, once you are known your pushing range into a good opponent can tighten - just a
little this will exploit the fact that they are assuming your will be pushing wide. As with
everything in poker, you might need to readjust once people figure your pattern!

The rest of this chapter comprises some general bubble play tips.

Bubble Profit Tip #2 Keeping The Bubble Alive!

Here is another tip adapted from a SNG Planet article, when the situation is right you can literally
own the bubble by keeping an ultra-short stack alive!

Sometimes a tiny stack at the bubble can give you the opportunity to take chips from your medium
stacked opponents. The idea is that the medium stacks do not want to go out in 4th while there is
still a tiny stack at the table and as a big stack you use this fact to your advantage!

Here is an example of such a situation. Your stack is big enough that losing a hand to either of the
medium stacks still leaves you with a comfortable chip lead. The very small stack is immediately
to your left and is almost all-in by posting the big blind. In this example we assume that the blinds
are 300 and 150 (chips shown before posting the blinds).

C/O: 2100
Button: 2100

Small Blind (You!): 7500
Big Blind: 500
In this situation you can strongly consider folding your small blind to the small stack even if you
are dealt a strong hand He will then have 650 chips and you 8350. You give up the chance to bust
the small stack because you can create an even more favorable situation by repeatedly raising the
other guys! In this example you can raise enough to put the medium stacks all-in on the next 2
hands. A net gain of 900 chips.

It is not just the immediate gain in chips which is the important factor here. Once the bubble does
burst and you arrive in the money places you may well have an even bigger chip lead than before.
Each chip you take while the bubble is still going gives you a greater chance of getting 1st place later.

One thing you need to be careful with is making sure that your opponents have enough
understanding of bubble play to make this work. If the medium stacked players are oblivious to
anything but their own two cards then this less effective, since they will be happy to play mid-
strength hands and not be following a traditionally tight bubble strategy.

Bubble Profit Tip #3 Adjusting To The Position Of The Big Stack

It is always useful to ask where will my chips come from? as you approach each bubble. One
particular issue occurs when you have the big stack to your immediate left, which can make it
more difficult to steal those times you are folded to.

There are times when you can anticipate this situation during the middle stages. For example if
someone doubles up early and then wins a pot or two during the mid-stage against timid
opponents it can quickly become apparent that you have a bubble problem in the making! Here is
can become worthwhile making an aggressive move against the remaining players, for example
being more willing to resteal, to give yourself enough chips to threaten the big stack if not with
elimination then at least with a stack swap later down the line.

Remember, many players with big chip-stacks do not want to take the worst of it for no reason.
You can definitely give them a looser bubble calling range than a mid-stack, though you might be
pleasantly surprised by the number of hands you can still profitably call.

Bubble Profit Tip #4 That Looks Unusual!

Just as many new poker players get tricky in the early stages, many will help you to define their
ranges at the bubble by suddenly making an out of character bet. The easiest to spot is when

someone who has pushed all-in several times suddenly makes a small raise (mini-raise being the
favorite) instead. Alarm bells should be ringing here.

This can also be used as an elaborate bluff, I do not recommend this to be honest, you can make
plenty of money playing the numbers game without second guessing yourself in these situations
though the more adventurous among you might like to try this move!

Bubble Profit Tip #5 When $ev Fold Is Higher Than It Seems

The expected value of folding is the baseline from which we can decide whether a move has a
positive or negative return. There are situations where your expectation in prize pool equity from
folding is actually positive and sometimes significantly positive.

When your opponents are crazy, pushing all-in and calling all-ins hand-after-hand, you may be
confident that the bubble will burst without you. In this example you might have an advantage of a
couple of dollars (percentage points) per round, just from the equity benefit of this craziness. This is
one of the rare situations I would consider turning down a small positive edge according to the
numbers, giving up a little ev today to have more tomorrow. The edge would have to be very small
for me to give it up, something inside me just makes leaving even the smallest amount of prize pool
equity on the table a painful experience!

Bubble Profit Tip #6 The Cooperation Play, When To Cooperate And When To Push!

Another tip adapted and improved from a SNG Planet article, well we do have the biggest
collection of top quality SNG articles anywhere online!! This concerns when the time is right to
cooperate with your opponents and check down to ensure that the bubble bursts a common
and profitable move!

There are times where it makes more sense to check than to bet even if this means committing
the poker crime of giving an opponent a free card with which to beat you. The main example
occurs at the bubble (or close to it) in a SNG when a small stack is all-in.

This article will explain why checking a hand down with another large stack can be more
profitable than betting out and also explain when not to check down!

Here is a common situation in a Sit N Go tournament with 4 players remaining and the standard 3
player 20 / 30 / 50% payout structure:

Player 1: 4000 Chips

Player 2: 400 Chips

Player 3: 3000 Chips (after posting the small blind of 100)
Player 4 (You): 2500 Chips (after posting the big blind of 200)
The action is as follows: Player 1 folds, player 2 goes all-in for 400 chips, player 3 calls and you look
down to see 6-8 off suit.

This is a perfect situation to call the 200 chips with the intention of checking the hand down with player
3. The initial call is largely based on the pot-odds (you are calling 200 chips to see a pot of 1000 so
getting 5-1). However there is another reason to call here, under normal circumstances Player 3 will
cooperate with you in maximizing the chance to eliminate player 2 by checking the hand down.

By doing this you increase the chances that Player 2 will be eliminated and that you both move into
the money paying places. Betting, especially with a weak or vulnerable hand, may result in a
situation where a hand that could have beaten player 2 in a showdown folds on the flop. Now
when Player 2 wins the hand there are still 4 players actively competing for the 3 paying places.

Exercise: Think about the above scenario in terms of prize pool equity, estimating how much you
have before the hand and then after you successfully eliminate player 2.

Chapter #6 Heads-up Play, Moving From Unexploitable Play To
Exploitative Play

My advice earlier in the course was to give yourself a grounding in the SAGE heads-up system. This
will teach you how to play unexploitably, ensuring that your play cant be manipulated. This
ensures you will win your fair share of games according to the relative size of your chip stack to
that of your opponent.

Now you have the basics understood (and hopefully memorized!) we can move on to some

Here is the basic logic: In order to take advantage of your opponent, you need to diverge from the
safe unexploitable play and adjust to take advantage of their weaknesses. By moving away from
the play suggested by SAGE you will be opening your own play to being exploited by a savvy
opponent. Fortunately, the opponents you meet in lower level SNGs will be nowhere near good
enough to take advantage think of it this way, if they were this good they would have moved
away from lower level SNGs by now!

Let us look at some simple examples, if an opponent is ultra-tight and you stick to pushing all in
only with the safe SAGE-determined ranges then you are probably giving them too many free
walks in the blinds. In order to take advantage of them you need to be raising with a wider range.
This might make your play exploitable, since your wide range could be called profitably more often.
However, unless you raise every single time the timid player will likely remain timid giving you an
extra edge and thus more profit over time.

Exercise: What deviation from SAGE would you make to best exploit a player whose tendency was
to call too many bets, but not bet out or raise without a strong hand?

I am sure that using some of the logic we already discussed in this course you can work out how to
adjust to players who call too often and those who are likely to do different things with their
strong hands and weak hands.

Chapter #7 Special: How To Exploit Regulars!

You will undoubtedly come across the same players again and again while earning your $16 per
hour at the SNG tables. This chapter contains a few additional thoughts on how to take advantage
of their strategy which of course is similar to yours.

Well, firstly you need to know whether they have a solid strategy or are actually just breakeven or
weak players who like to play a lot of games. A tool such as Pro Poker Labs Tournament Shark will
give you this information in a special chart which attaches to your table. I recommend this for
players who are serious about making a long-term profit.

Once you come across a winning regular, many of the ways to win some chips from them are the
reverse of the strategies you will be employing yourself. During the early stages you know their
range of hands will be tight, so unless you have a great implied odds situation the best thing you
can do is stay out of their way. If the situation is reversed and a regular calls your raise then you
should continuation bet most of the time, if called it is easy to shut down completely in the hand
though you will win the pot immediately more often than against a weaker more cally opponent.

Mid stage strategy is different, a good regular will be raising light when folded to in a steal
position, and will have a very tight range of hands when there is action ahead. This gives you
potential for re-steal opportunities. I recommend that you do not over do this move. Once you are
marked as a regular re-stealer your opponent will raise your blind tighter and call you wider,
nullifying your advantage.

During the middle stages you can often steal blinds from regular players with smaller bets than usual.
Again, they will be forming an opinion of your play at the same time as you are theirs so as long as
you do not do the same thing every time you should be able to win those vital mid-stage pots.

We spoke about calling and shoving ranges at the bubble many times throughout this course. By now
the mantra of regulars will call tighter and shove lighter should be ingrained into your brains! If you
do not take the time to learn what you can profitably call with against wider ranges using your ICM
calculator and making the adjustments at the table you will be leaving some money on the tables!

Chapter #8 Special: Isolation Plays, A Look At Ranges For Regs And Fish

Another special situation which is worth thinking about and can win you some chips! Often you will
find situation after a big hand where there is a micro-stack (or just a reasonably short one) at the
table. These stacks tend to shove their remaining few blinds into the pot with a very wide range. As
an aside I recommend discipline if this happens to you, try and fight back, as it only takes a couple
of successful comebacks over a month to make a nice difference to your overall profits the old
poker saying of A Chip And A Chair has personally worked out for me many times in the past!

Anyway, what you will find is that people try and isolate these small stack all-ins, either by raising
or flat calling. Here is a difference at the lower levels which I noted with the hands used to do this:

- A Good Player: A good player will often flat call with their very strong hands (aces, kings etc)
hoping that someone else wakes up with a hand and reraises behind them. The same player
would raise, often all in, with their second tier hands, strong aces and mid-pairs recognizing
that these hands do well against the next hand shove of the short stack, but do not really
want anyone else involved in the pot.

- An Inexperienced Player: In the same situation will tend to do exactly the opposite. They will
flat call with their mid-strength hands, and raise (often a small amount) with their premium

Seeing this pattern should give you some ideas about how to adjust your own play to exploit this,
especially the weaker ranges of the inexperienced players. You might be able to get heads-up with
the all in player with a reasonable hand and huge odds of 2.5-to-1 or more including the blinds Ill
take those kind of odds all day long!

Chapter #9 SNG Specific Room Reviews And Finding The Softest Games

Throughout this course I have been repeating the mantra Avoid Winners, Find Soft Games! I
figured that a great addition to the Blueprint would be a short chapter giving some summaries
from my unique SNG Focused Room Reviews over at SNG Planet. These will allow you to get a
good idea of what you can expect at the different rooms, without the usual hype that you get at
many poker information sites!

These mini-reviews are in the order I would suggest aspiring $16 per hour players to check them
out. I will include links and would genuinely appreciate you using my links and codes for any sites
you decide to join as an appreciation for the time and effort getting this course together! The
following summarize both the pros and cons of some of the best poker sites around.

#1 Top Choice Titan Poker

Titan Poker was the site I recommended from the start of the course there is a lot to recommend
about this site for beginners, and as part of the iPoker Network, Titan is part of the 3rd largest
online poker site around.

The Key Pro is the fact that you will find a lot of recreational players having fun there these are
long-term losers who are treating poker as entertainment and do not have much hope of winning
long term. Sure, you get a few regulars however the recent split of the network with the big
sports betting brands (including Titan) forming their own top tier (iPoker2) means it is easier to
avoid these players than ever.

For cons, well the software is not the best around (though of course you can argue that this
allows you to focus on the players better!). There are too many boxes which require an ok when
starting a game for my taste once you are playing the tables can be resized and run great.

On balance the fish + great promos / bonuses make this a clear top choice for players who are
building up a SNG bankroll. My special bonus is 200% match to your first deposit (max. $2000) +
$20 in free cash (deposit of $30+ required for the cash, which I ensure is paid direct to your player
account within 48 hours), use bonus code BLUEPRINT when you register to claim this.

Ctrl + Click Here Now To See The Soft Titan Poker SNGs For Yourself!!

#2 Need More Lower Buy-In SNGs The Awesome Red Kings Poker!

Red Kings make a great choice for players who would like to add a few more games to their
sessions, yet are not ready for the high-value + high-volume world of the pro SNG grinder quite
yet. As part of the OnGame Network, Red Kings offer serious volume mainly at the $11 and
below with the $22s picking up in the evenings and weekends.

Again the main draw is recreational players. Im not knocking them by the way there are millions
of people worldwide who enjoy the occasional game without having aspirations to be the next
Phil, and that is often a healthy life / poker balance!

What we can do is enjoy the softer games, regular promos and focus on recreational player
specials that Red Kings give us... Remember the choice of bonus code SNG250, SNG500 and
SNG1000 for welcome bonuses between $250 and $1000!

Ctrl + Click To Check Out The Awesome Red Kings Poker Now!!

That is enough recommendations for the moment you can view more reviews over at SNG
Planet along with information on the latest US friendly sites, deposit options and promos too!

Chapter #10 Psychology, Downswings, Subtle Tilt And How To Cope

This is actually the chapter I wish I had the opportunity to read many years ago when I first started
playing online poker. Poker psychology can mean many things to different people, here I will focus
on depersonalizing situations - and the subtle forms of Tilt which can easily destroy the bankroll of
even the most level headed individuals. I will also cover the horror which is a prolonged
downswing, and briefly discuss some strategies to deal with it.

When that same guy in the 3 seat re-raises your open for the 3rd time it can be a natural reaction
to jam all-in with that mid-strength hand to show that you cant be pushed around. When he calls
with a premium and busts you then you got unlucky and will get him back next time, right?

I have felt this same frustration, you will surely feel it at some point along the way it takes people
with the patience of a saint to not react when things like this occur. Yet you have to learn to do it
to become a successful player over time. The same goes for someone criticizing you in the chat
box, for someone who flat calls every time you raise and so on.

Start by turning off the chat, the (slim) benefit you will get from identifying fish is not worth the
distraction of bad-tempered fish moaning that the poker sites are rigged against them. Turn off any
avatars on the screen too, you are playing a numbers game after all. Next, when you get re-raised a
lot or flatted once too often, save the hand history and review it later. Instead of worrying about
asserting your authority, try to work out the types and ranges of hands which your opponent is
doing this with and figure a way to beat them. If the math says fold then fold, emotions like
anger and frustration are very destructive in poker, you must learn to ignore them.

Frustration And Tilt

Of course, the most obvious expression of any frustration is Tilt where your anger causes you to
deviate from any form of good strategy and push edges that actually do not exist instead. I
touched on this is part 3, here I wanted to expand a little bit and mention that the big angry tilt is
not the only way of letting emotions get the better of you.

There are two more subtle forms which I would like to mention. Firstly, there is revenge type tilt,
in which you might overplay hands against a particular person who put a bad beat on you to get
even. Calling with medium hands hoping to hit monsters and running bluffs which make no
mathematical sense has no place in SNG strategy, save them for your home games! Finally there is

a despondent tilt in which players feel so strongly they will lose that their play becomes passive
and weak, leading (you guessed it) to them losing more hands thus forming a vicious circle. While
this course is not the place to discuss individual cures, simply being aware of each of these emotional
responses can really help to maintain your bankroll those times you feel them coming on!

Finally for this chapter, downswings. The thing about poker is that these happen to the very best
players in the world, they come at any time and they can go on for a frustratingly long time too.
Even if your strategy is excellent, with +$ev moves only at the bubble and a solid early game
approach, the variable deal of the cards can hit you hard and will at some point in your career.

Once again, awareness of the fact winning players can hit downswings is a great start. If this
happens to you I would advise stepping up your efforts to check your hand histories, particularly
big decisions at the bubble. If you find a leak or two that is great though the main objective here
is simply to assure yourself that you are making the right decisions. Finally, do not be afraid to
move back down the levels if your bankroll takes a dent. There is no shame attached to working
back up from a lower level, in fact the majority of todays pros have been broke at some point in
their careers!

Chapter #11 The Big Wrap Up And Next Steps!

Time to wrap it all up, bring together the pieces, and then leave you to get on with the all
important task of bankroll building. Let me summarize the key points from each section to
refresh your memory:

Part #1: The Blueprint:

Here I introduced how we were going to reach the goal of making $16+ per hour by playing several
tables, focusing on getting to the bubble with enough chips to make opponents fold and
understanding the concept of prize pool equity in a general form.

Mistakes made by opponents at different stages of the game were detailed, including counter
strategies. One of the key concepts of profitable SNG Play putting your opponents on ranges of
hands was introduced in part #1.

Part #2: Becoming A Bubble Ninja

Better understanding bubble play and prize pool equity modeling via the Independent Chip Model
was the goal of this part of the course. I put this one early to ensure that you were able to
understand and implement the adjustments required while only playing 2 or 3 tables. The idea
being that by the time we added more tables the basics of ICM would be starting to become
second nature.

As well as going into detail on how your opponents style of play might affect their bubble hand
ranges, this section included several examples to start you off. I also strongly recommended you
use the tool SNG Wiz to analyze your own bubble play and create a virtuous circle of

Part #3: Turn Up The Volume

Once you have a solid strategy and insight into how to profit from the bubble the next step is to
add a few more tables. While the amount you win per game goes (slightly!) down, the extra
volume of games makes you significantly more money per hour. My advice here covered the

practicalities of multi-tabling and some strategy adjustments designed to keep your decisions post-
flop as simple as possible.

Part #4: SNG Profits Booster

This part of the course contains tips and moves which incrementally add to your profits. I saved
this until last for good reasons too many players learn the moves without having a solid grasp of
the fundamentals. Once you can articulate where your profits are coming from both in general
terms and in how you plan to extract chips from individual players you are in a much stronger
position to use the tips and strategies outlined here for bigger profits.

Next Steps: Moving On From The $16 Per Hour Blueprint!

Once you have digested this last part of the course I recommend moving to 8-tables. Handling this
many games, especially for the first time, means that it will be difficult to implement all of the
strategy tips and insights covered at once. Choose one from the early game, mid game and bubble
portions of the above tips per session instead, and make thinking about these tips in the context of
the games you are playing the priority. You will be surprised how quickly many of them will
become part of your everyday routine.

You will also need to move up levels this week, to ensure your average buy-in gives you the
opportunity to reach our $16 / hour goal. If you choose some of the more recreational sites then
the $20+$2 games should be even softer so do not ignore the importance of searching for sites
where your profits are biggest. Depending on your starting bankroll, spending one extra week in
the smaller buy-in SNGs might well be valuable. This could allow you to build a bankroll cushion
for a more confident move up later.

Key to your long term profits is the willingness to spend some time improving your own game and
keeping your bubble play sharp. SNG Wiz is excellent for those bubble situations, though is only
useful if you use it. Rather than guess at the bubble and have good results, the best players keep
fine-tuning and end up with excellent results.

Finally, make sure you come back to SNG Planet often I have built up the largest collection of
quality strategy articles for SNGs, Satellites and Tournaments anywhere online and will continue
to add more.

Your feedback is always appreciated to support@sngplanet or our Facebook group at - GL at the tables,