Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Change of Habit

All Sit N Go's are not created equal. Unfortunately we live in a world where every poker site seems to have a different structure. Some rooms may start with 1,500 chips while others make it 800. Some might have 10 minute blinds while others have 8. Then we get into the structure in which the blinds increase. There seems to be an endless array of choices, or endless supply of headaches, depending on how you look at.

A side effect of all these choices is that each has to be played a little differently. If any of you recall, at the end of last year I was playing almost exclusively SNG's at PokerStars. I found that to maximize my profit I would run the SNG's in sets of three. All three would be started up at about the same time and I wouldn't start any more until I had finished the last one. This was working well for me.

At the beginning of this year I moved my SNG play to Full Tilt. Why? I was clearing a bonus and Full Tilt offers me an incentive that PokerStars doesn't. Now there isn't a whole lot of difference between the PokerStars and Full Tilt SNG's. Each has a starting chip stack of 1,500 and each also has 9 player fields. The difference lies in the blind structure. Full Tilt's increases a little more rapidly but it also features more levels. This leads to a flatter structure where you can sit back and wait longer for premium hands. At the end of the tournament though, the action is a little faster so stealing becomes even more important.

My experience at PokerStars showed me that generally it was easier (this may me due to the level of competition as much as the structure) to obtain a dominant chip stack by the time 4 players were left. This meant that you didn't have to begin exerting real pressure on your opponents until you were down to 4 players. With everyone fearful of not making the money it was generally easy to steal at this point, regardless of where the blinds were in relation to the stacks.

At Full Tilt I've found that when you reach the final 4 or 5 the stacks are generally pretty even. Stealing needs to begin occurring when your down to 5 players at this site. With the chips being spread out more evenly any one hand can give someone the dominant stack. That stack needs to be you.

Also starting 3 tables at a time and waiting for the round to finish wasn't working for me at Full Tilt. I tried different rotations and I've discovered starting 2 tables works best for me. I also no longer need to wait for both to finish before starting up another. If I happen to bust out early I can now just fire up another one. The flatter structure allows me to spend more time with the table I'm further along on, without sacrificing play at the new one. Since going to this rotation I've found my ROI sky rocket. I'm now doing better at Full Tilt than I was at PokerStars.

If you find yourself struggling with a new structure at a new site, don't be afraid to mix things up. It's trial and error. Once you find the right combination it becomes well worth it. I'm sure that I could have eventually changed my game to fit what I was doing at PokerStars, but I would be sacrificing needed profit in the mean time.