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Single Table Tournament Strategy | General Issues | Early Play | Middle Play | End Game | Conclusion

STT Strategy - General Issues

In some ways an STT has more in common with a ring game than with an MTT. All you control in an MTT is the level of the stake. After that, the tournament software takes over, giving you new tables and new opposition on a regular basis. But for an STT, all of the general advice on game selection and seating becomes applicable again. Save for elimination, your opponents and position are fixed for the entire tournament, and there is definite advantage (and disadvantage) in your choices.

Chip Stack Sizes
How many chips you start with is a huge consideration, because of the implications it has for strategy.  The more chips and the slower the blinds raise, the greater edge to the good tournament player.  Short stack tournaments with quick blind escalation typically turn into crap shoots very quickly with players just shoving their chips in with abandon.  Absolute Poker has one of the better stack size starts (1500) with slow blind increase.   Party Poker starts a player with 2000 chips, but the blinds start a bit higher as well.

While a good player can turn a profit in just about any sit and go environment over time, if you will scout the various online poker sites for stack size and blinds schedules, you can pick one that gives a distinct advantage to the astute poker player.

Don’t enter STT’s where the stake will affect your play. If the stakes are too high, you'll choke when it comes time to make that essential bluff or call.  If the stakes are too low, tilt can creep in.  Basically, if it isn’t worth winning then don’t enter.

Seat Choice
There’s loads of conflicting advice on seat selection. A positive approach to this advice is to assume it is all right … for someone. Read the advice, but apply it to your own game. For some, being to the right of a maniac destroys their game; fear has them folding anything other than AA. If that is you, keep track of any maniacs playing on your site, and avoid sitting in the wrong place. Other people love a maniac, ignoring short term variance and reaping the long term rewards of playing better cards than your opponents. Whichever you are, player records will help you in the long run.  Check out our strategy section on Poker Animals for an easy method to characterize your opponents.

Sometimes, you’ll be dealt hands that win an STT on their own. But don’t count on it. More often you will have to make something from marginal hands to get into the money. This means observing your opponents’ tendencies is critical to success. If you do nothing else, pay close attention to anyone easily scared off a pot - when the going gets tough, their blinds will be easiest to steal.

No. of Tables
Playing multiple tables for ring games is almost a must for anyone other than the beginner. Boredom is a bigger threat to most than basic playing errors and so multiple tables reduces tilt. For STT’s, by all means play multiple tables but you should accept that for most, this will reduce your profit from the games you play in. Grasping the betting patterns/tendencies of your opponents is essential in the latter stages of an STT, and you only have a short time to learn. More than two tables is a real stretch of your resources.

To get your name in lights then stick to MTT’s. If you love big pots then no limit ring games have all you need. To make money from STT’s, you should keep records. A simple spreadsheet with a page for each type/stake of tourney will soon give you a feel for which is your best game and what you can expect to make from it. Also record how often you are reaching the money, and how your winnings are made up. Remember, there is a big premium for winning an STT, and coming third each time you play will not make you much money.

Single Table Tournament Strategy | Page 2 of 6 | Early Play