How to Beat Heads-Up Sit'n Go Tournaments

Why on earth would you play heads-up sit'n gos?

Play Heads-up Sit and Gos to Make Easy Money

The reason why there is good money in these heads-up sit'n go tourneys can be summarized by the three steps in the evolution of the online poker player.

  1. Beginner stage: this online player tries different forms and variations of online poker randomly; so he may end up in the heads-up sit and go section and if he likes it, he could stick there for a long time, and lose money until he goes to another section.
  2. Intermediate stage: this online player remembers that it is very tough to be profitable in heads up sit and gos from his early experience; he now prefers full ring of short-handed tables, both in tournaments or ring games, as this is fashionable.
  3. Advanced stage: this online player realizes that he is strong enough to beat the average competitor at heads-up sit'n gos; he becomes a specialist at it, and plays higher and higher buy-ins.

The majority of the players at this form of sit and go are novice or weak players who do not realize how much skill is required and how much they lack of it. If they play against another weak player, the result is a coin flip, so it seems to them that they are doing relatively well given their newbie status.

Gambling type players in particular have no idea what true poker skill is and they play heads-up like they play the roulette. If you are a solid player (and you must be or you will be if you are reading strategy articles like this one), you make money by playing against these weaker players.

PokerStars Sit and Gos

The ABC of Heads-up Sit and Gos

This is a unique poker format requiring unique type of plays.

The small blind is also the button who will have the positional advantage post flop, so it is the small blind who either raises of folds as the first to act pre flop. He could also limp, but this is the least recommended action.

The big blind has to respond to the action of the small blind, and he should fold often as he will have the disadvantage to be first to play in all post flop streets. He should nevertheless 3-bet infrequently, both with strong and weak hands.

Failing to 3-bet enough is a fatal leak. Because if your opponent 3-bets you, and force you to fold because you made a systematic raise without a good hand, he will have won a 4 blinds pot with no real action. You must 3-bet as well, just to compensate. This is the trivial reason why you must 3-bet in heads-up Sit and Gos.

This is how warfare develops between the two blinds. Another reason to 3-bet is to analyze the playing style of you opponent and to test his reactions. If he tends to fold most of the time to a 3-bet, he is a passive-straightforward player. As such, he is easy to dominate and well timed aggression should progressively grind his stack away.

On the contrary, if he tends to call or even to 4-bet, he is a dangerous loose-aggressive player, possibly a maniac if he reraises or moves all in. If so he should still be beatable, but his playing style will imply wilder swings no matter what. There is no way to control variance against this type of player, because if you play too timidly, your stack will decrease steadily.

Heads-up Sit and Go Tournament Tips

Here are a few more tips on how to beat heads-up sit'n gos when you play Texas Holdem.

The reason why you can take a wait and see attitude at the beginning is that these tourneys start deep stacked. Usually the stacks are 1500 chips with blinds 10/20. With 75 big blinds, it costs nothing to be patient at the start of the match.

Note that drawing hands cannot be played like in full ring, as you will never get the correct pot odds to call with straight or flush draws. Unlike in a multiway hand, you must contribute 50% of the pot for all hands, so the potential profit is never enough.

The way to play draws will have to be either as an aggressive play generating fold equity, or possibly as a call for a small amount of chips, if the implied odds and the depth of the stacks justify that call. This play is like investing now in hope of a future return later.

Avoid coin flips, especially pre flop. Everyone knows that the weapon of the beginner against the pro is to shove preflop, as this is the optimal way to deny the pros their skill. As you can only grind a consistent profit in heads-up sit and gos by your superior poker skills, you must avoid the situation purely determined by luck, and use patience to progressively dominate your opponent.

Do not fail to continuation bet, even if you miss. As your opponent will miss about 2/3 of the time, it is recommended to bet size 2/3 of the pot. This also keeps the pot at a reasonable size overall.

Play depending on your relative stack size. If you are ahead, wait for a mistake by your opponent. If you are behind, be more aggressive and shove pre flop with good cards.

For information, the poker room with the most active sit'n gos is pokerstars. There is virtually no waiting time as thousands of them take place simultaneously.

PokerStars Sit and Gos