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There are four stages in a SnG that you should have a well thought out plan for. We will go through each stage one by one so by the end you should have developed a solid plan of action.

The four stages are


Early Stages

Right at the start of a SnG is when most people make the mistake of being overly aggressive when there really is no need. You should really think about the starting stack sizes and starting blind levels. Most sites start with around 1500 in chips and at the 10/20 level, so the amount of play you have available to you is bigger than it will ever be all tournament. This doesn’t mean it is ok to bluff every other hand, this means it is ok to play speculative hands in small pots pre-flop as these are the hands where you can flop big,disguised hands. Speculative hands include

Though beware that if the pot starts growing fast pre-flop, you should get out of there with these type of hands. Add these together with your range of strong hands and you should have a solid early stage strategy.


Middle Stages

This is where the blind levels start to effect your stack size, usually around level 5 of the SnG. It is generally a wise move to scrap the early stages plan of playing speculative hands as raising/raising all-in becomes more and more common and we can’t really afford to give away chips lightly. If you have around 10BBs or less then any hand you want to raise with should really be an all-in raise, mainly because of the stack size we would have if we were to later fold after our normal 3BB raise. If we are first in the pot we should be raising or folding.

Any strong hand pre-flop or any big flop draw should be played aggressively as passive play once some chips are committed could leave you short stacked.


Cliffs


Bubble Play

Your plan here largely depends on your chip stack. If you happened to be a big chip leader and you are against 3 other players who are looking to scrape into the money then you should be shoving all-in every hand. You will steal a lot of blinds and when the bubble does burst, you will have that many chips that you will almost have the tournament won.

If your chip stack is around average then you really need to pick your spots well as you will need to bluff at times. Considering your opponents chip stacks. If one player is really short and folds before you act then shoving almost any two is never such a bad idea as the rest of the table should also be aware of this short stack and will, therefore, tighten up their range.

If you are the short stack then you should be shoving a wide range to try and regain some sort of foothold in the tournament.. Your shoving range could look like


Money Play

Once you are in the money (assuming top 3 are paid), you should really up the aggression so that you will either be busted in 3rd or go into the heads-up stage as a comfortable chip leader. The reason being is the difference in money between 1st and 2nd is significantly bigger than the difference between 2nd and 3rd. So it would be more beneficial finishing 3rd from  trying to hit that heads-up stage with the chip lead which if successful, should get you a 1st place finish a decent percentage of the time.


Cliffs

1 TABLE 9MAN (FULL RING)
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