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How to Win 180 Man Turbo SNGs

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The 180-man turbo sit and go’s on PokerStars are fun tournaments to play, for both amateurs and pros alike. They have an extremely top-heavy payout structure which allures many beginner and part time players since so much money can be made with so little investment. Full time players like the 180s for the same reason combined with the fact that they’re turbos (higher hourly rate) and that the field is so heavily concentrated with fish.

The biggest negative to 180-man SNGs is the fact that they’re like miniature tournaments. They will have the largest of all swings in comparison to other sit and gos (50 buy-in downswings are common) and you can easily go several sessions where all you do is min-cash, or not cash at all. Because of this, players will need to have solid bankroll management skills.

So, the point of this article is to show you how to profitably play the 180-man turbos. This guide should help you minimize the negatives of higher variance and min-cashes and maximize how often you reach the final table so you’re sure to have a higher hourly rate.

Pre Ante (Levels < 100/200)

The strategy used for most of the levels before antes are in play will be similar to that outlined in our 45-man guide. You will want to play fairly tight, sticking only to the very top of your range. I will generally open up all of my pocket pairs, KQ and AT+. I am willing to stack off preflop with AQ+ and JJs+ depending on if my decision to get it in is versus a random or a regular.

My strategy will start to differ somewhat from my 45-man guide once the blinds reach the 50/100 mark. Around this stage I like to open up a little bit because starting stacks are only 1500, so if you have yet to pick up a hand you were able to double up with, you’ll have to start playing push/fold poker the next time the blinds go up (75/150).

My exact preflop hand range is somewhat difficult to explain though since what hands I open up with is so player and stack dependent. But just to give you an idea, my range will include many ace rags and broadways when I’m in later position. This will fluctuate depending on stack sizes left to act after me – the deeper I am, the wider I will open since I won’t be priced in to call if someone re-shoves on me and if the players to my left have shallow stacks, my range will be tighter since I may have to call an all-in if I’m shoved on.

Post Ante (Levels > 100/200/25)

Post ante is where your game will need to start getting more aggressive so you can start to accumulate more chips. Failure to do so will end up with you bubbling or min cashing more often than final tabling. Not only that, but since these 180s have blinds that move up faster, accumulating a stack will help you avoid being constantly short and resorting to playing push/fold poker.

With that being said, here are a few things that I do to build my stack:

  • Min-raise. As fishy as this may sound, there are several great things about min-raising verses the standard 2.25x to 3x preflop raise:
  1. If you have to fold when stealing preflop, you lose less.
  2. Min-raising enables you to play ‘small ball.’ You keep pots smaller, which make post flop maneuvering much easier.
  3. Min-raising makes it difficult for some stacks to re-ship without their re-ship being an over-shove.

Min-raising is simply a great way to build a stack with minimal risk. It’s also a great way to keep from jeopardizing your equity in the tournament each time you have to raise/fold.

  • Steal. I steal rather frequently when antes are in play because the antes create so much dead money. When you pick up a pot that has blinds plus antes in it, this is often equal to as much as 20% of your overall stack – a very hefty increase.

As I mentioned above, it’s difficult to outline a range of hands to steal with. So the best thing I can suggest is that your stealing range should be wide when you have fewer reship stacks at the table and/or tight players left to act. Your stealing range will need to narrow if you have loose players or stacks that are inclined to re-ship on your open.

  • Squeezing. Squeezing is a play where someone opens and maybe there is a limper or two (creating dead money) and then you 3bet or shove (depending on your stack size) in attempt to fold everyone out and pick up a massive pot.

I squeeze often. Anytime there is at least 10% or more of my total stack in the pot, I consider shoving (unless a 3bet makes more sense). It is important that you think you have fold equity before you make this play, as you don’t really want to find yourself in a race situation. The more fold equity you think you have, the wider your squeezing range can be.

  • Shove. If you’re around the 12 big blind mark you should be more inclined to shove if you choose to open your hand at all. I’ll open/raise this stack size only if I’m trying to induce worse to shove over me. Your shoving range can be a little bit wider in a 180-man since you need to be building a stack for the final table.

In the Money of a 180-Man – Strategy for 10 to 18 Players Left

Congratulations. If you make it to being one of the last 18-players left, you have made it in the money. The worse case scenario will be that you make double your money back.

My strategy for being in the money, but not quite yet at the final table is simple. If I don’t have a final table stack (ideal stack would be 25k+), then I’m going to try to build one. Since everyone up until the 10th player out makes the same amount of money, I’m going to be borderline spewy. I’m going to be shoving extremely wide if I’m short or open raising often to steal the blinds to further build my stack. Keep in mind, you don’t want to open with ATC (most times), because many players’ calling ranges will be wider too (for the same reason we’re opening wider). But opening suited connectors, broadways and ace-rags will be acceptable (obviously player and stack dependent).

If I happen to have a 25k+ stack, then I’m going to be on the tighter side. I will only take spots to maintain my stack or spots where I’m confident that I’m ahead of my opponent’s range.

In the Money of a 180-Man – Final Table

I won’t comment too much on how to play the final table of a 180-man because most of it will be ICM based. The bigger your stack, the tighter your overall range should be. The shorter you are, the wider you should be so you don’t blind out. In short, I will play a 180-man sit and go final table similar to how I will play a 45-Man final table. My objective will be to place in the top 3 and then I will go for the win.

Summary of How to Play 180-Man Sit and Go Turbos

The whole objective of a turbo 180-man sit and go is to build, build and build. Once you pass the 50/100 mark, you need to be trying to accumulate chips so that you can have yourself a final table stack. By being a little bit more loose-aggressive and implementing plays like squeezes, shoves and steals, you’ll find that you bust/bubble much less and set yourself to run deep, if not win, more often.

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Written by Matt Geer

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