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The Most Common Leaks for Sit and Go Players

From my experience, most SNG players tend to share similar leaks when first starting out. I'm not talking about the cliché leaks that first come to mind though, such as playing too many hands or playing big pairs passively. I've noticed from coaching that many players tend to plug these leaks up rather quickly. I'm talking about leaks that are more difficult for a beginner to notice, much less correct without at least having some experience in these games or someone pointing them out. I've outlined these common beginner leaks below.

Top Seven Leaks Commonly Found in SNG Beginners

Here are the 8 most common leaks that I, or students I've coached, had as beginner SNG grinders.

1. Not Pushing Wide Enough or at All

A huge leak that I had when first staring out in sit and go's was not pushing wide enough. It just seemed unnatural to me to be shoving hands like J7 or 98s. Instead, I would try to wait for a "better spot" or "better hand."

Unfortunately, those better spots never come, at least not when you need them most. What ends up happening is your stack blinds down to the point where you have little to no fold equity. This is a much worse situation to be in than shoving a hand like J7 or 98s because you're going to race no matter what. Often times it'll be with a much worse hand than J7 too.

One method that helped me plug this leak up was to push my hand even if I thought it was borderline, which I determined by using SNG Wizard. Most times a shove that you thought was super wide, wasn't in fact that bad at all.

2. Tightening Up on the Bubble

Players who tighten up on the bubble generally do so because they're afraid of busting one place out of the money.

This is a legitimate concern. In fact, you should be tighter on the bubble. However, it's your calling range that should be tight, not so much your opening range.

By opening wide on the bubble, you exploit the fact that the other players need to have tight calling ranges due to ICM considerations. This allows you to chip up so you can continue to have a tight calling range without fear of blinding away. Also, if you open up your range, you'll build a stack worthy of abusing the bubble. If you can get to this stage, it's very difficult to bubble, much less take anything besides 1st or 2nd place.

All of this will obviously depend on things like reads, where everyone is seated, stack sizes, etc. But assuming the situation is decent, you should definitely try to loosen up on the bubble by opening a few more hands.

3. Playing Too Many Tables

Playing too many tables is a leak shared by beginner, intermediate and advanced players alike. While I understand trying to maximize your hourly rate, I also feel that you should try to maximize your ROI. This is easily accomplished by reducing the number of tables you play so you have time to make better decisions and play better poker overall.

In the case of the beginner, it's more of a matter of getting the fundamentals down. Learning things such as shoving ranges, isolation ranges and associating these ranges with pot odds is something that takes time. It's not something you just want to wing or be mediocre at. While it'll work ok at the lower limits, you'll be crushed at the higher limits. Playing too many tables hinders the beginners' ability to improve at these skills.

I suggest that beginning SNG grinders play no more than 10 tables at once. If they're having troubles keeping up while trying to make good decisions, they should reduce their tables 1 at a time until they find what number works best for them.

4. Focus Too Much on Bad Beats

As a player and a coach, I participated in several group chats. In these chats, it was the norm for players to paste bad beat after bad beat.

Besides being extremely annoying, it's also counter productive. Instead of taking the time to post bad beats, you should be focusing on the tables you have up or studying your hand histories. Bad beats are simply apart of poker. So you need to learn to deal with them. Not only that, but most times you're not going to see anyone giving you any consolation - most players just don't care about your aces being cracked by 85s.

5. Uses Bad Beats for Justifying Decisions

The worst thing I've ever seen as a result from a bad beat are players using these experiences to justify their (usually bad) decisions.

For example, I knew of a player who would fold pocket jacks preflop. His reasoning was that every time he plays pocket jacks, he's outdrawn by AK. Another player I knew preferred to set mine with pocket queens because over a short sample he ran into aces and kings when he stacked off preflop.

These examples are real. I'm not making them up. Using bad beats to decide or justify your decisions is such a costly leak. For most players, I would go as far as to say it'd easily turn a winning player into a losing one.

Decisions should be made based on things such as history, ranges, table dynamics and things like that. They should not be made based on previous bad beats.

6. Don't Put in the Work Away from the Tables

When I was a beginner, I put in more time studying hand histories and playing with tools such as SNG Wiz and Poker Stove. As a result, I improved quickly. I also had a higher than average ROI too since I worked hard to improve my skill sets instead of being content with knowing basic push/fold.

This isn't meant to come across as bragging, but just to prove a point. I knew many players who started before me or at the same time that chose to spend all of their playing, mass tabling the micros. They didn't move up in stakes quickly (some didn't at all) and even when they did, there were average at best. They didn't hone the skills necessary to compete at higher levels.

Since the average game is becoming more difficult, you'll need to put an effort into your game away from the table if you wish to create an edge for yourself.

7. Won't Accept Advice

I used to have peers or students ask me for advice, whether it was on an individual hand or entire hand history. I would then give my input as to what I felt they were doing well, and more importantly, the leaks I thought needed plugging up.

A few of these players made it a habit of arguing with me on the issues I pointed out. They would tell me either I was wrong or that they weren't going to conform to a certain style of play or strategy for a given situation.

While I'm always up for a good argument, especially poker related since there are very few absolutes, asking for advice when it's clear that you need it and then not even trying it once is beyond stupid, not to mention rude or disrespectful.

When you ask for advice, you should definitely question it and wonder why it would work. But before you completely dismiss it (if you choose to do so), you should try it and see if it helps. Often times you'll find that it was good advice, whether you choose to use it or not.

Summary of the Most Common Leaks Found in Beginning SNG Grinders

These leaks are the most common found in SNG beginners. They're also the most costly. Players will find that by plugging even a few of these leaks up, both their game and results dramatically improve as a result.

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