SNG Strategy: Pot Odds vs Fold Equity

Andrew SpradlinContributor IMay 5, 2008

Online sit and go's are one of the most popular forms of online poker. SNG tables typically fill within minutes and range anywhere from 25-80 minutes. The convenience of sng tournaments allows millions of players to play a single session in an hour.

Many of online players consistently advance to the bubble stages (4th-5th) and begin to squeeze or "play for the win". Particularly many players play too tight and let their cards to the talking. Numerous players mistake the value of pot odds opposed to fold equity in these stages of online SNG. However, by this point in online SNG's, position and chip stack should be deciding factors to your play.

- Pot Odds. Pot Odds are the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of a contemplated call. Pot Odds are more prevalent in the earlier blind levels of a SNG, however levrage becomes a greater factor than pot odds when the blinds accumulate to 1/15 the average stack or more.

There are four players left in a single table sit and go. The average stack is 3375 and the blinds are 150/300. You are the SB and have a stack size of 3800.

You are dealt (Kd Ts) in the SB. The cutoff folds and the button limps. You complete the BB and the BB raises to 850, button folds.

The action is 550 for you to call into a pot of 1450.

Let's consider the situation it costs you 550 to call a pot of 1450, you're being offered 2.6:1 pot odds. The BB has been overactive and is out of position. The BB has position throughout the entire hand. There are only 2 ways the BB raised, 1. he believes the button is limping weak holding 6c7c, J9, T8, etc. 2. he believes it is the best hand. There is also the rare case he has a hand like QT suited and is trying to pick up the blinds.

KsTs is a solid 4 handed hand and worthy of raising. In this particular spot, however, the situation remains murky at best and 3500 chips is is plenty to play with.

Electing to fold KT in this spot allows us keep a nice size stack in tact and utilize in a more profitable situation.

- Fold Equity. Fold Equity is the equity a player can consider him or herself likely to gain due to the opponent folding to his or her bets. In large part, SNG's are determine by the use of fold equity.

The blinds are now 200/400,four players remain. You have 3500 chips and are dealt Kh8h on the button.

The SB has a stack size of 3900 and the BB has 1500.

The BB has just over 3.5x and should be looking for a chance to move in his stack. However, it is much harder for the BB to call of his stack with hands like Q9 or JT when another has raised. For this reason, raising Kh8h here is the right play. The worst possible scenario is raising to 1200 and the SB calls and the target BB folds. In most situations the SB recognizes the bet and bows out.

K8 is favored over 2 random hands, if the BB does decide to play for all his chips K high may very well be ahead or flipping vs hands like 44-77, QJ, or A9. Raising K8 suited in this position allows us to pick up an additional 600 chips if successful.

In the long run, finding more profitable and clear situations will inevitably lead to greater SNG results. Don't let your cards control your play, taking advantage of the clearer situations can be the difference in 1st and 2nd.  

Good Luck Rounders