Sit-n-Go Strategy Guide - Section 2

I would like to take a moment to talk about decision making. On the face of it, when you think about the decisions you have to make in poker…..they seem fairly simple, and to a certain degree they are. You can check, call, raise or fold….pretty basic stuff, however when you start to consider the implications of your decisions things become more complicated. What decision should you make in a given circumstance….what factors should you consider….what information should you ignore. Are your desires for a particular outcome influencing your decisions, or do your fears of a certain outcome influence how you arrive at a decision.

As poker players we strive to make correct decisions based on incomplete and often deceptive information. What is extremely important is that we do our utmost to reduce or eliminate external forces or influences. Just because you want to win that $50 SnG because you could really use the money this week does not necessarily mean you should push all-in preflop with those aces. Your overall goal should not play a significant role in the decision you make in that hand, what does matter is position, stack size, blind levels, how many people have acted before you, how many will act behind you, what their past actions were, what are the likely to play….etc. The converse of this is playing in fear since you will not be able to eat this week if you bust out of the money in that $50 SnG (you should not be playing it, but we will cover that in bankroll management) will you be able to make the correct decision based on the information you have about that hand, or will your fear of losing influence you? Yes, these are of course extreme examples…..but I use them to illustrate a point. Do your best to eliminate external pressures, influences and hindrances to good decision making. Many of us are superstitious creatures; we look for patterns and try to make sense of randomness…..We want to believe that if we have had a run of bad luck – good luck is just around the corner. Just because you have not flopped a set on your last 9 small pocket pairs, does not mean that this time you are due. Just because you have bubbled out of your last 4 SnGs does not mean that you should step up to a $100 SnG because you are likely to win your next one….based on some sort of phantom probability you have concocted in your mind. Don’t laugh; I have heard all sorts of wacky reasoning and justifications for playing a hand…..or a whole tournament.

A whole lot has been written about achieving “the zone” or getting yourself prepared to play good poker. I won’t talk at length about this, other than to say that is important to good decision making to have a clear focused mind. Whatever it is that you do to prepare yourself to play, clean the kitchen, lift weights, mow the lawn, play with the dogs…etc do it. Take care of life’s tasks before you sit down and begin playing, and I recommend starting a pre-game ritual if you don’t already have one….something that on a subconscious level tells you body and mind that you are about to play some poker.

Sit-n-Go Strategy Guide - Section 2 Summary

• Decisions that seem simple, may be more complicated
• Limit external influences on decision making
• Separate what “is” from what you would like it to be
• Do not make decisions or predictions based solely on what has happened before
• Develop and faithfully follow a pre-game ritual