In Part One of this Spin & Go strategy series we talked about how the size of the variable prize pool is likely to affect how your opponents play. Now that we have discussed that key aspect of Spin & Go’s we can move on to talk about strategy for the rest of the tournament.
It’s going to be very tempting to see a lot of flops when the blinds are really low and you still have your 500 chip starting stack. However, it’s important not to get too carried away. You should still stick by the same logic as before, and bear in mind how the size of the Spin & Go will affect your opponents. In approximately 70% of Spin & Go’s you will play for a first prize of double your buy-in. In these tournaments you will have to play a little tighter in the beginning because your opponents will be playing loose. When the prize is better, your opponents will play a more narrow range and you should play more hands in order to exploit that (by stealing blinds and bluffing on flops).
With relatively short stacks and a fast structure, the concept of bluffing in Spin & Go’s is an interesting one. First, you have to start off playing Spin & Go’s using a very straightforward, ABC poker style. If this is working and you are seeing a positive return on investment playing in this way, then you can start opening up your game and looking for good spots to bluff. You need some experience to get the ‘timing’ for this game and to control your stack with perfection. Only at that point should you start to bluff.
In the early levels you should not be shoving pre-flop. Even though it looks like you are under pressure immediately, you really are not. You have 25 big blinds to play with in the early stages, so you have a lot of moves to use before starting to shove/fold. There will come a time when we have to be the ones shoving pre-flop a lot, and I think the time to do that is when we have a stack of 7 big blinds or less. As in any kind of poker game, you should look for favourable situations to put your chips into the middle, and not just gamble.
When opponents start shoving hands against you your calling requirements will differ hugely depending on the opponent and the prize pool of the Spin & Go. If you sense that your opponent is frustrated because the prize pool is low, then you can call with a range of A7s+/44+/KJ+ in the early stages. However, if the prize pool is high you want to have better hands. I would adjust this hand range to now be AJo+/88+.
The final thing to talk about is the winner-take-all structure of Spin & Go’s. Weaker players tend to play over-aggressively because of this. It’s a mistake. You need to be calm and always know the number of big blinds in your stack – it’s often more than you think! There is definitely an argument to try and get to heads-up first and see what happens from there. Most of the time you will be playing heads-up with a 15-20 big blind stack, which is more than enough. You can outplay your opponent without picking up strong hands if you are this deep.
I believe this is a better approach than trying to ‘play for the win’ from the very start. In all forms of poker, you have to work hard to win. You have to read your opponents, keep track of the blinds, adjust your strategy and keep track of many other details that are necessary to win. If you just go all guns blazing instead of analysing the situation you are not playing correctly. If you get to heads-up now is the time to play very aggressively. If your opponent has 10 big blinds or less, you can shove a lot of hands – I would shove a very wide range of all pairs and 75s+!