Finally, we reach a spot where the stack depth is shallow enough to revert to a shove or fold strategy. BU chooses between these two options and BB will either call or fold. There are some differences between being 7BBs deep and 9BBs deep, but these are minor, and so, for simplicity, we shall lump this range of stack depth into one category.
BU Push or Fold Game
Firstly, let’s note that limping is now impractical as it will offer our opponent the dreaded effective final raise. If this is at all ambiguous, go back and re-read Part 9. At 7-9BB stack-depth, the way to seize the right to the effective last raise is to simply shove. Consequently, BU will do much better in this situation than BB will and so playing the BU very aggressively is mandatory. We must capitalize on the fact that we need less hand strength to make the final raise than our opponent requires to call it. Have a look at the BU push or fold chart for 7-9BB below:
If you do not yet have a great deal of experience with late stage sit and go or tournament play, then this range may seem very wide. Shoving very weak hands like Q4o and 87o is optimal, however, due to how effective this final raise size is. Because Villain realizes no fold equity by calling, he will have to fold many hands better than these due to the fact that they will have insufficient equity against our shoving range as a whole. When holding, for example, Q6o, Villain will have 60% and 56% equity respectively against Q4o and 87o respectively. Clearly, he would like to call. Unfortunately for him, against our entire range his equity is only 42%. If we are 8BB deep, then his risk will be 7BB to win a pot of 9BB (our 8BB plus his dead 1BB.)
7 / (7 + 9) = 0.44
Villain needs 44% equity to call a hand against our shove. Therefore, the aim of our strategy is to find the sweet spot where we can shove as many hands as possible without making our range weak enough for Villain to start calling off hands that are clearly in the bottom tier of starting hands. If we were to lose control and start shoving any two cards, then Q6o actually becomes a favourite against our range and is an absolutely no-brainer call. It follows from this that if we think our opponent is playing the Spin & Go late game too tight, then we should shove with any two cards. Folding Q6o is a colossal mistake against such a strategy and so if Villain is either not paying attention to our shove frequency or is not informed as to how wide he can call against it (more likely) we should feel free to widen this jamming range considerably.
Before we look at how we should react in the BB to the BU push or fold range that we recommended above, a quick word on exploiting the population. Many players, especially below the $30 level of Spin & Gos, will check the BB far too often if we limp. Therefore, the completely unsound theoretical option of limping the BU with 7-9BB might become viable against such opponents. The idea is that 80% of the passive player’s range will check the big blind and when he does raise, we are running into a very high equity hand into which we are glad that we didn’t shove that 76s. These placid opponents will let us see flops, pick up pots post-flop, and have the courtesy to pre-warn us when they have a real hand. Consider limp-folding a lot of very bad hands against such players.
BB Calling Strategy
The BU shoves and we are caught in the vice of being the big blind at 7-9bb stack-depth with no fold equity. We are facing the effective final raise, and there is nothing we can do about it. Such is the structure of the tournament at this late stage. Life is high-variance and not particularly enjoyable in this spot, but nevertheless, it is our responsibility to make sure we make the best out of a bad situation by calling the right hands.
The calling range I will recommend is one that performs optimally against BU’s optimal shoving range. We must remember that there are many opponents who will shove the BU half as frequently as they are supposed to, and others who think they need to jam 100% of starting hands. Our calling range must narrow or widen against these two types of weaker player respectively. Here is how we should react on the BB to the jamming range I recommended for BU:
Again, we have recommended a range likely to shock newer players, but remember, this is only the correct reaction to an optimal shoving range. Most recreational opponents misplay the BU by shoving too wide or too tight. As soon as you catch your opponent folding the BU with a high frequency or limping at an unsuitable stack depth for limping, it is time to tighten this calling strategy significantly. This is partially just because many of the recommended calls will become -EV vs. a passive opponent’s shove, but also because our BU becomes very high EV against such players. If we are going to have all kinds of exploitative options when it is our turn to enjoy the BU, then there is less incentive to make very marginally profitable calls in the BB. Let these hands go and await a spot where you can use Villain’s deficiencies to gain a larger edge, but remember not to wait too long as the clock is ticking and very quickly in this turbo format.
Generally speaking, in lower stakes Spin & Gos, we should approach both of these spots a little more conservatively than is theoretically correct. It is possible to gain a huge edge in the late stages of the tournament based on how poorly weaker opponents will handle the dramatic changes to stack depth. Do not be afraid to try out plays that are suboptimal in theory in order to gain an exploitative edge. If Villain seems solid, however, then the above charts will equip you with a healthy strategy in this phase of the Spin & Go.