Decide on 3xBB or 4xBB and keep to it.
Always keep your raises consistent.
Always raise the same amount no matter what hand you are raising with. If things get desperate and your chip stack starts to shrink then a 3x BB raise on the button with 10 6 can keep you in the game. Because all of your raises are consistent no one has a clue what you have.
This is important when it comes to dealing with hands like 88, 99, 10,10 in particular. With these hands many people start to increase the amount that they raise with which is a big mistake.
Seat One steals the blinds from the button once again.
You are telegraphing to the better players that you have a medium pair and if they have something like AJ or KJ then you are likely to get called.
Or simply you scare off a weaker ace that you could have made some money out of.
The other big mistake that players make with these hands is to move all in because they are scared of seeing a flop or don't know how to play on the flop with these hands.
This is not the idea. If you do this you will get looked up by a muppet who has AJ early on and wants a quick double up.
Many people only want to play with chips and if it means gambling early on to double up then they'll do it.
Also you don't always get hit on by the gamblers. Moving all in with any of these pairs means you could quickly be called by any higher pair and bust out.
The way to play these pairs is to make your standard raise. If you miss and an Ace hits the flop you can often take it down by representing the Ace if you have enough chips to do so.
Alternatively you can just check it down hoping to hit a set on the way.
The saying "no set no bet" absolutely rules here unless you manage to hit a flop with no overcards to your pair in which case that's the green light to put in a good half pot bet.
Raising to get the blinds becomes more and more important as the SNG develops but what you will notice is that by the time we get to four handed all those limpers have pretty much stopped limping because they are scared of being raised and so now the rate at which they can bluff to win pots against weaker players has suddenly come to a crawl.
When the blinds get to 50/100 nearly all of the limping has stopped and now it's down to a better technique before we get to the bubble.
It's in this situation that you should really shine. And by that I mean maintaining your stack and not getting under pressure to make any silly moves. With a stack of say 1500 to 2000 chips you can now start to raise more frequently with slightly weaker hands.
If you've been unlucky and lost some big hands and have say 800 to 1000 chips then it's still no time to panic. There is still plenty of play left in this for you and you have absolutely no reason to start moving all in with a crap hand.
All that happens when you do this is that everybody folds and you pick up the blinds - which is exactly the outcome you wanted anyway - you just needlessly risked your whole stack to do it.
If you are badly short stacked because you have been card dead then it's still no reason to become a maniac.
A rag is still junk in this spot and if you have the chips it's still preferable to fold it even in the small blind. There are many reasons for this and let's examine them because they are important.
you have 2000 chips and your opponents have between 1500 - 3000. It's folded to you in the small blind and you have A3. You raise 3x BB and get called. The flop comes with an A and you bet.
What is the big blind calling you with? At this stage he's not calling with nothing because this is just simply not the time to do it. He or she knows that you are a tight player by now and they don't call with nothing.
It's in this spot that you earn your corn by making the fold and letting the other players bust each other out.
This sort of marginal play is the one that will make the difference between you having an over 60% in the money and breaking even at around 40%.
When you are four handed there is still plenty of opportunity for your opponents to be picking up good cards and at this level A rag is not a good hand. You may think it is, especially if you haven't seen many good hands lately, but it's really not a good hand to have.
The idea here is to preserve your chip stack. You are only going to raise if you have a hand with which you are prepared to see through.
Going all in at this point is the terrible players weapon and too often you see someone moving all in with A 5, getting called with AQ and busting out.
You have to be confident when you make your raise that if that Ace hits on the flop then you most likely have the best hand and can put in a good continuation bet.
When you get reraised here or your opponent moves all in then you can pretty much take it you are beat because they would have folded an Ace rag. Let's hope your Kicker is good enough to play for all your chips.