Playing the least amount of pots is the way to win.
Everytime you enter a pot in a No Limit game you are putting your entire stack at risk.
If you have cards that are not so good and catch a nice piece of the flop then you always risk busting out in this spot.
This is why we like to play tight in this game. Getting knocked out when we play a K 10 and lose to an AK is horrible play. What have we said about calling raises?
So this is why the strategy of playing an SNG is completely different to playing a cash game.
In a cash game you are playing to win the majority of pots you enter, in an SNG you are looking to win every single pot you play. This is why you must be more selective about which hands you play with and where you play them from.
Your goal is to get down to bubble play with around 2000 chips or more. Anything above this is double bubble and nice to have but it's not crucial to winning the game. Of course having more chips than everybody else is always nice to have but you don't have to have this advantage all the time to win.
You start with 1500 chips, by the time it get's to bubble play you are usually approaching the 50/100 blind limit. Taking into account the blinds you will have placed you will only need to play two or three pots to get to your 2000 chip goal.
Now, if this seems like passive play then maybe it is. But it is a winning style. The fewer pots you play the less chance you have of busting out.
So our strategy model means that we only need to play two or three hands in the early part of the tournament. If someone pays you off and you get a bigger stack than the 2000 then that's great.
Playing the least amount of hands that you possibly can whilst maximising the return from those few hands is the balance you need to work at to control this game.Once you get to four handed then the dynamics change slightly and again when it gets to the bubble but all along your goal is to survive.
The reason I emphasise surviving so much is because the standard of player you are playing against is generally weak at anything up to the $20 buy in level. There is always a very high percentage chance that when you hit a flop and make a hand that you are going to get paid off because opponents just don't believe you.
Over a period of time that you keep records of your progress (you do track your progress don't you!) what you should notice is that your higher placing in the money rate directly corresponds to the fewer hands you play to make a money placing.
We can look at this another way.
The maniac who seems to be splashing in every pot and getting lucky builds a big chip lead. But because of the way they play (fast and loose) they often donate the chips they have won back to the table. If they manage to hold on and win the SNG then they may feel that they won because they "played poker".
However this style of play will see them gradually deplete their bankroll as they keep chancing their hands too many times.
Many times I have had players giving me the bird for hardly playing a hand in the early stages, but they don't realise that "playing poker" means playing in a way that takes advantage over your opponents mistakes. If they are willing to donk off chips in pots that they had no business of being in then that's their problem.
You can easily win these six handed sit and go's by playing only six or seven hands the entire tournament. But it's more common to have to switch gears when it gets down to four handed play and raise a few more hands.
You don't win this game by being the player that plays the most hands and get's lucky. It might happen occasionally and it's always great when you hit every flop and slaughter the table but these times are a rarity.
You win by playing the least amount of hands that you can possibly play. The fewer hands you play, the higher percentage chance you have of making the money.