One of the most popular forms of real money online poker being played currently are the 180 man turbo sit-n-go’s. At one time these games were my most profitable of any that I played. If I was running badly in cash games I could always count on these as a backup. The reason for their popularity is twofold. For one they offer a very high payout for first place. With just a $2.20 entry fee you could take home over $100 in prize money. The second reason is most likely because they play like a tournament. This attracts those with limited time looking to get their fix. These games can be very lucrative if you aware aware of our 180 man turbo sit-n-go strategy. They can also be very frustrating at times since you will go through streaks without winning. The times you do win will more than make up for the times you don’t.
The first point to note about the 180 man sit-n-go tournaments would be the payout structure. Only 18 spots payout with most of the winnings going to the top 3 finishers. Places 18 through 10 only receive double their buy-in. Even once you make the final table you won’t see any substantial money until you hit 5th or 4th. With the payouts so heavily weighted towards the top 3 spots we need to adjust our play accordingly. In a regular sit-n-go, the prizes are split much differently. It’s fine to finish third in a 9 man sit-n-go since you will cash more often in a smaller field.
In a regular sit-n-go our strategy is to play a very tight style and not get too involved early on. Our goal is to make it to the money then fight for the win. This is exactly the opposite in a 180 man. We have 179 other players to beat and with the blinds going up quickly we need to build a huge stack as fast as possible. Especially with the top heavy payouts, our goal now shifts to winning rather than just cashing. To achieve this goal we must be willing to gamble it up. I’ll guide you through each phase of the game giving you a playbook to start crushing these 180 man turbo sit-n-go’s on a regular basis.
Early stage strategy for a 180 man sit-n-go
From the start I’m looking for hands to double up with. This includes mainly pairs, suited aces and big Ax hands. With small pairs I’m looking to see a cheap flop and hit a set. If someone opens before me I will most likely fold unless it’s a small raise or more than one player has called. If it’s folded around to me I will limp in with the same strategy in mind. If I don’t hit a set I’m almost always folding unless it’s heads up and I can fire a small bet to take the pot down when my opponent shows weakness. If shown any sort of resistance I’m done with the hand unless of course we make a set on later streets. The same concept applies for suited aces. I’m looking to see a cheap flop in hopes of making a flush or possibly 2 pair.
With my big Ax hands such as AK, AQ and sometimes all the way down to AT, I’m trying to get all the money in preflop. This is possibly my biggest secret to winning these games. It may seem a bit unconventional but after playing literally thousands of 180 mans I have found that it works. I started noticing players calling with hands that are very weak for all their chips. I then began to exploit this tendency by shoving all my big hands. This only works against certain player types, but they can easily be spotted within a few hands. These types like to limp in a lot and call raises; they are never raising themselves and play a very weak game. Once our prey is noticed it’s time to pounce. If it’s my turn to act and no one has raised, I’m going to shove all-in regardless of the blind levels with all my big pairs and big aces. More often than not I will get called by someone with a small pair or a weaker ace. I’m fine with taking a flip against a small pair as we need to build our stack as quickly as we can. I used to play a tight style and found that I was min cashing a ton. Once I switched over to this strategy I began finishing at the top more and more.
One caveat to this concept that’s important to note is it will not work against everyone. If a tighter player opens the pot we shouldn’t be jamming it in. This is why paying attention to players is so important. If we make a misstep and shove into a nit that hasn’t played a hand in a week, it’s usually game over.
By this time I should have a decent stack and be looking to increase it. We can’t just sit back once we double up; we must keep the pedal to the floor and look for more spots to chip up. I’m basically doing the same thing as I did in the early stages. The only difference would be how I play against different stack sizes. If someone else at my table has a big stack I will slow down a tad and not look to get involved with them too often. I’m more looking to pick on the smaller stacks and take chances without risking all my chips. At this point the blinds have increased and picking up the blinds will start to add to our stack. I’m playing the same type of hands as I did in the early stages and pretty much playing the same way. The only exception being. instead of limping in I am going to raise any hand I decide to play.
This is where we start to make our chips go from a hill to a mountain. Our players will be weaker for the most part and looking to simply cash. This is what we take advantage of. Find the ones not playing a hand on a smaller stack and bully the heck out of them. If we are fortunate enough to have the biggest stack at the table I may be inclined to raise every hand if I notice the players are sitting back hoping to cash. A cash to me means nothing at this point. I don’t care if I make the money I’m only looking to win and build my stack as much as I can. This is an ongoing theme as we can see and should be our main goal at every phase. If I have a smaller stack I’m just looking to shove all in and hope to double up. I usually don’t like calling a raise with weaker hands, but if I have any sort of hand like suited connectors or two broadways, ill call it off and cross my fingers. Since other big stacks will be raising light the odds are that we may be a slight favorite or a small dog. This is more than enough reason to get it in with weaker than usual hands.
In the money
After we’ve punished the weak and made them pay for that min cash, we need to slow up a bit You will find once you reach the money players act like they’ve won the lottery and have no regard for their chips. All the stress built up from sweating the bubble turns into a giant orgasm of chips spewing everywhere. Most short stacks will begin to shove any two cards and others will call with any two cards. Now if you notice this is not happening and players are remaining tight, we go back to our pump it or dump it style.
Once the final table comes in to play, our opponents will start to tighten up a bit. We can start to raise a little more and look to pick up uncontested pots. At this point the blinds will be huge and antes come into play making the pot a substantial portion of your stack before anyone looks at their cards. It becomes more than beneficial to go after it. I’m usually not calling any raises unless I have a hand. I’m not trying to get fancy or outplay my opponents. The risk isn’t worth it since we will have to put a large portion of our stack at play against players who most likely won’t fold. Unless I am short stacked I’m only playing solid hands with the exception of stealing the blinds.
One important aspect of the final table or any part of poker for that matter will be stack sizes of our opponents. If someone has a small stack, the odds they will call go up. Therefore we must be careful of what hands we raise against players on a short stack. If someone raise before you and they only have few chips left, they are never folding so don’t get any thoughts of trying to resteal. A solid strategy with not much fancy play is the right one at this stage in the game.
As discussed in the beginning we know that the top 3 spots pay the highest in 180 man turbo sit-n-go’s. There’s a substantial increase in prize money from fourth to third, almost double. This creates another bubble of sorts. Players will start to tighten up again, looking to make that money increase. Once again we exploit this by playing more aggressive. We have to anyway since the blinds will start to his us more. If we just sit back and fold our stack will slowly dwindle leaving us little chance of winning or even making the top three. If we do have a short stack, were again looking to get it in and hope to double up.
After the strong have survived we are left fighting for first. Stack sizes will usually be the same with the exception of someone being on a smaller stack. We must be playing very aggressive and trying to steal the blinds whenever possible. It only takes s a few rounds to pass before we now become the short stack. Again we aren’t trying to call many raises unless we have a hand. I find that min raising the blinds works just fine at this stage. The blinds are so big that it will cost your opponents a good portion of their stack to call a min sized raise. If met with any resistance I’m folding unless I have a real hand. Now a real hand at this stage is much different than a real hand in other stages. If I have such as I may call it off depending on the reads I have on other players. Often times any ace or any pair is just fine to get the money in. We have to take chances at this level since the blinds will eat away our stack at an increasing rate if we do nothing.
It almost becomes a crap shoot and sometimes a guy will just run good leaving us with little chance of winning. This is a part of the game we must accept and realize that we will be the ones who run good at some point as well. The important thing to do is to not let yourself get blinded out. As long as you are fighting for chips you are in for the chance to hit it big. Sticking to our exclusive 180 man sit-n-go strategy will give you the best chances of finishing top.