Common low/micro limit sit n go (SNG) leaks
In this series of articles, we're going to look at some of the common leaks found in micro/low limit sit n go poker tournaments. These will be found in plenty of your opponents, and possibly yourself. Knowing why they are leaks will help you to eliminate them from your own game and exploit the weakness of your opponents use of them.
SNG Leak #1 - the pre-flop minraise
We've probably all seen this happen in a low-limit SNG. The blinds are small, and the action goes open-limp, limp limp, limp, and then someone minraises to 80. So what's so wrong with this? Well the problem with minraising is, all it's doing is inflating the size of the pot. It certainly isn't scaring off anyone who limped in either, meaning whatever hand the minraiser has, has more risk of being busted than if they only had one or two opponents.
By minraising, we are giving all the opponents great odds to call. This has the added effect of meaning we can't put them on a particular hand, therefore meaning we're 'flying blind' post flop.
Take into account the limpers when raising
When putting in a raise before the flop, it's advisable to raise 3 x times the big blind, plus one blind for each person who limped before you. So in the scenario we mentioned earlier, we'd be wanting to raise to 240 total (3x40=120 plus another 3x40 for the limpers). This does three things - 1) It inflates the pot to a good size for when you have a premium hand, 2) Is likely to mean you only have one (ideally) or two opponents going to the flop and 3) Means we can have a better idea of their likely hand range, given they have called a large bet preflop.
Minraising in the early stages is also symptomatic of someone who is too lazy to use the bet slider or type in a bet amount, and would rather just click 'raise'.
Minraising hand ranges
I tend to find poor players who use the minraise early in the tournament are either raising a premium hand (let's say AQ+) or a junk type hand (any rag ace). So be aware that just because they're playing badly, doesn't mean they don't have a good hand.
How to deal with minraisers
Often you can take a passive approach to these players. They're happy to make small, pointless bets both before and after the pot. You can take advantage of this by playing small pocket pairs (and setmining), or playing speculative hands like small/medium suited connectors. As the price you are getting on each street tends to be small, these are often great ways of busting your opponent who is minraising good hands like AK, AA etc.
Whilst it is mathematically correct to call a minraise if you're in the big blind with any two cards, there is no shame in folding if you are holding pure junk. This is a personal judgement call - often I will fold quite often to small pre flop raises in the early stages rather than leeching off chips with a hand that's unlikely to hit the flop well.
Minraises are annoying to play against so the other thing to do is not to get frustrated by their poor play - let them carry on making mistakes and spewing their chips away whilst you wait for the right opportunity to take advantage of them.
BUT! (When minraising is OK)
All that aside, there are times when min-raising is a logical and perfectly acceptable pre-flop strategy, and this is when the bilnds are high, in the late stages of the game. A min-raise at this stage of the SNG could be just doubling the blind up to 400 - but at this stage, whilst it's still 'only' a min raise, it's often large enough in terms of chip stacks to get the blinds to fold and help you increase your stack size. This is particularly effective when on the bubble against overly tight/timid players who are afraid to get their chips in and risk busting.
The other time minraising is fine is when the player you're raising against (for example you're in the small blind and they're in the big) is timed out/has been disconnected. In this case 95% of the time when you minraise they will insta-fold as they're not there. If you minraise and they're just 'come back' then worst case situation is they raise back out of annoyance and you have to fold. No problem.
In short then, don't minraise pre flop aside from the times mentioned above. It's poor play and is just inviting other players to come along for the ride. You're building the size of the pot but it probably won't be to your benefit. Put in a decent raise which reflects the amount of limpers prior to you acting. Doing this takes control of the pot and the action and minimises the risk of your premium hands being beaten postflop by some ace-rag/insert crap hand of your choice here.
Min-raising isn't big and it sure ain't clever!
Good luck at the tables.