Early Stages

During the early stages of a sit n go "tight is right". Many of the maniacs at your table are going to be all in early, and will knock each other out. As each person is knocked out you greatly increase your chances of finishing in the money. In some of the lower buy in sit n goes, players can often make the money without ever making a significant bet.

The "Early Stages" consists of the first three blind levels. Your goal during the early stages is just to survive, as you will be able to outplay people later in the tournament when the betting has calmed down.

Even though blinds are very low compared to your chips stack you should avoid limping in with marginal hands. You are rarely going to hit a flop hard with these hands, and even if you make bottom two pair with a hand like 109 you could be in huge trouble if the board pairs or if a draw hits.

When you do get a strong preflop hand you need to play it aggressively. Since blinds are so low, a raise of 5-6x the big blind is necessary. If you only raise the standard 3x the big blind it is likely you will see multiple players call, and that greatly increases the chances of your big hand getting cracked. If you have a big pair and make the 6x the big blind raise, you are still likely to get a caller, and you'd much rather be heads up then in a multi way pot. If everyone folds it isn't a big deal, you'd much rather have won the blinds then gotten knocked out of the tournament early because someone cracked your big pair.

In the early stages you should be less apt to get all your chips in preflop. Unless you have AA or KK you should fold to a preflop all in. Even a hand like QQ can be cracked easily by an AJ or smaller pair, so you should lay it down. A lot of times you will fold a favorite to a preflop all in, but it is much more profitable to save your chips for later than to gamble.

If you have a hand such as AK and put in your 6x the big blind raise you need to carefully consider what to do on the flop. If one player has come in with you and the flop is bad, say QJ4, then it is likely that he will call a continuation bet. During the early stages some of the maniacs will even call a continuation bet here with as little as 55. When you put in your preflop raise and the flop comes bad you need to slow down and avoid bluffing chips away. If you check in this situation, and your opponent bets, it may be possible he is bluffing, but you should fold, as you have plenty of chips left that you can use when you have a stronger hand.

Often times, as the sit n go progresses through the early rounds you may feel like everyone is leaving you behind because they are building their stacks but you are folding. Having a big stack early is nice, but is definitely not necessary. The crucial time of a sit n go is the middle and late stages, as that is when the skillful players will be able to accumulate chips. Never start to play hands just because you feel that you need to start building a stack. During the early stages you could fold every single hand and still be in good shape for the middle stages.

-- This article brought to you courtesy of CoinFlipPoker.com...thanks again for your valued advice and permission to post this.