Low Limit SnG Usual Suspects
2005 Jason Kirk  

One of the beautiful things about low-level sit-and-go tournaments is the shorthanded table experience you get without having to sit through four days of a major tournament to get there. Then there's the fact that you have a 1-in-3 chance of making money every time you sit down, regardless of your competition. Finally, there are the players you're up against. The players in these quick tournaments are bad, sometimes even more so than in cash games at comparable limits. Even better than their lack of skill is the fact that they're not aware of just how bad they are. Let's take a look at the usual suspects in your average $20-or-less sit-and-go tournament and see what you're often up against.

The Maniac

This is the player that people either love or hate playing against - there's no in between. He'll raise with any two cards, regardless of position, and often call big bets on the flop with nothing at all in the hope that he'll make a hand on the turn. For obvious reasons, the best place to be is on this player's right. However, having him anywhere at the table is a good thing because almost all of the plays he makes are -EV. The best situation is for him to make a poor move against you when you have a monster, but don't despair if someone else gets his chips first. They'll often play as poorly as he does and give you a shot at those chips eventually.

The best strategy against this player is just to wait for a big hand and punish him for playing it. If he raises, come over him with a bigger raise. Make him think twice about messing with you. He may call you and catch a lucky flop here and there, but you're a huge favorite over him every time you sit at his table.

The Chronic Underplayer

At first glance, this player may bear a resemblance to the classic tight-aggressive player because he waits for premium hands before he gets involved in a pot. But unlike the tight-aggressive player, the chronic underplayer falls victim to the desire not to "lose customers." If he faces a raise and a call in front of him when he's holding a big pair, count on him making a minimum raise so he can keep everyone in the pot. If there's a draw on the board, don't expect him to price anyone out of it - he's got the best hand and he thinks it will hold up every time. When he's beaten by a hand that he was ahead of pre-flop, don't be too surprised to see him stick around in chat and berate the player who beat him. He's too oblivious to his own mistakes to realize he's being a jerk.

Playing against this player means paying very close attention to implied odds and pot odds. Because he doesn't play his big hands aggressively enough, you can take advantage by sticking around with hands that you might fold against a better player. If you're playing a draw and the underplayer bets out, check your pot odds and see if you're getting the right price to continue. Often what looks like an obvious fold can turn out to be an easy call against the underplayer.

The Chronic Overplayer

Before the flop this player is often well-disguised, making standard raises and seeming to fit in with the crowd. After the flop, however, the chronic overplayer is easy to spot - he's the guy throwing huge bets into the pot when he has even the most mediocre of holdings. He overvalues hands like middle pair with a decent kicker and top pair with a top kicker, not understanding that the only hands that will generally play against his over-sized bets in situations like these are the ones that have him beaten. He's so scared of being drawn out on by an opponent that he tries to scare them out of the pot simply by the size of his bets. Much like the chronic underplayer, he's prone to telling his opponents how horrible they are when they beat him.

If you're going to take advantage of this player's mistakes you'll often have to do it early. Because of the nature of his mistakes, he will make a quick exit more often than not. Even if he manages to survive, it's rare for him to have much of a stack in the tournament's late stages because he doesn't get proper value for his big hands. With good draws - hands like an open-ended straight draw or flush draw with two overcards to the board - you should give consideration to going all the way against this player because his bets are rarely bear any relation to the strength of his hand.  

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