SNG Tips:
Play your A-game all the time
Ways to increase your ROI

SNG Tips - Always Play Your A-Game: Your goal should be to only play poker when you're at your best. When you're playing as well as you are capable of, then you are playing your A-game. This is when your edge is biggest. The importance of playing your best applies to all forms of poker, but it is magnified in games where the edge is small, such as in SNGs.

You should never take winning for granted. Here are some ways to NOT turn your A-game into your B-game or C-game.

SNG Tips #1: Don't watch TV, check e-mail or websurf while you're playing.

Just because you are a winning player, don't start thinking that all you need to do to win is show up with a mouse in your hand. Your full attention needs to be on the game. You should never have the TV on. Don't even turn it on just to check a sports score.

Similarly, don't reply to e-mails or surf the web either. Don't even watch a poker training video. You need to do everything you can to keep your body and brain 100% in poker playing mode. You need to be aware of the game flow, your current image and who else might be on tilt. You need to be noticing how your opponents play and take quality notes on them. You also may need to be actively table selecting.

I suspect that many Sit-N-Go grinders with a 4% ROI probably have a 7%-8% ROI when they are playing their A-game. But turn on the TV, open a web browser or answer the phone and now the ROI is 1% ... maybe.

Your goal should be to reach "flow state". Some people refer to it as being "in the zone".

from wikipedia:

Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Colloquial terms for this or similar mental states include: to be "on the ball", "in the zone", or "in the groove".

Once you're in the zone, don't allow distractions to pull you out of it.

SNG Tips #2: Don't Chase SNG Leaderboards or Extend Your Session to Just to Finish off a Bonus or to reach some other volume goal.

Don't play an unnatural amount of volume trying to improve your monthly SNG Leaderboard Standing. When you do that, you are no longer focusing on quality. You're now focusing on quantity.

Don't be the SNG grinder with the 8% A-game ROI that plays a bunch of extra tables for a bunch of extra hours on the last day of the month trying to move up the leaderboard just to get an extra $42 in bonus money, because you won't be playing well, and it will very often COST you money.

It's a terrible feeling to chase a $42 bonus and lose $500 at the tables and know you weren't playing well because you played too many tables and played tired.

Similarly, you should never extend your session just to finish off a reload bonus. Even if you just need another 50 FTPs or FPPs to finish off a bonus, don't keep playing if you would otherwise stop. Wait until later and let the bonus be worked off during your next session when your mental horsepower is at full strength.

If the bonus deadline is getting ready to expire, and it's an all-or-nothing bonus like the PokerStars $600 reload bonuses, then you might be compelled to play it off using your B-game or C-game. But you should realize that this poor planning is costing you money and you should resolve not let it happen again. Obviously this isn't just an SNG tip. I often made this mistake back when I was a cash game players as well.

So don't extend a session beyond your A-game range just to reach any kind of volume goal such as so many SNGs per day or so many FTPs or FPPs for the month. It's necessary to have a good poker work ethic if you're playing for a living, but your volume goals should be acheived while always playing your A-game. Don't let poor planning or laziness force you into playing a lot of C-game hours just catch up.

This also means you can't be quitting early for the day just because you won a quick 15 buy-ins in the first 90 minutes you play. Doing so wastes a lot of A-game table time you were capable of that day. Although it might be okay to occasionally quit after a good run just to enjoy that feeling of happiness for a change, don't do it if it's going to cause you play a bunch of non A-game hours at the end of the month. It should be obvious why.

SNG Tips #3: Don't play when you're mad or frustrated

This usually happens when you are losing. We humans don't seem capable of playing our A-game when things aren't going well. A bunch of bad beats and coolers in a short period of time will normally cloud our judgment and knock us off our A-game. For example, if you keep running into big hands every time you shove for about an hour, it's going to hurt your feelings and your decision making ability will suffer. Now your 8% expected ROI slips to 2%. Throw in a couple bad beats and a lose 8 out of 10 coinflips and now you might no longer be capable of playing winning poker at all! At the first signs that things are going really badly, you must stop. You are not Mr. Spock. You are not a robot. You are a fragile human and you will start making bad plays.

The games will still be running when you return. And then you'll be fresh and many of your undisciplined opponents will be there waiting for you with their TVs on and stuck $1000 for the day desperately trying to get back to even before they go to bed.

Not only is it mandatory that you always play your A-game, it's important that you have a good A-game. One thing you can to do to develop a strong A-game is specialize in one specific game.

Another thing you must do to reach your potential is work on your game away from the tables through what's known as "deliberate practice"

Related SNG Tips Article:

SNG Tips #4 Don't play past your "threshhold of misery"

And here's an excellent article from called Surviving The Long Haul. The author talks about some common pitfalls that online poker pros often fall victim to, and he provides solutions to deal with them.

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