Basic Strategy for PokerStars Fifty50 Sit and Gos
PokerStars recently made the difficult decision to remove Double or Nothing (DoN) Sit and Gos from its roster of games, presumably because of rampant collusion. In their place, the world’s largest online poker room inserted a similar type of tournament called the Fifty50, which uses a structure that reduces the benefit derived from colluding while still keeping traits that made DoNs attractive.
Fifty50s are single-table sit and gos that begin with ten players. Like DoNs, they end once five players have been eliminated. But, unlike DoNs, the remaining five players do not split the entire prize pool evenly and therefore do not necessarily double their buy-ins. With Fifty50s, half of the prize pool is split equally among the surviving five players, while the other half is divided based on chip counts.
In the tournament lobby, PokerStars breaks it down in a way that is easy to calculate on the fly. There, it shows how much everyone’s equal share will be and how much money each player will receive for every 100 chips they have at the end. This isn’t exact, but gives players a quick way to estimate how many chips they will need to hit a certain dollar target. The actual prize distribution is based on the chip proportion formula.
So, when all is said and done, Fifty50s are essentially hybrids of DoNs and cash games. The DoN part is obvious, but cash games? Because part of the prize is won based on the number of chips held at the end, tournament chips actually have monetary value, unlike in other tournaments. It is this twist that changes strategy a bit from DoNs.
In the early stages of a Fifty50, when blinds are small, I like to play it very similarly to DoNs: tight, tight, tight. It is still largely about survival at this point – let the two or three fish at the table hang themselves. I do like to expand my range ever so slightly compared to DoNs, so instead of just sticking to, say, A-A, K-K, and maybe Q-Q, I’m fine with playing hands like J-J, A-K, and even A-Q, depending, as always, on the situation.
The middle stages, I have found, are the toughest. I consider this stage of the tournament to be the one where blinds are high enough to matter and there are usually seven or eight players remaining. This is the stage during which I want to try to set myself up for the end game; I go into chip accumulation mode.
Like I said, though, it isn’t easy. I want to start to open up and be more aggressive to grab blinds and force people out of pots, but at the same time, I don’t want to get too wild and risk losing everything or becoming a struggling short stack. That said, I will usually play looser than I would in a DoN because again, it’s not all about survival.
My goal is to try to at least double my buy-in for two reasons: 1) That’s what I would have done in a DoN, and 2) If I were to place third in a standard sit and go, I would win 20% of the prize pool, which would be double my buy-in. Your mark may be higher or lower, but keep it realistic. So, in the case of a Fifty50, I want to try to finish with at least 3,000 chips, and of course, the sooner I can get there, the better. This means playing looser than in a DoN because if I don’t get involved in pots, I can’t win chips.
The final stage is the bubble, when there are six players remaining. How I play here is largely dependent on my chip situation. If I am a prohibitive short stack, I am usually going to just play to survive. Doubling up here is a tricky proposition, as some players are going to call me with a huge range of hands because they want to collect more chips. Thus, pushing with any two cards like I might in other sit and gos is riskier than normal.
Other players, especially if they are big stacks, likely won’t call, so shoving is a useless endeavor against them. And if I do double up, it’s not going to make a huge difference in my final prize.
If I am a big stack, I want to get bigger. Short stacks will want to stay in the game, so I should be able to pick on them provided I make the first move. It’s the same with medium stacks – they don’t want to risk going out on the bubble. Fifty50s are tournaments where the rich really can get richer.
One interesting thing I have seen is, unlike in DoNs where the big stacks will often call short stacks’ all-ins to end the tournament, more skilled big stack players will often not do the same in Fifty50s. This is because, as a big stack, there is ample opportunity to accumulate more chips on the bubble. If the bubble pops and the tournament ends, there is no more money to be made.
Therefore, it can benefit the big stacks to keep the short stacks around as long as possible. As long as there are six players remaining, there are blinds to be stolen. Of course, this strategy is not without risk, as you might end up losing chips before the game ends, but it is a tactic worth considering.
Most importantly, have fun with the new type of tournament.
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