18-Man Turbo Sit n Go Walkthrough

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18-man sit n go’s are a solid game to play. They only take about 45 minutes to complete from start to cash, and depending on the stakes and how many tables you play at once, you can easily make a hourly rate of $15-$25 at the micro-small stakes.

18-mans have less room for error compared to the larger field sit n go’s. The good news is that if you can make it in these games, you should have no problem being profitable in other turbo sit n go’s you choose to play.

Below I walk through the stages of an 18-man to give you an idea of the approach you need to take with your strategy.

Note: Keep in mind that this applies to the turbo 18-mans that you can find on PokerStars, and possibly some of the sites on the Merge Network.

Overview of Our 18-Man Strategy

Ok, so if you’ve never played an 18-man before, the top 4 places pay out (40-30-20-10) and each level is 5 minutes long. Players start with 1,500 chips and antes kick in at the 100/200/25 level, after the normal 100/200 level.

Our strategy is very simple. What we’re going to do is start off tight and then explode – twice; once on the first table, and then again on the final table. This strategy will work because if we’re tight early on, we’ll build fold equity for when we decide to explode and play lots of hands.

Using this strategy we should be able to build a stack to outlast the final table, as well as give us a workable stack for the money bubble.

Ok, so there’s the overview of our strategy. Let’s go into each stage in more detail.

The Early Stages

The early stages are going to be the 10-20 to about 50/100 level. This is the very beginning when both tables are full. We should hardly ever bust during these stages, other than running bad with our premium hands or a coolers with our made monsters.

Although your starting hand range will (should) vary, a good starting point is KQ+, AT+ and all pocket pairs. At the lower stakes, you want to raise your KQ and aces, but your pocket pairs it make more sense to (over)limp and set mine. You’re just not going to be able to raise and c-bet the flop (and get folds) very often, so I’d just try to get in cheap.

Hands like AK or AQ you need to play patiently. Don’t make the mistake other players make and stack off during the early stages. You’re essentially flipping – even when you’re ahead, it’s not by much. You’re a better player than that, so don’t reduce your edge over everyone by taking thin spots like this. Not to mention that you’re going to bust more often taking flips with AK, which means you’ll experience more swings.

The only thing we should try to do during these stages is play our big hands, and otherwise stay tight to build our tight image or “fold equity.” We’ll need it coming up for the final table bubble.

Final Table Bubble

The final table bubble will be the point in the game when there is 10-12 players left, 5-6 for each table. The final table bubble is going to be the stages 50/100, 75/150 and often times the 100/200 no antes stage. If players are busting the tournament slower than usual, there might be the 100/200/25 level, too.

It’s during this stage that we want to exploit our tight image. Most players don’t adjust for short handed play very well; they have too tight of ranges. So we’ll take advantage of this by opening more hands than usual to steal the blinds. Even when the occasional player calls you preflop, you can often times pick up the (larger) pot by placing a 2/3 pot c-bet.

Our goal for this stage is to maintain, and preferably build our stack so that we can tighten back up on the final table.

Last thing – if the early stage went on for a long time, and/or you lost apart of your stack, you might find that you’re short during this stage. Keep in mind that once you’re around the 10 big blind level that you’ll want to use your push/fold strategy. Since the tables will be short-handed, you’re range will be need to be wider (you can’t wait for solid hands) because the blinds will come around more often, eating away at your stack.

The Final Table 0f an 18-Man

Ok, so now we’re on the final table. The blinds will be between 100/200 and 300/600/50. Stacks are usually between 10 and 20 big blinds, so you usually won’t have too much room for messing around. It’s during this stage that we want to tighten up again to rebuild our fold equity, and let other players bust the tournament.

To be clear though, I wouldn’t necessarily stick to the same range as earlier. I would loosen up a little depending on the players to your left. You’ll want to be careful of short(er) stacks that can reshove, or loose players that don’t like to fold preflop or to c-bets on the flop. Other than that, definitely try to pick up the blinds here and there. Pots with antes can significantly add to your stack.

Also, you will want to be on the lookout for short stacks. Isolating them at this stage can also give your stack a healthy boost. That said, one mistake that many players make is that they iso whenever they figure they’re ahead and have the stack to do it. Be sure to weigh the pros/cons of winning and losing before you iso a short stack. If you can lose and still maintain your current standings in the tournament, or maybe lose one spot, then go for it. But if it will screw up your standings (you can go from 1st or 2nd to last, for example) then I would suggest passing.

The Money Bubble

Alright, so this is the last stage before making it into the money. This is also the most stressful stage, as it’s possible to play for a half hour only to leave empty handed. The blinds around the bubble will be 400/800/50 and 600/1200/75, and the game usually ends around the 600/1200 or 800/1600 level.

Once again, we’re going to use our tight-ish image to explode on the bubble. The idea here is to outlast the bubble, as well as make it into the money with a stack that can land us in the top 2 payouts. 18-mans are very top heavy with their payout structure, so we want to avoid 3rd and 4th whenever possible.

What we want to do here is try to find spots to gain the chip lead if we don’t already have it, then continue to shove and reshove on players until we’re so deep that we’re able to run over the table. Be aware of any players that might want to play back at you light or spite call (call you light). You’ll want to adjust for this. Other than that, try to run over the table and chip away at the stacks so that by the time you get into the money, you’re all but guaranteed to make the top 2 (out of 4).

Having a standard to deep stack won’t always be the case. Sometimes you’ll be short. In these cases you’ll just have to pick what spots are available, shove and hope not to bust the bubble. It happens though, so don’t worry to much if it happens to you every once in a while.

Making The Money

The best case scenario in the money is having a top two stack. Unlike the bubble where we wanted to abuse the short stacks, since we’re in the money we’ll want to tone back our ranges. For one thing, short stacks that barely make it into the money will have wider ranges (on top of their short stack range) since they’re already guaranteed a pay out. And losing our stacks and taking smaller payouts is horrible ICM wise. So pick your spots well.

And that’s all there is to it for 18-mans, at least in regards to a best case scenario. It’s difficult to get more specific because of stack sizes, opponents and player positions, so you’ll want to adjust your strategy as needed. That said, as time goes on these variables will become 2nd hand nature, and when combined with the basic strategy outlined above, you’ll flat out crush the 18-man sit n go’s.