It’s hard to imagine a poker tournament with more furious action than A-5 Triple Draw Sit-n-Go’s. With a wide-open range of winning hand possibilities and three drawing chances to catch them, more can happen in just a few hands of A-5 Triple Draw than in many other entire tournaments.
Typically when table action gets this aggressive, the best strategy is to tighten up and wait. But there’s so much action that you risk letting the tournament slip through your fingers if you wait too long, because everyone else will be quadrupling their stacks or going out. You need to get in there if you’re going to win, and that means opening up your starting hand selection a little bit.
Loosening up doesn’t mean going crazy with junk hands, it means taking a few calculated risks at the right time and letting your opponents know they’re going to have to pay to play you. When you do get in there with a speculative hand, you should bet fairly aggressively; you want to force your opponents to respect your hand because then you control the action. You can slow-play your premium hands now and then to confuse your opponents, but don’t make it a habit; with three drawing rounds, you want to give as few opponents as possible the chance to outdraw you.
The Game Begins
Early in the tournament the blinds are very low relative to your stack size, so speculating a little more is pretty safe; if you pay attention you can usually get out from underneath a missed draw pretty cheaply. All it takes is a few good hands (and a couple lucky catches) to give you the edge in later rounds with a bigger chip stack. Just don’t get caught up in the lure of the draw; if you’re still drawing two cards to an 8-high hand by the second draw and your opponent is standing pat and betting hard, save your money… he’s got you beat, even if he’s bluffing.
The middle rounds are a little tricky because the blinds are climbing, the stacks are shrinking and a lot of players are tightening up trying to limp to the bubble. Bottling up the action like this is how explosions can happen; suddenly a player who’s been quiet all night suddenly hits what he thinks it a winner and throws all in against one or two other callers. Unless you have the absolute nuts or very close to it, I’d fold out of this mess… with so much riding on the hand there’s no reason to risk it in this situation.
But bubble-limpers are pretty easy targets for bigger stacks to pick on, and they’re a great way to ease the burden of the blinds and maybe add a few chips to your stack. Sometimes they’ll fold if you force them into a decision that risks them finishing in the money, and sometimes they’ll call with junk just out of desperation. You don’t need a great hand in either case, just a 3-4x bigger stack, but the stronger your hand the better.
All that chip raking is going to come in handy in these last rounds; the blinds are very high and players are desperate. If your stack is better than average, you can afford to tighten up a little and choose your battles a little more carefully. If your stack is huge compared to the other players, getting aggressive and forcing the smaller stacks into bad decisions is often profitable, both in the short term and long run. If you’re stack is anything under average size, you’re going to have to loosen up and take some chances. Bet aggressively, perhaps even all-in; you don’t want to have to face very many opponents when you’re weak. Don’t throw your money away on junk; too many of the big stacks will call you simply because the risk is so low. Make sure you have a viable hand and play it to the hilt… and good luck.