ONLINE STRATEGY SESSION #2: Sit & Go’s, Short Stacks, and More with Maria Ho

December 17, 2020
ONLINE STRATEGY SESSION #2: Sit & Go’s, Short Stacks, and More with Maria Ho

Maria Ho may be one of the busiest people in poker. That includes commentating on major events on the PokerGO streaming service and ESPN.

Her schedule also includes regular speaking gigs via the PepTalk coaching app. Ho’s poker and communication skills have certainly paid off. In 2019 she won the Global Poker Award for broadcaster of the year.

At the tables she’s earned $4 million in live tournament winnings including five World Series of Poker final table appearances. Ho’s resumé includes four World Poker Tour final tables and a WPTDeepstacks title.

Ranked among the top five female players in the world, she became the youngest member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame in 2018.

Players looking to improve their online poker skills will find Ho has plenty to offer. She spoke with USPoker about sit and go strategy, satellite survival, and dealing with hyper-aggressive players.

Some sit & go, satellite strategy advice

When it comes to these single-table tournaments, Ho says it’s not ideal to turn up the aggression early. Stay focused and avoid spots where you’d have to risk a lot of chips. She sees these events as similar to how one might play a satellite.

“My general strategy is to take a fairly conservative approach until the later stages,” Ho says. “It’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter how many chips you end up with at the end as long as you qualify.

“Finding opportunities to chip up in low variance pots that don’t involve a lot of confrontation is a great way to put yourself in a qualifying chip position.”

Expanding on that scenario, maybe a player has been smart and won a few nice pots. That player has now built a nice chip stack and may be looking to adjust to this situation.

Maria Ho jumping in the World Poker Tour commentary booth with Vince Van Patten at the HyperX Esports Arena. (photo courtesy WPT)

How does a player handle a big stack in a sit & go or satellite when with quite a few players left? Ho says it’s important to not become too aggressive. Forget those ideas of running the table with any two cards.

“Make sure to not over-pace yourself as the big stack,” she says. “It’s easy to fall in the trap of wanting to play every pot and bully other players as the big stack.”

That doesn’t mean to avoid engaging. Make some moves with good cards, especially toward players with smaller stacks.

“If you are getting close to the bubble then there is definitely a huge advantage to being increasingly aggressive as the big stack when most players are in survival mode,” she says. “But pay close attention to the game flow and shift gears when necessary.”

Battling aggression from the blinds and working up a short stack

Every player has been there. Each time you’re on the small or big blind, the same player keeps putting in a hefty raise right near the button. How do you battle these players and defend those blinds?

“If the effective stack size is still fairly deep, then consider peeling a bit wider especially when facing small raises,” Ho advises. “Getting to the flop is a good way to realize your equity especially against a wide opening range.”

In the opposite scenario of the previous section, playing a short stack well is also important. What are some things to keep in mind when trying to work a small chip stack back up?

Maria Ho battles is out at a WPT final table in Las Vegas. (photo courtesy WPT)

Staying in control and not feeling the need to just “get it in” is key. Knowing your opponents at the table also helps.

“Nowadays there is a lot more maneuverability with a short stack than previously exercised,” she says. “You can peel from the big blind against a min raise much more liberally than before.

“The best tip I can give on working a short stack up is to not to allow desperation or panic to creep in. Instead focus your energy on finding a good spot to shove and honing in on your opponents’ preflop ranges to gain more insight on how to play your hands accordingly.”

Bonus advice on folding from Maria Ho

Obviously, folding is a major part of poker. Key folds can extend a player’s life in a tournament or help avoid big losses in a cash game.

It may hurt to lay down a big hand, but sometimes players have to think long term in these situations. Ho recently took to Twitter to offer players some advice on the subject.

To follow Maria Ho on Instagram click here. To book her for a PepTalk speaking or coaching session, click here.

For the first edition of Online Poker Strategy Session with Jonathan Little, click here.

Photos courtesy WPT

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