MTT Sit and Go Software

Date: 2010-01-06
Author: Chris Wallace

My New Year's resolution is to play more tournaments and, to get started with that, I spent a little time getting my software set up to make it easier for myself. Now that things are arranged correctly, I can see how playing six or eight tables of these tournaments while maintaining a reasonable ROI is very doable. I can also imagine how tough it would be to make any real money in these tournaments without a good software setup.

I started with TableNinjaFT, which is currently in a free Beta test, and I highly recommend it. I paired Table Ninja with a wireless number pad that I picked up at my local Office Max for $18 and I'm playing four multi-table sit and go tournaments on my desktop computer as I write this on my laptop. All I need to play is the num pad and I can play from anywhere in the room.

My setup in Table Ninja is very simple. The numbers four, five, and six are set to correspond to the three action buttons. I just looked over at the screen, saw Q-4, and hit the number four on the pad sitting next to my laptop. Table Ninja folded my hand instantly and now I'm back to writing. If I wanted to go all-in, I would have just hit the number zero and Table Ninja would put the slider all the way to the right and make the bet for me.

My problem with playing more than four or six tables has always been that the tables are either fairly small or they have to overlap and I can't see what happened on a previous hand without clicking around, looking for the table, and finding the results of the hand. To solve this problem, I set up Table Ninja to cycle through the tables with the eight key on the number pad and now I can zip through quickly. Table Ninja also surrounds the active table with a red border, so I can tell very quickly which one needs attention.

I've found that if I set my tables up in clockwise order, I can move through them in a way that makes sense with the cycle key. Setting up the default bets in Table Ninja will help to avoid any need for picking up the mouse, although I still haven't found a good setup for dealing with raise sizes according to the number of limpers. I submitted this as a request to the folks at Table Ninja, so this issue may be dealt with very soon.

This setup really only uses a very small fraction of what TableNinjaFT can do, but I can't imagine things getting any easier until they are able to put an implant in my head so I can just think "fold" and watch it happen. Playing multiple tables is much easier with multi-table sit and gos because correct play is so simple for most of the tournament. Very tight play in the first few blind levels makes the beginning of the tournament simple to play and, at later levels, most decisions are all-in or fold.

Of course, once you start playing more than a few tables, it's tough to get accurate reads on your opponents. To solve this problem, I use Holdem Manager and set up a specific Heads-Up Display (HUD) for these tournaments. My HUD has two lines of information, one above and one below the player's name and stack size at the Full Tilt Poker table.

The top line displays the player's auto-rate icon, their tournament M, and the number of hands that the tracking software has seen for them. The auto-rate rules would be an article by themselves, so I'll just say that most of my auto-rate rules for tournaments are based on pre-flop stats. Each player is assigned an icon based on which set of rules they fall within. If a player has a VPIP of less than 12%, a rock icon displays in the top line of the HUD.

The tournament M that displays in the top line of stats in the HUD is color-coded according the Harrington numbers, so if the player has an M of 11, the number will display in yellow; each zone has its representative color. The third stat in the top line is the number of hands, which tells me how accurate the rest of the stats are. I like the top line using these three stats because it gives me a basic idea of what I know about a player and how accurate that information is. With the icon, their M, and the number of hands, I don't always even need the second line of stats.

The second line of the HUD provides more in-depth information. Cash game players may notice that all of the stats in my HUD are based on pre-flop play, which would be a significant mistake in deep-stacked cash games. In tournament play, it's tough to get more than a few hundred hands on an opponent and, with a small sample size, most post-flop statistics aren't very accurate or useful, so sticking with pre-flop stats in a tournament HUD is usually the best idea. I went with four stats in the bottom line of my HUD, none of which are color-coded.

The first two stats are VPIP and PFR, which give me a good idea about how tight or loose and passive or aggressive an opponent is pre-flop. This tells me how much I can respect their pre-flop raises and what range I can re-raise them with.

The next two stats are based on stealing blinds, stats that become very important in the later levels when the blinds become the driving force in the game. The Attempt to Steal stat helps me assign a range of hands to my opponents' late position pre-flop raises and determine how often I can re-steal against them. The Fold vs Steal stat tells me how often I can attack an opponent's blinds, very valuable information when the blinds are high and you are in late position with a chance to steal.

It took me a few hours to set everything up and I recommend sticking with two tables of very low limits so that you can get it done quickly and any misclicks won't be too expensive. If you are looking for a number pad, I like the cheap Targus model AKP01, although it's plastic and may not last forever. I also prefer the HUD in Holdem Manager, but PokerTracker 3 does a fine job too. There are AHK scripts that will probably do most of the things that Table Ninja does for me, but I have had better luck with Table Ninja than anything else I have used for this kind of thing and it does everything you need in one program.

Now that I have everything set up, I think I'm ready to start grinding. Hopefully, I'll see you at some final tables.

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