Super Systems: Fischman

Where we put the most rigid poker systems through their paces
in a quest for money without talent. This month: Fischman

The System

This system gets a 'PASS'

Scott Fischman’s ‘sit-and-go’ strategy (from Online Ace)

The Game

$100 worth of online single-table tournaments (3 x $10, 1 x $20, 1 x $50)

How we got on

WSOP winner Scott Fischman is a self-taught poker player who has put together hints and tips garnered from thousands of hands played online in his book Online Ace. Scott advises breaking down STTs into three stages: the beginning, middle and endgame. We decided to follow his sit-and-go strategy to the letter.

The beginning
In the early stages of a tournament, Fischman advises a low-risk, high-reward approach. Only raise with ‘extra-premium’ hands: Jacks through Aces and A-K. He recommends a raise of five times the big blind as anything smaller risks picking up multiple callers.

During this stage if there’s been no raise then call with any pair lower than Jacks in an attempt to flop a set. If you don’t hit fold to any bet, otherwise check the board down. Likewise, call with any suited Ace, aiming to flop a flush. If you’re four to a flush on the flop call a bet if it’s not too expensive. Fold if one of these calling hands is raised in these early stages.

The middle
Once you, or a couple of your opponents, have a chip stack that’s only eight times the big blind it’s time to switch playing style. Lower your raises to two-and-a-half times the big blind when targeting short-stacks. They’ll be looking to move all-in rather than call when they pick up a decent hand, so you can choose to call (with a good hand) or fold (with a weak one), but many times you’ll just take the blinds as they’ll fold waiting for a better spot.

If it’s you that falls below eight times the big blind then you’re looking for spots to push all-in. Eight times the big blind, claims Scott, is enough to price out callers without a premium hand and, if you get called and win, you’ve got enough to make a healthy double-up.

When making this all-in move look to see if someone has bet out before you as they’d be getting odds to call your shove. Also, the later position you are the less likely you’ll be to run into a monster hand. Average-size stacks are also the least likely to call, so target these for blind steals. After all, big-stacks can take the hit while short-stacks may call out of desperation.

The endgame
When you’re one off the money players tighten up, trying to avoid being the bubble. Fischman advises otherwise. Get as many chips at this point as possible to put yourself into a winning position. It’s all-in-or-fold time and opponents are only going to call with premium hands, which don’t come along very often. Any blinds you pick up not only win you chips but keep them out of someone else’s pocket. When the bubble bursts, many of your last few decisions will continue to be all-in or fold. Unless you pick up a big hand make sure you’re the one pushing.

The system saw us take one first place, two thirds and become the bubble twice, despite being a big favourite pre-flop (A-A vs 8-8 and QQ vs A-Q). So, despite showing only a slight profit in this test, the system should be more profitable in the long-term.


$126 back from $100 (+$10) If Q-Q hadn’t lost to A-Q and A-A to 8-8 we’d have been laughing.

Lessons Learnt

One thing this does teach you is that there’s not a huge amount of point picking up small pots in the early stages of a sit-and-go tournament. The low-risk, high-reward approach means that you’re only looking to double-up in the early stages before opening up aggressively later, with lots of all-in pushes that opponents will hate.

Pin It

Comments are closed.