There is really one deciding factor between top SNG players and mediocre SNG players if we take into account the effect of ICM for a minute. This is in the appraisal and awareness that strong players have of the situations in which they can pick up chips that other players may miss. You need to be looking to pick up chips in SNG’s and US online Poker Tournaments in general at all times. Let us say that you have a stack of T10,000 out of the T15,000 in circulation in a ten man SNG with four players remaining.
The top three players are paid as usual but this is where a lot of players switch into automatic pilot mode and is exactly where they go wrong. Just because you have 10,000 doesn’t mean that you are a lock to win this tournament if you rock up now. You have to remember that there are still 5000 in chips that are not in your stack and if one player had to get their hands on all of those chips then suddenly you only have a 2/1 chip lead.
This quickly becomes 2/1 to your opponent with a single all in defeat in one hand. But what tends to happen when you stop trying to accumulate chips is that you lose chips back into general circulation. Your 10k stack becomes 8k and the other two players get knocked out meaning that your opponent has 7k and is almost a coin flip to take first place. However with three opponents left then you could have stolen a lot of chips by using a combination of our stack size and the fact that your shorter stacked opponents would have been trying to survive until the money and to outlast each other!y
So you could have easily won an extra couple of thousand in chips by this stage and gone into a heads up encounter later down the line with a huge commanding chip lead. Planning your moves ahead in this instance is the difference between coming first and second. It is the difference between 50% of the tournament prize pool and 30%. Over the long run then it could easily be the difference between being a successful player or not. The best players know when to continue pushing irrespective of their stack size.