This is my suggested guide to playing DYMs. I have played over 10,000 DYMs on SkyPoker over the course of the last couple of years and have had success at all levels up to the £110 mark.
I started at £2.25, though, and have probably played more £11 DYMs than any other stake. I therefore think that this guide should be most useful for the £2.25 - £11 stakes.
Although I haven't played lower than the £2.25 stakes I am almost certain that anyone wishing to begin at a lower level will find this guide helpful. I am also pretty confident that anyone wishing to play £22+ will find some of the ideas in this guide useful. In any case, building up to the £11 stakes should give anyone all the grounding in DYM play they need to progress from there upwards should they so wish.
DYMs are a superb way to build a bankroll. I cannot say that they are better than cash as cash is not my game, but I have a feeling that they are, especially for newer players or those with smaller bankrolls.
What I will say is that I genuinely believe that anyone can build a 4 figure bankroll in a relatively short period of time if they have a look at DYM strategy and put in a few hours a week playing.
DYMs offer a clear route for progression which I found extremely helpful when I was starting out. You always know where the next level is and what your bankroll requirements are (see later for more on my bankroll management suggestions).
The levels are also close together and progression can happen very quickly at times.
One factor that can really help when moving up is the Sky Poker Rewards scheme on Sky Poker.
Sky Poker Rewards is essentially rakeback and the scheme is very good. Indeed I often found that my move up in levels coincided with my Sky Poker Rewards being paid as the monthly bonus was enough to push my bankroll up to the next required level.
You may have heard people say that, 'DYMs are not poker'. They are of course plainly wrong; DYMs are a form of poker as are all other forms.
That is not to say they are completely without a point, just that they express it badly.
I prefer to think that there is a ‘DYM Mindset' which is required to play DYMs successfully.
To be a winning DYM player you must win more than 55% of all the games you play, leaving only 45% you can lose before you are a losing player.
Imagine you take an exact 50-50 coin-flip in the first hand: 50% of the time you win, doubling your-chip stack to 4000. You may think that is as good as cashing, and it certainly does help, but there will still be games when you lose after doubling up early, trust me.
It does not matter anyway, though, as you have already lost 50% of games and are a losing player. When you think that QQ vs AKs is only as small as a 54% favourite, you will see why I advocate a super tight strategy in the early stages of DYMs. I suspect this is what people mean when they say that DYMs ‘are not poker'.
Collin Moshman, in his bible on STTs, "Sit ‘n Go Strategy", explains what happens when 2 plays take a coin-flip in the early stages of a sit and go and it is also true of DYMs.
Suffice it to say here that both of the players involved in the flip are long-term equity losers, and everyone else at the table are long-term equity winners.
If you do not see why this is then just imagine someone getting knocked out first hand and you are now 5 handed, does this not make you feel closer to the cash? It does because you are.
If that still doesn't help then imagine the player who doubles up goes onto knock out 2 more players. You have now cashed and your equity has doubled from your initial buy-in (e.g. £5) to the return (e.g. £10). So it should be apparent that you gain equity every time someone else got knocked out.
Incidentally, this is one of the things I find most attractive about DYMs. Next time you're playing and there's 1 or 2 early knockouts, just think about the money (in the form of equity) that just landed in your pocket without you even doing anything, tell me that's not a good feeling.
I will end this section with an example.
Suppose you are on the bubble and there is a player who has been away all game. He is down to 200 chips with the big blind at 150, and he faces the big blind next hand. You have 2,800 chips and the other 2 players have 4,000 and 5,000 respectively. You pick up AA on the button.
If you do not see that this is an insta-fold or you just cannot tolerate the thought of folding AA unopened in any circumstances then you do not currently have the ‘DYM Mindset' and should work on it before playing.
The‘away' player is guaranteed to lose this game. Shoving or doing anything else other than folding is pure reckless. This may seem an extreme example, and it is, but it does illustrate the ‘DYM Mindset' well. I would estimate that I have open folded AA (on purpose) around 15 times during the course of my DYM career.
Early Stages (Levels 1-2)
The early stages of a DYM are the easiest to define proper strategy for. Following on from the section on ‘DYM Mindset' above, it should be clear that I recommend a super tight approach to these first 2 levels. As such my approach can be plainly stated as follows:
AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK. Raise or 3-bet all of these hands from any position. Fold JJ, AK to a 4-bet or to a 3-bet in front of you. Look to get it in pre-flop with AA, KK regardless of action. Facing a 4-bet all-in with QQ you will largely have a judgement call. To call here you need to be relatively happy that the opponent is very often doing this smaller pairs. Against a DYM reg, you would always fold QQ to a 4-bet all-in as they can never be making that play with JJ or worse. In a £5.50 DYM (or lower), against an unknown, I would be almost certain that calling would show a profit in the long term.
Fold everything else. There are the odd exceptions to this which are largely when you have a pocket pair (or suited connectors), you can get into a multi-way pot cheap, and you are closing (or virtually closing) the action. A good example would be making up the small blind with a pocket pair when there have been multiple limpers or a min raise UTG followed by 3 callers. You should always keep in mind, though, that you are playing only for set value. As an example, in a 5 way pot in levels 1 and 2 I would recommend folding 10-10 on a 9 high board in the face of any action.
The above approach may seem overly tight and indeed I did describe it as ‘super tight'.
However, the cardinal sin in a DYM is going broke in the early stages and this approach will ensure that it takes the mother of all coolers to make sure it happens to you. (If you remember that you can only lose 45% of DYMs before you are a losing player then it becomes clear why I describe exiting in the early stages as a cardinal sin.)
Top pair, top kicker or better. Raise and re-raise looking to get it all in on the flop. You almost certainly have the best hand here and want to get as much money in as possible. Also, you should always fire 2 streets and usually 3 for value.
To play these hands any differently (i.e. exercise some pot control or even fold) would require some combination of the following factors:
The pot (inadvertently) went multi-way before the flop
The board is super scary (i.e. straightening and flushing)
You have a real read on your opponent
Your opponent is a DYM reg who cannot be applying pressure without having top pair beaten
A pair worse than top pair, top kicker (e.g. JJ on a K-10-5 board). Here I recommend c-betting the flop but giving up to any action and even check/folding the flop when you get flat called. I think the opponent here has a K too often to make any other play profitable in a DYM.
AK overcards to the board. Play as above. Virtually always c-bet and give up if you get action and don't hit the turn. If you do hit the turn, keep betting for value. There's one situation where I would check back AK on the flop and that's when I pick up a gut-shot to the nut straight or a nut flush draw to go with my overcards and I am facing an aggressive opponent. Here I think checking back is fine as you have so many outs but still wouldn't like to face a raise before making your hand.
Some kind of draw on the odd occasion you played suited connectors. Play mostly according to pot odds so long as it is cheap comparative to the effective stacks and you are reasonably certain of closing the action.
Air when you played suited connectors. Check/fold regardless of action. Don't bluff multi-way as it is pointless.
You can see from the above that I advocate c-betting close to 100% of flops. This is absolutely fine and you shouldn't be afraid of ‘being found out'. If you look at the hand ranges you are playing you will see that you have a hand I recommend going all the way with a significant amount of the time after the flop.
Middle Stages (Levels 3-5)
The middle stages begin in level 3 or 4.
Personally I open up my game slightly from level 3 onwards when the big blind is at 50.
You are, of course, playing all of the hands from the early stages and in the exact same way.
All you are doing in the middle stages is trying to steal a few blinds to maintain a healthy stack.
The hands I am really looking for here are any hands that have a fair chance of making top pair, good kicker, or second pair at worse.
So I will raise with 99+, K10+, Q10+, J10+. If I get 3 bet pre-flop I fold all of these hands (unless I get a great price to call in position).
If I get flatted pre-flop, then my post flop strategy is the same as in the early stages, if I make top pair, good kicker (as opposed to top kicker in the early stages) then I am going all the way with the hand.
The factors that would change this (on rare occasions) are the same as those listed earlier.
With tight blinds behind you, you could certainly consider raising 77+ and K9, Q9, J9 as well.
Personally, I like to fold small pocket pairs even on the button and unopened. This might seem like poor poker but DYMs are too shallow to do anything else in my opinion. Small pocket pairs do not play well enough post-flop for me.
Late Stages (Levels 6+)
Although it's no exact science when the late stages of a DYM begin I have always found that it's usually in level 6 when the big blind is 200.
There is a golden rule for late stage play which Moshman expounded in "Sit 'n Go Strategy'. He called it the ‘fundamental theorem' and it is as follows:
YOU MUST NEVER ALLOW YOURSELF TO GET BLINDED OUT
This rule applies equally to DYMs as it does to standard STTs and it is the reason a lot of SkyPoker players will have seen me shove with absolute junk from any position on occasion.
Over the course of my DYM career I paid a lot of attention to when I was in danger of breaking the above rule and therefore at what point I needed to shove all-in regardless of my cards or position.
The following table shows the stage where I think you are desperate and need to make a move before the blinds hit you once more (e.g. if your chip stack is lower than the one stated then I recommend shoving 8-3 UTG the next hand):
|Your stack||Big Blind|
This table is shaped by thousands of DYMs' worth of experience but I recommend anyone to try out their own figures and am open to suggestions about how the figures might be improved.Also I should state that, while the above table is extremely useful as a guide, it is just that, a guide. Below is a non-exhaustive list of some of the factors that might affect your thinking when looking at these figures:
* The presence of one or more micro stacks (i.e. virtually dead players)
* The presence of two or more maniacs who are showing no appreciation of DYM strategy and are constantly going to war with each other, regardless of the short stack at the table
* Still having a full table in the late stages. This is relatively rare but may prevent you from shoving the very worst hands as getting through 5 players is going to prove difficult
* The presence of an away player
While I am looking at the table, I want to mention a side issue relating to the clock in DYMs.
Because the blind levels are only 5 minutes and a hand could take a minute to play out, the following happens very frequently. I recommend this strategy during late game play:
If you are facing a shove/fold decision during the late stages of a DYM and there are 30 seconds or less left in the current level, then play the hand as though you are already in the next level.
This is because, to all intents and purposes, you actually are.
The above table is also useful for looking at when it is acceptable to call an all-in in the late stages.
Generally, of course, calling all-in is to be avoided and my general rule is to not do anything that is unnecessary (see the example earlier under ‘DYM Mindset' about folding AA pre-flop).
However, when you reach the amounts stated in the table you are desperate and may need to call all-in if necessary.
This will often be a judgement call depending on your reads on the shover and the positions at the table but as a general guide, if I was desperate according to the table, I would call all-in with 88+, A10+ (see below for my ‘them or me' exception where I would call with any 2 cards).
One play I would like to mention as it occurs so frequently in the late stages of DYMs is the ‘cooperation play' (Harrington's term, taken from his tournament poker series, Moshman refers to it as ‘implicit collusion').
The crucial idea here is that it is always beneficial for bigger stacks to call a short-stacks' all-in and check the hand down to try and knock them out. It is obvious that 2 vs. 1 stand a better chance of winning than 1 vs. 1.
Regularly (particularly at £11 stakes and below) I see people betting into dry side pots when there is a short-stack all-in.
This is a huge mistake and should never be done unless you are 100% (literally) to win the hand (e.g. you flop a royal flush).
The ‘cooperation play' also dictates that you should be willing to spend a few chips to join in the play.
Again, I regularly see mistakes here in the lower stakes. Players fold for a fraction of a big blind because someone has already called the short-stack and this is a leak in their game.
Another spot to look out for in the late stages of DYMs are what I like to call, ‘them or me' spots.
Suppose there are 4 players left. The 2 players first to act have 4,500 chips each. You are in the big blind and you and the small blind both have 1,500 before posting. The big blind is 400. The small blind shoves on you. To me this is a ‘them or me' spot and I recommend calling with any two cards (don't worry about the impending abuse when you win the hand).
The reasoning is simple.
In these spots you will often be 30-40% even with the ugliest of hands. Calling now therefore sees you cash 30-40% of the time. Given the game situation (namely having less than 3 BBs left if you fold and having to shove into the 2 big stacks) I think you cash less than 30-40% of the time if you fold here, so calling is the clear play.
The final play I would like to mention relates to a relatively rare situation which nonetheless does crop up and is very rarely played correctly in my opinion.
Moshman refers to this play in his book and it is best shown by way of an example.
Suppose that the big blind is 400 and you are down to 500 having just taken a bad beat. The action is 4 handed and you are on the button. The chip leader (ill-advisedly) shoves from UTG for 5000. Both blinds have 3250 in chips before posting the blinds. This is a clear spot where you must call with any two cards. You are dead in this game, but the big stack has just offered you the semblance of a life line and you should take it. You have to put your last 500 in for a chance to win a pot of 1600 and just maybe get back into the game. In my experience, this weird play by the big stack is almost always AK anyway so you are rarely in that bad a shape at all.
Note taking is crucial to successful DYM play for 2 reasons.
Firstly, if you intend on playing any stakes regularly you will meet the same opposition again and again and you will need notes on them.
Secondly, DYMs are short, shallow games that can turn on one decision and often do.
Consider that you raise 3x 150 from the button and the BB flats. There is 975 in the pot and you both have 1700 back. This pot is now extremely important, obviously. Now the BB donk bets for 150, what do you do? This is certainly strong or weak and the BB will either call or fold if you shove.
I can't say how many of these pots I have won simply by having a note on a player that's says, ‘weak donk bet is weak'. (Incidentally, I am finding at the moment that 90% of weak donk bets are weak and will fold to a shove although I think this is one of those areas of poker that just goes round in circles as time passes).
The following are the things I most like to make notes on in DYMs and are again guided by experience:
HBLs. That is to say, ‘high blind limpers' and again I have taken this idea straight from Moshman. There is an incredible amount of people (mainly up to £11 DYMs) who will limp into pots (and then fold to a shove) when the blinds are so high that it just shouldn't be done. When one of these people limps into the pot, I am more willing to shove as the reward is much greater for only very slightly more risk.
Other ‘great sources of chips'. I am thinking of 2 things here mainly. The first is people who over-bet shove in the early levels. E.g. someone who raises small with AA then just shoves any flop. I am obviously willing to pay a small price to set mine against this player. The second is people who over-raise late on. There are a significant number of people out there who raise 5x BB when the blind is 150 (or more!!) with small pocket pairs and 2.5x BB with premium pairs. This is such a great spot for you if you can wake up with 10-10+ and should see you coast into the cash.
Steal frequencies/sizes. Stealing is rife in DYMs and 1 or 2 well-timed resteals will frequently see you cash. Look for players who raise constantly, these are obviously best. I should also note here that re-stealing is a much more effective play in the £22+ DYMs, in my experience. It can also be effective at smaller stakes but you should have an idea before you try it that your opponent is good enough to fold a failed steal attempt and not get stubborn.
Some general idea of their style, i.e. tight aggressive, loose aggressive, tight passive or loose passive. You should take care when making these notes and review them constantly as in the future you are going to rely on them at some point.
What a donk bet indicates from them (as explained in the example above). Note whether it's a weak or a strong donk bet as this will usually make a difference.
The hands they're willing to stack off with in the early stages.
Their shoving/calling ranges late on.
General Points on Raise/Bet Sizing
This is perhaps an area that it best left to personal preference.
I always raise 4x BB levels 1 and 2, 3x BB up to and including levels 4 and 5 and 2.5x BB thereafter.
I do not believe this to be optimal as the raises are on the large side late on and therefore c-bets are also larger.
However, I made the decision to continue doing this as 2.5x raises were not getting respect when I graduated to £11 DYMs whereas 3x ones were.
Now I stick with them for convenience when multi-tabling and also some meta-game purposes.
I think the pros probably just about justify the cons for me.What I would say to a newer player is to look at making smaller raises earlier on, say 2.5x BB from level 4 onwards and also min raises from level 7 onwards.
I think the standard has improved a bit since I was moving up and I think smaller raises will get more respect now. Certainly, though, my approach that I have outlined above can still be implemented profitably.
Regarding bet sizing in general, again it will be up to the individual player mostly.
Personally, I believe that the best approach is to always raise/c-bet the exact same amount (e.g. ¾ pot on wet boards, ½ pot on dry boards etc) every time. This is simply ‘mixing it up' by not mixing it up at all and I find that it works very well and is also a very practical approach to take if you are multi-tabling.
Bankroll Management and Table Selection
Personally, I think that 20 buy-ins is enough for any player who wants to steadily build a bankroll playing only 1 or 2 tables.
What I would recommend is that, when you reach 22 buy-ins for the next level, you take your 2 ‘free shots' at it and hopefully never look back.
If you do lose both of them, of course, you simply move back down until you have 22 again.
If you are multi-tabling, say 4-6 tables, I would definitely prefer to have over 40 buy-ins.
If you are multi-tabling more and are playing DYMs seriously/full time I would recommend 100 but then I'm a bankroll nit and I'm sure 50 or 60 would be fine.
With regards to table selection, there really isn't that much to say. If you intend to put in any volume during the day, then you are probably going to have to play whatever is available.
Table selection shouldn't really be required up to the £11 level anyway.
One thing that I will say is that the general time that you play can have a big difference.
Evenings and weekends are much softer than during weekdays, for obvious reasons.
In my experience, £22 DYMs on a Thursday through Sunday night play exactly the same as £5.50 and £11 ones during a weekday.
I have also played my fair share of £55 ones on these nights that have been softer than a £5.50 weekday one. This will suit anyone who works during the day anyway.
For anyone who does intend to play weekdays, I would recommend using the evenings to ‘take shots' and get off to a good start when moving up levels.
I think that is everything I wanted to mention about DYM play. I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide and I hope that it has been helpful to you. I welcome any comments/feedback/criticisms/discussion etc.
Author: 'JohnConnor', September 2011.
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