Get Your Grind on in Sit & Go Tournaments

Learn all about the nuances of sit & go poker

Sit & Go tournaments are a great way to introduce yourself to tournament poker. Hundreds, if not thousands, of the game’s best players cut their teeth in sit & Go games.

The next few hundred words will show you why sit & go tournaments are great for new and seasoned players. You’ll learn a solid basic strategy that allows you to seriously get your grind on.

The Basics of Sit & Go Tournaments

SNG, the abbreviation of sit & go games, are single table tournaments that are extremely popular in online poker. They run around the clock so it’s rare for you not to find a game whenever you want to play.

Nine-handed and six-handed are the most popular formats. Heads-up and even multi-table sit & go tournaments also run regularly.

These games start as soon as the table is full and continue until only one player remains. Nine-handed games pay out the top three finishers, typically. First place receives 50% of the prize pool, the runner-up banks 30%, with the third-place finisher securing the remaining 20%.

Six-handed games tend to pay the top two finishers with a 70-30 split.

Why Are Sit & Go Games a Good Introduction to Tournament Poker?

Sit & Go games are a great way to learn the nuances of tournament poker. You play with chips instead of cash for a start. Each tournament has three distinct stages, much like an MTT. There’s a clear early stage, bubble stage, and in-the-money period.

Think of this format as being seated at a tournament’s final table. There’s a slight difference in that everyone starts with the same number of chips, but Sit & Go tournaments are great for honing your final table skills.

This fast-paced format teaches you all about ICM (Independent Chip Modelling), plus shoving and calling ranges. These skills are vital to continued success in tournament poker.

Is There an SNG Strategy You Can Employ?

SNG have been around since almost the very start of online poker. Tens of millions of such tournaments are confined to the history books. Some of the world’s best Sit & Go grinders studied the game to the nth degree and have essentially solved this format.

Playing a Game Theory Optimal (GTO) strategy is now required to win at the highest buy-in levels. Lower down the food chain, however, you can get away with adopting a basic strategy.

The term “tight is right” is perfect for the early stages of a sit & go tournament. Your initial goal is to make it to the bubble. Fold equity is everything around this period so you need chips in your arsenal. Splashing around in pots when the SNG is in its infancy isn’t the best idea.

Adopt a tight-aggressive style of play in the early stages, paying attention to your position at the table. Position is everything in tournaments, including SNG games. You tend to find a handful of your opponents play the same as you, with the rest going all out to build a stack.

Try building your stack through solid play, good starting hand selection, and set mining.

Ensure you pay full attention to the stack sizes of your opponents. The general rule of thumb is to attack those players who have the most to lose. These are the medium stacks. Short stacked players switch to an all-in or bust style and will jam all-in on you. Big stacks may call you out of spite because they can afford to lose chips.

On The Bubble and Into the Money

The bubble is a crucial time of a sit & go and one where you can accumulate a lot of chips. Twenty percent of the prize pool is awarded to third-place (in a nine-handed game) while fourth busts with nothing to show for their time invested.

This stage usually sees one big stack and everyone else short or relatively short. Learning pushing and calling ranges is something you need to do. There are plenty of tools out there to help you learn how much equity you need to call a shove and what hands they are.

Pushing all-in or folding should be your default play with a stack of 15 big blinds or fewer. This included effective stacks where you have, say, 35 big blinds and are on the button but the players in the blinds have six big blinds and 12 big blinds. The effective stack here is 12 big blinds, therefore shoving with any playable hand is best.

The real action starts once the bubble pops. You’ve locked up 20% of the prize pool regardless of what happens next, but first-place awards 50% of the money. Do everything you can to secure the top prize. It’s sometimes best to allow your other two opponents slug it out if they’re intent on locking horns with each other. You can ladder up a payout space if one takes out the other. Keep your fingers crossed that Lady Luck is on your side and you manage to take down your sit & go.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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