What Are Sit and Go (SnG's) Tournaments?
(Please note: This article primarily concerns itself with No
Limit Texas Holdem Sit and Go strategy and how to play. Some of the
advice in this article is applicable to other sit-an-go's, but not
necessarily all of it.)
A sit and go poker tournament is a mini-poker tournament with
only one table, although some sites now offer multi-table sit and
go's with 2 tables. (Party
Poker offers this, I know, and some other sites might also, but
I'm not sure which ones.) I like to play SnG's because they give me
the opportunity to get a lot of poker action for a relatively small
amount of money. Party Poker SnG's start at a $5 + $1 buy-in and go
up from there. I recommend playing $10 + $1 buy-in sit and go's
rather than the $5 + $1 buy-in's, because the rake is half as much
and the competition at the $10 + $1 isn't really any more difficult
The buy in for a sit and go tournament makes up the prize
structure. The first figure in the buy-in is the amount of money
you're contributing to the prize pool, and the 2nd number, the
number after the "+" sign, is the fee that the cardroom takes in
lieu of a rake. Normally a one table sit and go pays out to the
first three places, and the prize pool goes like this:
- 1st place gets 50% of the prize pool
- 2nd place gets 30% of the prize pool
- 3rd place gets 20% of the prize pool
Buy-in's for the most common Texas holdem sit and go tournaments
at Party Poker look like this:
- $5 + $1
- $10 + $1
- $20 + $2
- $30 + $3
- $50 + $5
- $100 + $9
The competition's skill level increases as you move up in limit,
but the cutoff between the really soft games and the harder games is
the cutoff between the $30 + $3 and the $50 + $5.
How a Sit and Go Poker Tournament Works
Each player receives a number of chips at the beginning of the
sit and go. At the $30 + $3 levels and below at Party Poker, each
player receives 800 chips. At $50 + $5 and above, the players each
receive 1000 chips. At other sites, like
Poker Stars and
Ultimate Bet, players start with more chips (1500 is common) and
the games play a little longer as a result, and proper strategy
becomes a little less aggressive, since you can wait for better
hands without worrying about the blinds eating up your entire stack.
The blinds at the Party Poker sit and go tournaments go up every
10 hands, although some other sites have a different structure where
the blinds increase based on how much time has elapsed. But this
affects your strategy in the following way: early in the sit and go
tournament, it's smart to play tight, because the blinds are small,
and you don't have a lot to gain from loosening up and getting
aggressive. Later in the tournament, when the blinds are higher and
your chip stack might be a little smaller, you might have to play a
little more aggressively.
Sit and Go's at Party Poker generally have 10 players; most other
online cardrooms have 9 players at a table.
Why Play SnG's?
A lot of people like SnG's because they have a distinct
beginning, middle, and end. (I'm of that school of thought.) At
Party Poker, the SnG's below the $50 + $5 buy-in are generally
pretty soft games, and if you play appropriately, you can see a
reasonable ROI, especially if you're able to multi-table and resist
playing emotionally. In fact, I've won third place in many sit and
go tournaments when I clicked on the "away" button and just folded
my way into the money by default.
Another reason to like SnG's is because you can get at least an
hour's worth of poker action while risking a very small amount of
money, so it's a great way to practice. You also get experience
playing at a full table, a short-handed table, and heads-up at a SnG.
(Assuming you play well enough to make it that far.) Some people get
burnt out on playing ring games all the time and play sit-an-go's as
a change of pace.
And finally, a lot of sites have SnG's that are qualifiers for
the bigger, multi-table tournaments with the big prize pools. If you
can win a $10 + $1 SnG and get an entry into a $200 + $15
multi-table tournament, then you can get a chance to play with the
"big boys" without having to risk an entire $215.
Please visit the 2nd part of this article,
Texas holdem SnG strategy. I discuss bankroll requirements and
playing strategies in that article.