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Bodog Poker :: Sit and Go

How to Play - Sit and Go Tournaments



Playing in a Sit and Go Tournament

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 to beat.

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.

This page is part of our series of articles about how to play poker. We're including, or have plans to include, articles on:

You might also be interested in our article about Texas holdem starting hands, even though that article is aimed more at ring play than sit and go tournaments.

This page was last updated on January 5, 2006.