One of the most popular games for online poker players is Sit and Go Tournaments, commonly called SNGs or SitnGo's. They appeal to players of all skill levels, offering buy-ins from as little as $.11 up to $5,000, and they typically last less than an hour. If you have the concentration skills, you can also play more than one table at a time.
Since a lot of people have watched no limit tournaments on TV, they want to play similar tournaments when the begin playing out. Sit and Go Tournaments are great because they give you a chance to have fun while building your bankroll. Conversely, playing multi-table tournaments is not a good way to build a bankroll because there is too much variance. This article will guide you through sit and go strategy for low stakes sit and go's.
The blind are usually a small portion of your starting stack in the first two rounds. Many novice players in these tournaments make the mistake of not protecting their monsters hands like AA and KK pre-flop by making small raises. If you happen to pick up a monster in the early stages of a sit and go then you should try to get as much money in the pot while you (most likely) still have the best hand. Conversely, if it seems clear that you are beat after the flop, turn, or river, don't be afraid to get away from the hand. There is still a lot of poker to be played!
When the blinds are low, you should be playing suited connectors and suited gap connectors, especially when in position, because it costs you a very small percentage of your stack. You are looking to hit a flop hard with 2 pair or to flop a strong draw. Often people under-bet the pot with top pair to keep people in the hand, so you will get a great price to draw to your straight or flush.
Now when you do have big hands like AA, KK, QQ, AK, AQ, and so forth, itís key to play them correctly. With big pairs, you want to raise 3-4 times the big blind. Your ideal situation is to get 2-3 callers and isolate yourself with someone who flops top pair and is a 7 to 10 underdog against your overpair. The level of play in these tournaments is such that people will often commit themselves with top pair, even if they have a poor kicker. But remember, you want to narrow the field on the flop, donít make bets so small that people with weak hands get the odds to call and chase you down. With big drawing hands like AK-AJ, KQ, etcÖ you still want to raise 3-4 times the big blind. If you donít hit the flop, itís ok to let these hands go, because you havenít invested too much in the pot. When you hit top pair with any of the aforementioned hands, you will almost always have the best hand and should feel comfortable playing it for all your chips in most situations. Someone people will disagree with me here, but the level of play in these tournaments is quite poor, especially at the lower buy-in levels, and you want to take advantage of this.
As the blinds go up, your starting hand selection should change a bit. Suited connectors are no longer profitable because not enough people are in the hand and the stakes are too large relative to peopleís stacks to be playing these hands. Now you should tighten your standards up and playing the premium drawing hands and pairs 77 and bigger for a raise. The blinds become bigger, and there is nothing wrong with taking down an uncontested pot at this stage in the game.
If you have a well above average stack, you can afford to wait for premium holdings. However if you are about average in terms of chip count, you will need to play some hands to build your stack. Remember that you donít need pocket aces to go all in pre-flop against a raise. I would advocate being willing to move in with any pocket pair of tens or higher or Ace-King and Ace-Queen at this stage of the game (depending on your stack). These are strong hands and will often be a favorite if your opponent calls. Additionally, your opponent will often fold and you build your stack without having to show down the hand. Letís take a look at why this approach is good.
Let's say you are on the button with pocket tens. The blinds are 100-200, and you have 900 chips. There are six players left. A player in middle position with 1400 chips makes a minimum raise to 400. If you just call, itís difficult to navigate the flop because there might be overcards. However you are committing a large portion of your stack by calling in the first place, so you really canít fold the hand. Now letís say you move all in. Your opponent must think about folding hands like Ax, KQ, and lower pocket pairs, which leaves you in great shape. Sometimes he will call with these hands because of the pot odds and you are in great shape to double up. You are slightly ahead of hands like AK and AQ, and the dead money from the blinds makes this even more profitable for you. The only hands that you really donít want to be up against are JJ-AA. This is why itís better sometimes to just move in with a reasonably strong holding then to see a flop.
Now the blinds are getting very high in relation to the average stack size. You should not enter pots with marginal hands. Be VERY weary on confronting other big stacks without strong holdings, because they can bust you. You donít want to go out on the bubble when there is another player with Ĺ as many chips as you. As soon as you are in the money, you should play to win. Since first place typically pays 2 and a half times as much as third, itís ok to take some risks to try and win. Trust your instincts and make some bluffs, you canít win without doing that.
Now that you are shorthanded, it can sometimes be effective to trap aggressive opponents by check-raising all in with top pair or even middle pair if you think you have the best hand. Itís ok to move in with a reasonable ace or pocket pair pre-flop, because the blinds are so big. This is the stage of the game where you want to take down as many pots uncontested as possible by going all in before the flop with strong holding. A hand like A-8 is usually the best hand when you are 3 handed, but it hard to play because you only flop an Ace 18% of the time. By playing aggressively, you build your stack and often get called on all ins by weaker hands like KQ , KJ, and other weak holdings. People really like to gamble once they know they are making money anyway!
If you use these guidelines to adjust your play throughout the Sit and Go Tournaments, you should be able to build your bankroll and enjoy yourself. Remember to adapt as the blinds go up, and donít worry about losing a few tournaments in a row. Everyone does and it is a normal part of the variance of playing SNG tournaments. Best of luck!
Also see - A look into Sit N Go Strategy.Return to the Poker Strategy Contents page.