The most common form of STT is one with a full table (9 or 10 players), where the pay-out structure rewards the top three - usually with 50% going to first place, 30% to second and 20% to third. For a $20+$2 STT, with 10 players entering, this would result in the top three placers to win $100, $60 and $40, respectively.
A definite upside to playing in an STT is how it's a relatively brief investment of time; unlike their larger relatives, the single table tournaments usually do not take more than an hour or so from start to finish. For the grinders who hack away at the cash games, an STT can be a refreshing change of pace, and can be very lucrative as well. As was pointed out in the previous chapter, a tournament - and the single table kind is no exception - is a complex form of poker and skilled players will have a large edge against the beginners. As fate would have it, novice poker players tend to flock to the STTs, making them goldmines for experienced tournament foxes. The reason STTs are so popular among beginners, I think, is because they offer action. People see tournaments on TV and want to try it out, and the STTs offer a simple and cheap way of playing, and it's exciting at the same time.
Another upside, besides them being brief and profitable, is that if you get knocked out, you can join a new one immediately, as there are constantly new ones starting - at least on the major sites. And if you plan on making STTs your home, you will have to get used to firing up new ones often, because even with expert play, you'll often go out early. You will many times find yourself with all your chips in the middle, holding the best hand - and then getting drawn out on the river. You played it right, there's nothing to do - besides joining a new one. Being a skilled player, you will find profit in volume - many STTs put together will eliminate the influence of shortterm luck, and you will steadily win money.
For anyone planning to play larger tournaments, I believe STTs are a great way to practise. Not only are they easily accessible, but you get to hone your final table skills properly, which will really come in handy the time that you actually find yourself at the final table of a major tournament. In large tournaments, you expect to reach the final table maybe once out of 30 attempts (if you're good), which means that you would get to try it once a month, if you play one large tournament per night. But STTs, on the other hand, you can play many in one night - especially if you play more than one at once - which will give you a solid experience of how to handle yourself once you do reach that elusive final table in the large tournament!
You will also be able to find heads-up tournaments offered, which is exactly what they sound like: Two people playing each other until one has all the chips. In a heads-up tournament, there's of course no prize for second place. The heads-up matches however, unlike the STTs, are not usually inhabitated by beginners, so tread carefully. As a sidenote, if you want to practise playing heads-up, you definitely want to do it in a tournament format. Playing heads-up for real money at a cash table makes it virtually impossible to overcome the rake, and so even though one of you may be winning, you're both losing.
In closing, if you have yet to try an STT, I suggest you find a cheap buy-in one, and give it a go. I think you'll find it fun.