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Online Sit n Go's

How to Play Sit and Go's

Online Sit and Go Strategy

Part 1: Early Game

by David Huber
Sit and Go Tournaments

SnG Strategy

Sit n Go TournamentsSingle table Sit & Go Tournaments have gained an enormous amount of popularity on poker sites over the past 2 years, providing mid to high stakes players an opportunity to hone their skills while turning a small profit while allowing low stakes players to consistently build their poker bankroll. Every day, thousands upon thousands of players pay a predetermined amount to participate in a six, nine, or ten handed tournament that can last from 30 to 90 minutes. This type of “mini-tournament” calls for an entirely different approach in terms of overall strategy. Following is a guide that should prove extremely helpful to potential Sit & Go specialists who are either starting out or having a tough time turning a profit in these tournaments.

There are generally two types of single table Sit & Go’s (commonly referred to as “SnG’s”), Turbo and Non-Turbo. Turbo SnG’s have blind structures that rapidly increase (usually between 3-5 minutes), while the blinds in Non-Turbo SnG’s usually increase every 10-15 minutes. Predictably, the “End Game” of these two formats plays out quite differently, but vary little in the Early and Middle stages.

For the sake of increasing your Return on Investment expectation, we will assume that you are playing one or two Sit n Go’s at a time. Beginners are often astounded at the fact that many Sit n Go regulars commonly play 8 or more tables at a time, thus sacrificing a Per Tournament Profit Percentage in lieu of a higher Hourly Rate. For now, your main concern should be playing well within your bankroll. So open up a table or two at a buy-in level that you are comfortable playing and let’s get started learning online sit and go strategy.

The Early Game of a single table Sit n Go is somewhat similar to deep-stacked cash games. Players generally begin with 50-100 Big Blinds, and for the only time in the tournament, chips are at their Full Value until the first player is eliminated. Full Chip Value is a concept lost on many beginners (and quite a few seasoned regulars too), but we will save this important discussion for End Game strategy, when chips have lost a considerable amount of their value.

The important thing to keep in mind during the early levels is that you want to be playing in situations that provide a high reward with minimal risk or investment. Blind stealing (just for the sake of stealing them) is a huge error at this level. Generically speaking, low to mid pocket pairs in any position, and suited connectors Jack-Ten and up in late position have value if the pot can be entered into with minimal investment. Pocket pairs TT/JJ/QQ and Ace-Queen/Ace-King have a slight positive expectation for experienced deep-stacked players while AA and KK are self-explanatory.

However, a player must keep an eye on opponents’ tendencies, as premium starting hands gain expected value versus looser pre-flop and weaker post-flop players, while speculative hands skyrocket in value against most regulars and multi-tablers. One advantage to only playing a table or two, is that you will be able to gain quite a bit of an advantage over all but the very best multi-tablers, most of whom mindlessly stack off with overpairs, have no read on their opponents, and play their hands in such a transparent manner that they lose tons of expectation in the Early and Middle stages of every Sit and Go they enter.

It’s a good idea to do a quick search of your opponents and take note of which ones are playing 4+ tables at once. These are the players you can play small pots against early on, with the hopes of flopping Top 2 Pair or better to bust their overpair or overcards when they blindly commit all their chips based on pre-flop starting hand value instead of realizing that their small pre-flop range and weak post flop play are highly exploitable. On the other hand, you must routinely muck flopped hands like Top Pair/weak kicker, Gutshot and Backdoor draws against almost all multi-tablers because (a) you’re usually beat, and (b) they aggressively overbet their hands – almost never giving you profitable odds to see later streets. Just keep in mind that the larger percentage of your stack you have to initially risk with speculative hands, the more it favors the multi-tabling regulars.

Value can also be gained by identifying players who play a Loose-Creative style, as they are easily trapped by vaguely disguised Top Pair+ holdings who take Check (Flop), Call (Turn), Call or Bet (River) lines in position and Bet (Flop), Check (Turn), Value Bet (River) lines out of position. Most importantly, you want to gain a ton of value from opponents who play in a very predictable manner, and you want to stay out of trouble by avoiding situations where you’re easily trapped by an overpair or spewing chips by bluffing a calling station. In other words, be very stingy with the chips you put in play, and only put them in play when the potential to win a huge pot with little initial investment exists.

The Early Game can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the site and whether you’re playing Turbo or Non-Turbo Sit and Go's. To summarize, players who can cautiously chip-up while seeking an opportunity to double-up will set themselves up to effectively play the Middle Game. Players who get over-creative or play “Table Captain” without regard to opponents’ tendencies will consistently spew chips as tighter players abuse and trap them with stronger holdings. Uninspired multi-tablers will be willing to enter the Middle Game with 80% of their original stack if they weren’t able to take a huge pot off of a weaker player with their top pair-top kicker, overpair, or set.

Read: Sit and Go Tournaments - Part 2: Middle Stages
Single Table Tournament Strategy - Part 3 End Game

Sit n Go Tips

Other strategy articles by David Huber:
Multi-Table Poker Tournament Strategy
Poker Mistakes - Learning Curve of Poker
Poker Luck - It's Bad Luck to be Superstitious
Changing Gears When Playing Poker
Making Money Playing Poker Online
Texas Hold em Basics
Online Poker Forums
Advanced Players, Beginner Players

Online Sit n Go

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