How To Win Money Playing Sit & Go Poker

Win Money Playing Sit & Go Poker - Profitable Sustain

Although high-stakes cash-games and million-dollar tournaments dominate the poker headlines, it is another poker format that is often the first stop for still-developing players who are looking to have some fun at the tables while developing the skills necessary to sustain a profitable online poker career: Sit & Go Tournaments.

Known by a plethora of related terms – SNG, sitngo, sit n go, sit and go – this type of poker game is focused on shorter time-frames, fewer opponents, and top-heavy payouts. The original format took form in the shape of a 9 or 10-handed poker tournament beginning with 1000-1500 chips where a typical payout structure would see the winner take 50% of the prize-pool (all entry fees minus the rake or ‘juice’) with second place winning 30% and third place taking the remaining 20%. Today near infinite variants exist – from No Limit Holdem SNGs to Pot Limit Omaha SNGs, from heads-up SNG quick-hitters to 180-player multi-table sit and go tournaments.

But how exactly do sit and go tournaments work? And are Sit and Gos profitable for the average player? Can you actually make more money playing Sit and Gos than playing regular cash tables or tournaments? And if so, what sit and go variation is best? Let’s take a few moments to explore these questions and others while weighing the pros and cons of playing SNG tournaments.

The pros of playing sit and go poker tournaments:

1. Single Buy-in

Unlike in cash-games, the vast majority of poker SNGs offer a single entry with no rebuy option. This can be a benefit for inexperienced players who still struggle with tilt-control issues as it prevents them from reloading their stack after a bad beat and immediately dump that one as well chasing their losses. And although there’s nothing stopping the same player from firing up another sit and go, the way in which these tournament types are structured – namely requiring a full table to begin and making the early levels somewhat inconsequential to the final results – provide players with enough time to regain their composure and return to the basics of optimal SNG strategy rather than piling stack after stack into the middle of the table.

Win Money Playing Sit & Go Poker - Fast Tournaments
2. Shorter Time-Frame

For those players who enjoy the tournament structure but don’t have the time to sit through a multiple-hour (or even multiple-day) event, SNGs are a perfect alternative. Depending on the specific format, some sit and go tournaments can last no more than a couple of minutes, with even the largest of them generally lasting only 2-3 hours, a far cry from the standard 7-8 hour+ timeline for full-sized tournaments. In fact, when playing the heads-up sit & go or hyper-turbo sit & go variants, players can get a whole bunch of games in even just over their lunch-break or a similar time-frame, something that would be impossible with tournaments and likely inadvisable in cash-games where building reads on your opponents’ factors into strategy much more heavily.

3. Weaker Competition

Without a doubt the poker variant with the weakest competition at the lower limits, poker SNGs are often the first stop for inexperienced players getting used to the online poker game. Additionally, many tournament and cash-game players like to splash around in the SNG games when short on time as well as following their regular sessions, which can be a benefit to experienced SNG players who have developed this highly specific skill-set. Because while certain poker characteristics transfer well from cash-games and tournaments, many others require a unique understanding of very specific SNG principles such as ICM considerations and late-game strategies.

4. Fast Structure

This might seem counter-intuitive as one would expect edges to be largest in deep-stack poker scenarios, but when it comes to weaker players still developing their poker strategies, fast structures can be beneficial as they actually reduce the edge experienced players have over their opponents. Additionally, by focusing on building specific strategies for the faster structures found in online SNGs, astute players can use the fast structure to their advantage by exploiting tactical weaknesses of players not familiar with the format.

The cons of playing sit and go poker tournaments

Win Money Playing Sit & Go Poker - Strategies
1. Fast Structure

Conversely, for strong poker players with a solid grasp of poker strategy fundamentals, the fast SNG structure may work to reduce their overall edge as they’ll have fewer opportunities to exact that edge (which is why SNG ROIs trend downward the faster the structure goes). However, as discussed above, skilled players can minimize the impact of this factor by focusing on growing their understanding of SNG-specific strategies that will provide them with an increased edge over any player who hasn’t done so as well.

2. Limited Upside

Unlike full-sized tournaments where the top prizes can be hundreds of times the size of a player’s buy-in amount, unless one is specifically playing the Jackpot variation, the upside is much more capped in SNG play. For example, in a typical 10-handed SNG, the average prize for 1st place will generally be about 5 buy-ins, with 2nd place winning 3 buy-ins and 3rd place winning the rest. This means that individuals looking to play poker for the rush of the big win may not be well suited for the slow and steady grind of SNG play.

3. Variance

Although SNG variance is some of the lowest in the game of poker over a significant sample size, when it comes to each individual game, it can often be one of the highest. That’s because with so few chips in play and such little time to exact one’s edge, players are often forced to take risks and “coin-flips” they might otherwise pass up if they were, for example, playing a multi-day tournament or deep-stacked cash game. As such players will usually need to win much more than their ‘fair share’ of close calls in order to survive any given game.

How To Beat Poker SNGs

Of course, the strategy of how to win at sit & go poker depends on many factors including variant, size, speed, skill-level, and buy-in. Still, there are a number of near-universal factors to consider when competing in poker SNGs that will undoubtedly improve your bottom-line and help you win more money at the poker table.

Format Intelligence

The first step in developing a profitable sit and go strategy is building a deep understanding of the specific variety. How many players are involved? How many big-blinds does each player begin the tournament with? How fast do the blinds increase? How many players get paid in the end? How is the prize-pool divided amongst the winners?

These are all important (factors) not only to consider, but to think about from a deeply strategic standpoint. For example, if the prize-pool awards one buy-in to the 6th place finisher but 15 buy-ins to 1st place, the bubble should be looked upon as an opportunity to attack relentlessly so as to set oneself up for the more meaningful stage of the sit and go.

Game-Stage Awareness

Speaking of SNG stages, new players would be wise to break down their strategic approach in thirds – early-game, mid-game, and late-game. Although it, once again, depends on the specific format of the game, generally speaking, the right approach in the early stage of a SNG is to play a pretty straight-forward ABC type of game, being aggressive with the good hands and not sacrificing too many chips prospecting on speculative hands or pots. In the middle-stage, as the blinds increase – often substantially so – and the bubble approaches, experienced players often like to loosen up their game and attack those who they perceive to be on the weaker end of the poker-playing spectrum using the reads they’ve built throughout the early portion of the tournament.

Finally, the late-game stage arrives with the bursting of the bubble and lasts until a winner is crowned. More than in any other stage, reads on the other players at the table will dictate one’s late-game SNG strategy. If playing against loose-aggressive opponents who will immediately begin flinging chips into the middle once they’re in the money, a tighter approach as the raiser and looser approach as the caller will often be right, while the opposite will be true against tighter opponents trying to ladder up the payouts.

Patience & Aggression

As alluded to above, one of the biggest factors to making money in sit & go poker is understanding the delicate dance of patience and aggression. Although it can be fun to keep one’s foot on the proverbial gas-pedal from the outset of a tournament, more often than not that’s not going to be a profitable long-term strategy. It is the player who can get a feel for each of their tables and seamlessly transition between patience and aggression depending on the opponents and stage of the tournament that will put themselves in the best position to make a profit playing sit & go poker.

Win Money Playing Sit & Go Poker - The Best Table Place

How To Win Money Playing Sit & Go Poker: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Sit and Gos profitable?

Not only are Sit and Gos profitable, but many players consider them to be the most consistently profitable online poker game format. Of course, as with anything, a lot of study is required, but for those players willing to put in the work, the financial rewards are there for the taking.

What sit and go variation is the best?

The best sit and go variation will depend on two factors: which do you enjoy the most and which are best suited for your strengths and weaknesses at the poker table? Heads-up sit & Gos, hyper-turbo or jackpot Sit & Gos, and 6-max turbo Sit & Gos are best suited for more experienced SNG players who like employing an aggressive style, enjoy putting in a high volume of games, and can emotionally handle the immense variance found within the daily swings of these types of poker games. Conversely, regular speed 9 and 10 seated sit & Gos and multi-table non-turbo Sit & Gos make for a good option for inexperienced SNG players still developing their skills, as well as players who prefer to play a tighter range of hands with a lot more post-flop play.

Do you need to be aggressive early in Sit & Gos?

More often than not, no. In fact, unless you’re specifically playing heads-up hyper-turbo games, the correct early-game strategy in Sit & Gos is to resist the urge to over leverage early, with each chip holding much less value with the blinds at their lowest point.

Do you play SNGs different than cash games?

Yes, absolutely. With the key difference between SNGs and cash-games being increasing blinds and antes, Sit & Go players do not have the luxury of waiting for premium hands only. In fact, more often than not, one of the easiest ways to bust a SNG bankroll will be to play too few hands. Sit & Go strategy dictates that as the blinds increase, so too should each player’s aggressiveness, something that is not a consideration for deep-stack cash-game players lacking a clock to force the action.

Do you make more money playing Sit and Gos than regular tournaments or cash tables?

Once again, this depends on many factors, but there is no shortage of money to be made in SNGs. In fact, over the past half a decade, some of online poker’s biggest winners have been high-stakes heads-up SNG players, particularly in the hyper-turbo variety.

Is it possible to make a living playing online poker?

Absolutely. Although it will often take many months or years to develop one’s poker ability to the point of being able to earn a consistent living playing online poker, the potential is definitely there for anyone willing to work hard at it.

What are the best poker training sites?

With a plethora of training-site options to choose from, the answer will depend on the type of poker one is looking to specialize in. For fast-paced SNG action, particularly of the Jackpot or Spin & Go variety, is a great option, while is the industry leader for cash-games and multi-table tournament play.