Top SNG Poker Tips – How to Beat Sit and Go’s
If you are just getting started with poker, playing sit and go tournaments is one of the best ways to put your knowledge of poker theory into practice and get more experienced playing the game.
But why is that? And why should you bother playing sit and go Poker?
Well, in this article we will break down everything you need to know about this poker format including what is sit and go poker, why it is one of the best formats for poker beginners, and what is the best way to approach these games.
What Is SNG Poker?
When it comes to the format, sit and go’s belong to the group of poker tournaments. More specifically SNGs are a variant of online poker tournaments which start when the number of registered players hits the limit that was set in advance.
For example, a 9-man sit and go will start as soon as 9 players register for the tournament, and an 18-man SNG will start as soon as 18 players register to play and so on.
Note that most online poker sites will allow players to register and unregister from the tournament up to the point when the limit of players is reached.
For example, if you are registering for an 18-man SNG and you are the 8th player to register, you have the option to unregister all the way up until the tournament starts.
The Structure of SNG Poker Tournaments
These days, there are dozens of different SNGs that players can play online. They can be put in different groups based on the:
- Maximum number of players
- The number of players at the table
- Blind increase structure
Types of SNGs Based on the Number of Players in the Tournament
Depending on the site, SNG poker tournaments can host anywhere from 2 to 360 players.
And while there are dozens of options when it comes to the number of players allowed, some SNGs variants are more popular than others.
- 2 man SNGs (also known as Heads-up SNGs)
- 3 man SNGs
- 6 man SNGs
- 9 man SNGs
- 18 man SNGs
- 45 man SNGs
- 180 man SNGs
Types of SNGs Based on the Number of Players at the Table
When it comes to the number of players at the table, there are also several different variants of Sit and Go tournaments.
The most popular variants of SNGs based on the number of players at each table are:
- Heads up
Note that Heads up SNGs and 3 max SNGs in most cases consist of only one table while 6-max and 9-max SNG can consist of one or multiple tables.
Types of SNGs Based on the Blind Structure
The last feature that is used to differentiate different formats of sit and go tournaments is the blind structure, i.e. the speed with which the blinds increase in the tournament.
The slowest type of SNGs are called deep stack SNGs, in these tournaments, players usually start with 3,000 chips and the blinds increase every 15 minutes. Thanks to these features, this SNG variant offers the most room for post-flop play.
The 2nd slowest variant is the standard speed SNGs. This format features starting stacks of 1,500 chips with a 10 to 15-minute blind increase. In this variant, the players also have some room for post-flop play but not as much as in the one we previously mentioned.
Turbo SNGs are one of the most popular variants these days. They usually feature starting stacks of 1,500 chips and blind levels that increase every 5 or 6 minutes.
In these games, the push fold strategy is much more important than post-flop play since stacks get under 15bb very fast.
Hyper turbo SNGs have by far the fastest blind structure of all SNG variants. They feature 500 chips starting stacks with 2-minute blind levels. Because of this, the push fold strategy is even more important than in turbo SNGs.
Apart from these four SNG variants, other popular SNG formats include
- All-in or Fold SNG tournaments (players either have to fold or go all-in on each hand)
- Coin-flip All-in SNG tournaments (players are put all in every hand whether they want it or not)
- Lottery SNGs (these SNG tournaments have different names on different sites but they all feature a randomly assigned prize pool)
- SNG satellite tournaments (in these tournaments instead of money the main prize is a ticket to a higher buy-in MTT)
Preparation for SNG Poker Tournaments
Before we start discussing the optimal strategy for SNG tournaments, we first need to touch on a few things that you will need to master before you hit the tables.
SNG Bankroll Management
Proper bankroll management is essential for success in any kind of poker format, and SNG tournaments are no different.
There are two main bankroll approaches that SNG players use:
- Conservative bankroll management
- Aggressive bankroll management
The main difference between these two approaches is in the number of buy-ins that players have in their bankroll.
Both of these strategies have their pros and cons.
Advantages of using a conservative SNG bankroll management strategy:
- The chance that a player will have to move down in limits is lower
- Decreases the chance of downswings
- Players have the opportunity to become familiar with the games that they are playing
Disadvantages of using a conservative SNG bankroll management strategy:
- Increases the time needed to move up the limits
The pros of using an aggressive bankroll management strategy in SNG tournaments:
- Decreases the time needed to move up the limits
- The prospect of going up the limits fast can incentivize players
The cons of using an aggressive bankroll management strategy in SNG tournaments:
- The chance that a player will have to move down in limits is higher
- Downswings can have a big impact on the size of the bankroll
- Going up the limits fast can result in players becoming overwhelmed with the buy-in amount
Now that you are aware of the pros and cons of each of these SNG bankroll strategies, let’s see how they look in practice:
Conservative SNG bankroll management:
|SNG Format||Number of Buy-ins|
|Heads-up||70 – 80|
|6-man SNGs||80 – 100|
|9-man SNGs||100 – 150|
|18-man SNGs||150 – 225|
|45-man SNGs||250 – 300|
|180-man SNGs||400 – 600|
Aggressive SNG bankroll management:
|SNG Format||Number of Buy-ins|
|Heads-up||20 – 30|
|6-man SNGs||25 – 35|
|9-man SNGs||35 – 45|
|18-man SNGs||45 – 55|
|45-man SNGs||60 – 70|
|180-man SNGs||80 – 100|
These tables represent recommendations for the standard speed SNGs, and should be adjusted accordingly if you are playing other SNG variants.
If you are playing deep stack SNGs, you can go with a lower number of buy-ins than recommended in the tables, and if you are playing turbo or hyper SNGs you should go with a higher number.
Note that the conservative bankroll management strategy is best suited for players that are new to the game and to the format, while the aggressive bankroll management strategy is mostly used by players that have a lot of experience in the format.
Learn SNG Push Fold Charts
The second thing that you should do before you start playing SNG is to learn the push-fold charts.
Push-fold charts to represent mathematically solved hand ranges that tell you with which hands it is okay to go all in based on the number of blinds you have in your stack.
These ranges are crucial for any kind of success in SNG poker, and if you do not learn them you are pretty much guaranteed to fail.
Note that push-fold charts are created based on the average player calling range and that they should be adjusted based on what you think the calling ranges of your opponents are.
SNG Poker Strategy
The easiest way to approach SNG strategy is to look divide them into 3 separate stages; the early stage, the middle stage, and the late stage.
Since effective stack sizes are different in these stages, each of them requires a different strategy.
Strategy for Early Stages of SNGs
In the early stages of an SNG, the effective stack sizes are the biggest, around 50 BB or more. Because of this, your strategy in this stage should be similar to those in cash games.
To be more specific, you should play fairly conservatively, using hands that have good implied odds and staying away from marginal spots. This approach is similar to that in deep-stack cash games.
The reason is that you are in no rush to get into pots and win chips, and you have the luxury of waiting for other players to make mistakes.
While doubling up in this stage is nice, it does not guarantee that you will win a piece of the prize pool. On the other hand, losing your stack means losing your buy-in.
Strategy for Middle Stages of SNGs
The middle stages are where things start to get interesting in sit and go tournaments. If the effective stacks are around 20-25 bb it is time to open your game and try to steal as many pots as possible.
Your sense of urgency should be kicking in at this stage because the blinds and the antes will take a significant portion of your stack in each orbit that goes by.
Use your stack to put as much pressure on weak opening ranges and try to collect blinds and antes without going to the flop.
Raising and folding should be your two primary options. Too much calling can make you bleed chips as there isn’t much room for post-flop play.
Strategy for Late Stages of SNGs
Depending on the type of SNG tournament you are playing, the late stage should kick in somewhere around the bubble.
The late stage is the most important stage of an SNG since this is where your mistakes can cost you the most.
Since the effective stacks are around 15bb or less, there is almost no post-flop play in this stage of the SNG. Most of the decisions are made pre-flop, so this is where your knowledge of push fold charts will come into play.
The other important thing that will help you make money in this stage of the SNG is having a good understanding of the ICM (Independent Chip Model).
Most of your decisions in the late stage of SNGs will come down to 2 options; all-in or fold. Raising will rarely be a good option, save for some very specific situations.