Sit and Go Tournaments: Basic Operation


Sit and Go poker tournaments, also called sit-n-gos, are basically informally arranged tournaments with a set or specific number of players. The number of players can vary from between 2 (this would be considered a head-to-head or heads-up tournament) to 180. However, there is generally only a single table of players at most sit-n-go online poker tournaments.

The basic play and operation of such a tournament is essentially the same, at least regarding how the game itself is played. The game may consist of a single poker variation, such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi or even Stud poker. On rare occasions, the games may change at specified times. Usually the game does not change. The tournament will start as soon as the required number of players have registered and are seated.

Since most sit and go poker tournaments are essentially single-table format, your goal is to survive and outlast everyone else. You are basically trying to win all of the chips at the table. The winner will be the last man (or woman) left at the table. Cash prizes are typically awarded to either the last player alone in a winner-take-all format, or to the top three spots, with the winner earning 50%, second place 30% and third place 20% or the prize pool.

Rules of Sit-n-Go Poker:

The rules for a typical, single table sit n go poker tournament are pretty basic and straight forward.

  1. As each player registers and ‘buy-ins’ for a set amount of money, they receive a specific number of chips, determined by the tournament rules. Each player receives the same amount of chips.
  2. Once the required number of players have joined and are seated with chips in front of them (usually 8-10 for a single table), the play begins.
  3. The beginning blinds or antes are pre-determined based on the number of chips each player starts the SNG with.
  4. These blinds (or antes) will increase by pre-determined amounts, usually every 15 minutes or so. Another option is to increase the blinds every 10 or 15 hands.
  5. The betting and actual play of the online poker hands are the same as the rules for that particular game, with the exception that players may only bet with the chips in front of them.
  6. When a player loses all of their chips, they are eliminated and must leave the table.
  7. When only one player remains, he or she is declared the winner.

SNG Strategy:

The one crucial skill a player must have to do well in SNG tournament poker is that of adaptability. You must be able to adapt to play at a table with a shrinking number of players. This is especially true in games like Hold’em and Omaha. As players are eliminated it means that more hands per hour will be played, and you will need to post more blinds. Therefore, it will become more expensive to play, even without the blinds being increased at the regular intervals.

The size of the blinds relative to the amount of chips you have is perhaps the most important consideration. When you have a good number of chips and players, generally you should be more conservative in the type of hands you will see through to the flop and beyond. In other words, play tighter in the beginning phases.

As the blinds increase, and the number of players decrease, you should play a bit looser. Actually, the higher blinds and the amount of your chip stack almost forces looser play. However, the real trick here is to try and play as tight-aggressive as you can until there are three players left. Now, you guaranteed yourself 20% of the cash. Now, you can gamble a bit and go for the win. Especially if you are now perceived as a tight-aggressive player, you might have a good shot with this strategy!

Why Play SNG’s:

SNG poker tournaments are great places to gain loads of experience. It is most certainly valuable final-table poker experience. You are also able to play for a long time with relatively little money. Finally, you may even win one of these that qualify you for a bigger event, with a chance to go to a major tournament.


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