For as long as I have been playing poker, Sit and Go tournaments - commonly referred toin their shortened form ‘SNGs’ - have been a part of the poker landscape. SNGs aresimilar in nature to MTTs but tend to have smaller fields, often just nine or eighteenplayers, with approximately one third of the field winning prizes.
SNGs are a good training ground for tournaments, as they have a lot of similarities: bothforms of poker start with deep stacks and allow for plenty of post-flop play in the earlymiddle stages. All players who enter a SNG begin with the same amount of chips - so it is a level playing field. This is different to a cash game, where often there will be a widerange of buy-ins and you may find yourself up against people playing very deep stacks,
that are able to apply a lot of pressure.
SNGs also require knowledge of ICM play, which is essentially having an awareness ofyour situation within the tournament and adapting your play based on how it relates to thepresent scenario.
For instance, in a 9-man single table SNG, the top three players usually get paid. This means that if you are down to the remaining four players, you should be adapting your style of play based on your position. If you are chip leader, you can be extremely aggressive in your approach, as all the remaining players are going to be trying to makethe money and desperate not to be the next player to be eliminated. Meanwhile, if you aresecond in chips you have to play a lot more cautiously during this phase of play, as it willbe somewhat disastrous if you get involved in a large pot with the chip leader and bust out.
There are many different types of SNGs: hyper-turbo versions allow those with a tighttime-constraint to play, whereas regular speed versions will allow for a longer period ofplay with deeper stacks. Some people specialise in turbo games but you should be awarethat this form of poker typically requires a more aggressive approach, as the blinds andantes are increasing faster. Therefore, it is recommended, that you focus on regular speedgames when starting out.
Buy-ins range from micro stakes as low as $1 to high stakes games up to $5,000. Start outat micro stakes and once you are beating these games, try moving up to the next level; continue this process until you are playing at a level of games you feel capable of beatingconsistently - do not be afraid to move up in stakes. But also be self-aware enough torecognise if a level of play is a little too tough and willing to drop down in stakes. If you areplaying poker to make money, then you need to have discipline in terms of your gameselection and bankroll management, as well as in terms of your strategic approach to the game.
There is also the option of adding more tables; start out playing one game at a time andthen gradually build it up to playing two or more games, as you feel comfortable. This should help to increase your hourly win rate.
With smaller fields than MTTs, SNGs offer a nice way for new players to try and steadily build a bankroll. Large field tournaments offer big-money guarantees, with the potential towin big - an exciting prospect. However, they also entail a high degree of variance. SNGs
are a safer option in terms of growing your bankroll. Perhaps focus on playing these as your regular game of choice, whilst mixing in some shots at MTTs; this will still give you thechance to have a big score, without jeopardising your bankroll too much at any given time.
In SNG gameplay, the blinds are typically quite a small portion of your starting stack in theearly stages. During this stage of play, you should look to play a range of hands that havethe potential to win you big pots. If there are multiple players in the pot, usually this is agood time to get involved with good drawing hands such as suited connectors; also play your small pocket pairs, as you may win a huge pot the times that you hit a set.
Prioritise taking flops in position and seek to isolate weak opponents who limp in. Do notattempt to slow play your big hands; instead, look to try and thin the field with appropriately sized raises when your holdings consist of big pairs and powerful hands such as AK andAQ. It is always better to try and get value as quickly as possible with these hands; takingflops multi-ways, even with the best of starting hands, is dangerous and makes youvulnerable to getting outdrawn at some point in the hand. Do not set your opponents acheap price to try and crack your monsters - you want to be the one doing that to them.
At micro and low stakes, it is relatively common to see players commit their entire stack with questionable holdings. You must be ready to pounce and take all their chips. Pick your spots wisely but do not be afraid to pull the trigger and show aggression. A tight butaggressive playing style is typically considered the best way of extracting chips from villains who play too many hands.
Conversely, when you notice that a player is especially tight but putting money into the pot,tread carefully; their range will invariable be strong and the quality of hand you will need tobeat them will increase. They are the kind of opponents you may want to try and force outwith multi-barrel bluffs - but your overall strategy ought to be solid and focused onextracting value, rather than playing too fancy and getting out of line a lot.
Different situations require different strategies. With practice and experience comes greater awareness and knowledge of how best to make winning plays on a consistentbasis. SNGs continue to be a good training ground towards the more lucrative world ofMTTs. But, in their own right, they are a very good way to build a nice bankroll and shouldgive you a solid grounding in how to play effective, winning poker. Many of the best players
in the world started out grinding SNGs and used them as a path way to greater things.With hard work and application, there is no reason that this cannot be the case for you, too.
Even in the early levels of play, is not uncommon to see players commit their entire stack with mediocre draws or one pair hands - so be ready to pounce and play aggressively when the situation warrants it.
When the blinds increase, there is usually reason to adapt your starting hand selectionsomewhat .
As the blinds go up, your starting hand selection should change a bit. Suited connectors are no longer profitable because not enough people are in the hand and the stakes are toolarge relative to people’s stacks to be playing these hands. Now you should tighten your standards up and playing the premium drawing hands and pairs 77 and bigger for a raise.The blinds become bigger, and there is nothing wrong with taking down an uncontestedpot at this stage in the game.