At any one time, there are hundreds of real money online Sit & Go (SNG) poker tournaments in progress between players all over the globe, making SNGs arguably one of the most popular forms of Internet gaming going around. A ‘Sit and Go’ is a term for an impromptu single, or multi-table tournament that has no pre-determined start time, but instead are run on demand, commencing as soon as all the vacant player spots for a particular game have been filled.
For poker players, SNGs offer the best of both worlds, with the convenient availability of a cash game, combined with the added thrill and excitement of a knock-out tournament – the likes of which you’ve probably seen on TV.
And while you won’t get thousands of competitors for any single online SNG – as the World Series of Poker’s Main Event does every year – highly respected and leading online poker sites such as 888 Poker offer a massive range of SNG types, from heads-up (two-player) games, to 120-player tournaments, and everything in between.
The variety at 888 Poker doesn’t end there either, as it has by far the largest buy-in spectrum for SNGs of all the major online poker sites, with one, two and three cent multi-table games, going right up to the high-stake style $2,000 heads-up games.
Another good thing about 888 buy-ins for SNGs is it often takes less than the industry-standard 10 percent of an individual player’s buy-in as a cut. For example, the $52.50 heads-up games only cost each player five percent of their buy-in, with the rest going directly to the prize pool, while 888 does not take any cut from $0.01 to $0.10 cent games.
Finding the Right Online Sit ‘N Go Tournament
No Limit Texas Hold’em is by far the most sought after online Sit and Go variety, but there are also plenty of Pot and Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em games, as well as Omaha and Stud variations to choose from at 888 and other major online poker rooms such as Poker Stars and Full Tilt Poker.
Once you’ve decided which style of game you want to play and an appropriate buy-in amount to suit your budget, the main thing to consider is whether you want to play a short, mid, or long-handed game. These games each require their own strategic approach, based on their relative differences in regards to strength of hands, playing-style of opponents and pay-out structures. Below we examine all three of these forms as they relate to No Limit Texas Hold‘em:
Long-handed (8-10 players per table)
This is the standard-sized version of NL Hold’em, and single-table SNGs of this size usually pay out roughly a third of the field – i.e. the top three positions of a nine or ten-player tournament.
However, multi-table tournaments (MTTs) will pay out much less than that – usually around 10 percent of the overall field – so there’s no use in adopting an ultra-conservative approach to your chip stack from the outset in MTTs, as your chances of cashing-out are not high to begin. With MTTs, it’s far better to try and chip-up early on so you’re in a good position at the business end, rather than trying to scrape through to the cash places with next to no chips.
Because there are so many cards being distributed around the table each hand in these games, pretty much any given pre-flop hand is weaker than it would be in a mid or short-handed scenario. The general rule – bluffing aside – is a hand with an Ace needs a high kicker (Queen or King from early position, or 10 or better from mid-late position) for it to be worth raising with pre-flop.
As far as pairs go, low pairs (2s-5s) aren’t worth raising with when there are eight or more players, while you should only raise with mid pairs (6s-9s) from late position if no other player has raised before you, and not if a tight player has called from early position.
In a nine or ten player single-table SNG, it is worthwhile using a somewhat loose-conservative approach early on, meaning that you try and see plenty of flops by calling from mid-late positions while the blinds are cheap. But – unless you’re cards are strong – you shouldn’t raise pre-flop or commit to post-flop hands in the early stages of these games.
There’s no point throwing your chips around like crazy from the start, as the blinds simply aren’t big enough to warrant this, and you could run into trouble if you come up against a monster hand, so just wait until a few players are knocked out and you’re closer to the cash places before you shift gears to a more tight-aggressive style. By this time, the blinds will be at a reasonably high level, which will make pre-flop raising more profitable.
Mid-handed (5-7 players per table)
This form is often overlooked, with many poker experts simply referring to seven or more players as long-handed and six or less players as short-handed. But mid-handed really is its own beast.
Unlike long or short-handed tables, where you can often predict what the general pace and style of the game will be from the outset, mid-handed games can be extremely unpredictable, ranging from very slow, tight games where few players want to see many flops, or games where every player is practically playing each hand as if they’re the short-stack and the big blind is coming their way next.
So, it’s important to sit back and get a feel for the table early on, and if one of the above extremes applies, then you can raise frequently with mid-hands (such as King/9 or Jack/10) or better on a tight-conservative table and bully the other players around, regardless of your position, or you can pick your spots on a loose-aggressive table with hands like Ace/Jack or pocket eights and try and eliminate a player who is regularly pushing all-in.
The standard starting size for single and multi-table mid-handed SNGs is six players, with the top two places being paid. In a mid-handed STT you can’t try and avoid 50/50 showdowns, such as when your opponent is all-in and you suspect they have two over cards to your mid-pocket pair. This is because you have less chance of gradually accumulating chips prior to reaching the cash places in these games, than in a long-handed SNG or a mid-handed MTT, where you have more time and opportunities to grow your chip stack.
Short-handed (2-4 players per table)
When you’re playing a heads-up, or four-player NL Hold’em SNG, it’s important to remember an aggressive mentality is required. Any hand with an Ace is strong with only a few or less players at the table, and so is any pair, so you definitely want to raise with such hands.
More importantly – unless the blinds are very high and you’re either conserving a large chip-stack or hanging on to a short one – you need to play plenty of hands and raise often in order to keep the other players honest. Hitting anything post-flop is a strong position to be in, since even in a four-handed scenario it’s rare for more than two players to see the flop, so chances are you’re in front if you do hit.
However, the drawback to the short-handed form is it’s hard to get a read on what other players’ hands could be, simply because they literally could be anything, such is the loose-aggressive nature of most players in these games.
But, like it or not, short-handed play is unavoidable if you want to be a successful poker player, as every tournament, no matter how big, gets down to four or less players eventually, and this is always where the big money lies.
So, if you’re regularly playing nine-ten player multi or single-table SNGs, and you’re finding the short-handed stage of the game a bit too intimidating, then playing a whole heap of heads-up and four-player games is bound to help you improve your short-handed play.
SNG Tournaments at 888 Poker
Apart from the biggest and best variety of buy-ins and table-sizes for SNGs, 888 offers you the choice of standard, turbo and super turbo blinds for all their various game types, as well as their exciting novelty styles ‘double or nothing’ and ‘knock-out’.
Both of these are largely self-explanatory, with double or nothing simply meaning the top placed half of the field of a given game doubles their buy-in amount – regardless of the exact final positions – whereas the bottom placed half loses theirs.
Knock-out games are played as normal, with the addition of each player having a set amount of their buy-in as a bounty on their head, meaning the more players you knock out throughout the tournament, the more money you make.
Play SNGs on Mobiles
We highly recommend the official 888 Poker app for Android and Windows devices and the official 888 Poker Web app (browser-based) for Apple iOS devices in order to play Sit and Go tourneys while you are in fact sitting and going (on the move). The interface is clean and easy to use, and so long as you have a strong data-connection (WiFi or network data such as 4G), you shouldn’t experience any issues such as drop outs. If you do lose connection, 888 has a disconnection policy to secure your place at the table and allow you time to reconnect.