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Sit and Go Tournament Strategy

Playing to Win


Sit and Go tournaments (SnG) are mini poker tournaments. They can be multi-table events but the most common are the single table with nine or ten players. They are called Sit and Go because when the table fills up the tournament begins. These tournaments became very popular online and many brick and mortar card rooms are now offering them as well. A single table Sit and Go is like being at the final table of a regular tournament. The best part is that you only have to beat 6 or 7 players to get into the money. Most of these Sit and Go tournaments pay the top three players.

The Strategy
The secret to winning money a Sit n Go tournament isPATIENCE!!

Many of the players in the low stakes SnG tournaments are very loose and play too many hands. You do not want to play many hands in the early stages of the tournament. You want to sit back and let all the loose players knock themselves out. Before you know it the table will be down to 4 or 5 players and you will only have to beat two or three of them to get in the money.

Here is a basic strategy for playing broken down by the number of players left in the game. Nothing in poker is written in stone but if you follow these guidelines you will improve your chances of winning. A good SnG player can get into the money on a consistent basis.

7-10 Players
In the beginning you only want to play big hands against a small number of players. You don’t want to get involved in many multi-way pots where you may suffer a bad beat. Be very selective but be very aggressive with the hands you play. In the beginning I will only play: A-A, K-K, Q-Q or AK in early position and I will go all in with them in an attempt to double up.

In Middle position play Ace-Jack, Ace-Ten, (suited) King-Queen, Queen-Jack or Jack-Ten along with pocket 99 – 88 – 77.

In late position if the pot has not been raised I will limp in with small pocket pairs and a suited Ace or suited connectors. If I don’t get a set on the flop I will dump my pocket pair. You want to flop a big hand or get out for a single bet. Chasing a draw will burn chips and if there is a raise you should avoid this.

5-7 Players
Keep playing the same tight strategy. If you happen to double up during the early rounds you can afford to be very selective but also be aggressive attacking the small stack and the blinds. The one thing you want to avoid is a confrontation with another big stack unless you have a monster hand. It usually doesn’t take too long to get lose two or three players. Play big hands with a raise or fold and wait for a strong hand.

4-5 Players
When the tournament gets down to 4 or 5 players the action gets really tight. Players are hoping to coast into the money. This is where you can steal the blinds and pick up money from the short stacks who will fold in hopes of making it into the money. If you have a big stack, don’t let the players with the small stack see a cheap flop. Enter the pot with a raise or fold. One word of caution is that if the blinds are too short stacked they will be pot committed and will usually call in desperation. You don’t want to double them up by playing garbage.

If you have a medium stack at this point you still have enough chips where you can do a little stealing and build your stack. Play any pocket pairs aggressively if you are the first one to enter the hand. If you are short stacked when you get to this point your goal should be to try and double up of go broke trying. Any pocket pair or Ace with a big card is worth an all in bet if you are heads up.

3 Players
When you make it into the money you have accomplished your main goal. Now is the time to go for the next goal, you should play for first place or go broke trying. If you are the chip leader you should be raising with every hand you play. Don’t let the other two players see the flop cheaply. If you are on the button and have nothing let the blinds fight it you with each other.

At this stage you want to try and trap the other players into making a mistake. If you flop a big hand and are first to act you can check if you the other players have been aggressive. If they have been playing passively try making a small bet into the pot that looks like you are trying to steal it. If you are raised you can come over the top with a bigger raise and trap the other player.

If you have the middle stack you don’t want to wait and hope that the small stack is knocked out by the large stack. Many times when the SnG gets down to three the play will still be tight. With the mid size stack you can still put some fear into the big stack who might be afraid to confront your raises.

If you find that you are the short stack then you have nothing to lose. This is not to say that you should just bluff off you chips but you also can’t wait to be blinded off. Chances are if the player with the big stack is a knowledgeable he will be attacking you. You will have to make a stand.

2 Players
When you are playing heads up you can’t afford to wait. Many times it comes down to who can steal the most blinds. You should raise a lot from the small blind. If the big blinds folds half the time you will show a profit.

If you are the big blind and find yourself against a player using this strategy you will need to counter it by calling more or raising him. You must loosen up or you will go broke. Don’t be afraid to raise back. A small pair or even a single Ace or King can be a big favorite in heads up play. With a big hand you can often trap from the small blind by limping in with it.

Try It
Some players are a little hesitant about entering a single table Sit and Go because they think all the players are seasoned pros. Nothing could be further from the truth especially in the lower limit tournaments. If you try this strategy you may just find that they are the more profitable than you possibly imagined. It might take you a few tournaments to fine tune your strategy but don’t give up. Just remember to BE PATIENT!

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