Playing Sit N Go Poker Tournaments – A Primer

(Recommended audience – New to SNG’s)

If you’ve spent any time at a site such as PokerStars or UB, you’ve likely noticed multiple tournaments listed called “Sit and Go”, “Sit N Go”, or in some cases, SNG. Simply stated – These are most often single or double table tournaments with a relatively short duration, hence the name “Sit N Go”. While these are not exclusive to online poker they are not as popular in live poker rooms due to the low rake taken vs. cash games (believe it or not, the casino’s aren’t huge fans of poker because they make far more with slot machines and gimmicky table games).

SNG’s explained

These are essentially mini tournaments with fewer players and a smaller prize pool. With a standard 9 or 10 man event the top 3 places are normally paid out. In a 6 man Sit N Go the top two players normally will cash out. They begin just like any tournament with the blinds escalating at set intervals and follow that pace until there is only one player standing.

There are many types of Sit N Go’s – Standard, Turbo (where the blinds increase faster), Step (where you “step” to a higher buy-in SNG after each win or top 2-3 finish), and other variants that are poker room specific. We will dive into the different offerings in our Types of Sit N Go Tournaments article.

Sit N Go vs. a cash game

If your starting bankroll is limited in size SNG’s are an attractive option to learn the game without risking your bankroll in one shot. Consider the following scenario:

Starting bankroll of $100.00 would translate into 20 buy ins ($5 each) to a micro stakes No Limit Holdem cash game. The blinds are tiny and at the end of the day you have five dollars to push around, the action is loose and honestly, doesn’t emulate a “real” poker game for middle or high stakes at all. For most people this is akin to Chinese water torture because of the slow nature of the game and the fact that your bankroll tends to grow in fractions as opposed to winning a few bucks here and there.

Now take that same bankroll and consider buying into 20 $5.00 Sit N Go matches (there is an entry fee of .25 to .50 for these but we’re using simple math). Instead of starting out with five dollars in chips you will start out with 800 to 1,500 in tournament chips depending on the poker site. The blinds are typically low compared to the starting stack (average is 10/20 or 15/30 to start) so you have more breathing room to try out semi-bluffs, bluffs, and other tactics without risking your entire stack. This strategy is almost impossible to experiment with in a $5.00 cash game.

If you’re still relatively new to online poker, particularly cash game play then this is a great strategy to “learn the ropes” before moving onto larger stakes.


Sit N Go vs. regular tournaments

The main differences between a standard SNG and a larger Multi-Table Tournament (MTT) are that:

1. The number of players is often hundreds or thousands more than a SNG

2. The prize pool is much larger due to the increased number of players

3. The amount of time to actually cash (place high enough to win some prize money) is significantly longer

It’s important to note that with only a few exceptions, it makes the most sense for a newer player to stick to basic No Limit Holdem Strategy until you’re accustomed to the subtle differences between these tournaments.


There are differences in the way you would play a SNG vs. a tournament as well. In my next article I’m going to talk about basic SNG strategy and how you should approach these types of games as a beginner. So before you rush to Full Tilt and find a small stakes SNG to buy into, make sure you continue reading here first. Your new bankroll will thank you for it later!

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