Sit and go winnings

I, Johan Sunnanangs aka “HOMERos”, have played thousands of poker sit and go´s and I have won over 100.000$ playing them on different poker sites. In this post I will teach you everything about sit and go strategy and how to beat them.

You can see my sit and go poker win rate graph at Pokerstars below.

Let´s get started!

What is poker sit and go? (SNG)

Sit and go tournaments (SNG´s) are online poker tournaments that starts when a predefined number of players have registered for the tournament. Sit and go’s are usually single table tournaments with 2,5,6 or 9 players. But there can be as many more players on sit and go tournaments on big poker operators such as Pokerstars.

A sit and go is played with a fixed starting stack for all players, and if you lose all your chips you are eliminated from the tournament.

sit and go poker
Poker sit and go

Sit and go´s are also played live in real casinos, for example during the World Series Of Poker (WSOP). But the real breakthrough for the poker format was during the mid 2000´s when online poker was booming. Since bigger tournaments take a long time to play and many players don’t want to be stuck in a tournament for 6-12 hours the format got popular really quick.

Best poker sites for Sit and go's

WPT Global

5/5
  • + Great bonus and freerolls
  • + Soft games
  • + Bonuscode: pokercoacho
5/5

GG poker

5/5
  • + Biggest poker site in the world
  • + Great welcome bonus
  • + Fast withdrawals
5/5

Pokerstars

5/5
  • + Biggest poker site in the world for tournaments
  • + Big online series like WCOOP and SCOOP
  • + Satellites to EPT events
5/5

Sit and go poker structure and rules

When sit and gos was first launched it was usually a single table with nine or ten players. With about ten minut blind level intervals. But as the players and the sites evolved many different versions popped up. Other popular formats were heads up sit and gos and 6-max SNGs.

Sit and go prize pools

Prize pools for sit and go's varies with the number of players in it. In a one table tournament with 100+9$ buy in. There is 900$ (100 x 9) in the prize pool and 81$ (9 x 9) that goes to rake.

SNG payout structure

The normal payout structure for a nine handed sit and go are as follow with three prizes.

  1. Winner get 50%.
  2. 2nd place gets 30%
  3. 3rd place get 20%.

Normal payout structure for 6 handed sit and go's are two prizes.

  1. Winner gets 70%
  2. Runner upp gets 30%

How to win at poker sit and go's

In order to become a winner at sit and go poker you need to be good a certain things. Here is the most important.

  1. Be patient and play tight early in the sit and go. When the blind pressure is low you should play really tight.
  2. Being able to play aggressively and build big pots with you big hands.
  3. Push all in frequently on the later levels when your stack is shallow. If you have less than ten big blinds you should be open to push any medium to premium starting hand in order to try to steal the blinds.
  4. Table selection. Choose your games visely. See who you are playing against and find a poker site and buy in levels you can handle and win against. It is of course ok to take shots now and then and play against better opponents in order to develop. But the majority of the games should be played against weaker and casual players.

Let me explain these basic concepts in this video.

Sit and go strategy – 10 pro tips to beat SNGs

Let's start with listing quick strategy tips to beat poker sit and go's 2021. I'll elaborate the sit and go strategy for each step further down in this post.

  1. Play really tight pokerThe blinds are really low compared to the starting stacks in a sit and go. During the early rounds it is much better to use an ultra conservative sit and go strategy regarding starting hands. The blind pressure is so low so it not worth entering the pot without premium starting hands.
  2. Be the aggressor Don't sit around and wait for other players to make the bet. When you do have a strong starting hand and decide to enter a pot, be the one raising and betting. By being the aggressor you have two ways to win the pot. One is if you opponent is folding his or her hand to your bet. Of course you can also win the pot by showdown by showing down the best hand. Passive calling players have only one way to win the hand and that is to show the best hand at showdown.
  3. Make the weak players pay.

    You don't need to lure all players into the pot when you raise with your big hands. It is enough to get one or two callers preflop that you can fry on the later streets. So raise enough preflop to decrease the number of callers.
  4. Use you table image When using the sit and go strategy and style I advocate you will get plenty of room to steal during the later rounds in sit and go's. Your opponents see you as a ultra tight player that rarely enters any pot. That is not the case on the later levels. Here we will take commando and push all in frequently when our stack is about 10 bb or less.
  5. Be aggressive on the bubbleOn “the bubble”, when you are close to the money paying positions, you can get into a really good before the end game. Put pressure on players that are waiting for the smallest stacks to go busto. They will be really tight at this stage of the tournament, and you should use this behavior to you advantage to punish your weak opponents.
  6. Don't panic with the short stackYou have more time than you think when you play a small stack. Use your stack wisely and pick the right moment to make your all in move. Pick a spot where you can attack a player which you can hurt with your move. Avoid to attack the biggest stacks blind and also the one with so small stacks that they are forced to call you.
  7. Only call small pairs with the right implied oddsSmall pairs is especially good in two different spots in sit and go's. They are good during the first levels when you can get into the pot for a small amount, hit your set and hopefully win big when you hit. Small pairs are also good late during the tournament because they are good enough hands to push with when you have ten big blinds or less.During the medium rounds many players misplay there small pairs. Often you should often just fold these. That is because you don't have enough implied odds to call raises and set mine with them. During this phase you usually have to much chips for it to be profitable to push these hands also. If so, just fold em.
  8. Adjust the bet sizingIn an sit and go you should be really cautions with the chip stack you have been given. So don't spash around with your contiuation bets and preflop raises during the later streets. With the limited stacks compared to a cashgame you can often get the same results even though you decrease the bet sizes.
  9. Switch gears
    Use the blinds increases to adjust your strategy. When the blinds are low you have almost no incentive to get into the pot without a real premium hands. But when the blinds get up, and the ante kicks in, you should be way more inclined to raise from late position in order to steal the blinds.
  10. Be agressive heads up
    Since many sit and go players are tight solid players they get trouble to handle when the sit and go turns into heads up mode. When it is only two players left you need to vastly open up your game, raising about 80-85% of your hands on the button. And of course, also defending way more hands than you should in a 6- or 9-max game.

Sit and go strategy (the early rounds)

During the early levels of a sit and go tournament the blinds (and sometimes ante’s) are very low compared to the stacks. A usual setup is 10-20 blinds, with 1500 chips in each stack. One big difference between tournament poker and cash games are that you can’t buy new chips and add to your stack whenever needed. The value of each chip is therefore were high and you should persevere as many as possible to maximize your potential double up, once you do get the hand and spot you are waiting for.

One of my favorite book’s for tournament strategy is Dan Harringtons books “Harrington on Holdem” (Both volume 1 and 2).  Dan Harrington, or “Action Dan” as he is called, literary never gave any action

That was how my journey started as well, adding a really aggressive twist during the later levels to really exploit the fact that my opponents had the perception that I was only playing the nuts.

Sit and go strategy (middle rounds)

At the medium levels at a sit and go tournament the ante often kicks in, that makes it much more lucrative to widen the opening range and start stealing those blinds and antes. It is impossible to really provide any valuable opening hand chart here because it is so dependent on your opponents at the table. I’ll talk more about that, and different spots, in the poker video below.

But as a general rule of thumb, play really tight when you are out of position. Understanding the importance of table position is one of the most important concepts to become a winning poker player, also when acting last it is so much easier not doing any big mistakes.

During each round of betting in poker you receive more information about the strength of your opponents hand. When playing in position you have more information and can thus make better decisions.

Sit and go strategy for late levels and “the bubble”

When you approach the bubble (close to money paying positons) new parameters must be taking into account. How big is your stack? Whats the blinds and antes? How is the player that is closest to going busto?

When you have a good stack in a SNG and it’s time to “play the bubble” it is a great opportunity to accumulate alot of chips and put tons of pressure on those guys that are waiting for the small stack/stacks to go broke.

Identify the weak players and their patterns and exploit them to maximum. It’s almost impossible to go through all the different spots in a blog post, so I’ll guide you further about this in the video as well.

Sit and go starting hand charts

At the first levels at a nine handed table without ante, which is the standard format at many poker sites, you should use a starting hand selection during the early levels that looks something like this:

Starting hand chart:

UTG: Raise – AQs+, TT+. Yes I was so tight that I folded AQ off at tables were I could not locate any super fishes that would call my preflop raise with a very wide range of hands. The thoughts around this is that it is so little in the pot and you have one of the worsts positions at the table, acting last on all streets against all players but the small and big blind.

Sit and go opening range utg

Sit and go opening range utg

Middle position: Raise: AJ+,99+. A bit “looser” than above. For earch spot you get closer to the button you can of course loosen up your opening range. It is also very important to mention that adjusting to the opponents at the specific table is very important. At some tables a wider range is preferable, and at some a tighter ranger is better. If you have calling stations and loose limpers acting before you, there is more reason to raise and isolate.

But since the stack sizes are much more shallow you should not raise as often as you would in the same spot at a cash game table when acting after the same type of players.

HJ: Raise A7s+, 55+. At a cash game table much looser ranges here are advised. It is just because the blinds are very small and not much to win in the pot you could as well keep a tighter approach here at the earlier rounds – something that you can exploit when it really matters and the blinds are high.

Table image is very important when “stealing” and bluffing later on.

B: Obviously the best spot at the table. Here you can, and should, raise very liberally. Any Ax, any pair and lots of suited connectors and “one gappers” is fine to raise with here. If the blinds are tight, or just loose passive, even more hands can be added to the raising range here.

Tips and tricks

There is one type of play that has worked really well in during the later levels of an sit and go and steal smaller pot without risking much. Since I’m playing such a conservative style during the earlier levels I can get away with lot’s of stuff when the blinds are high and it really matters.

One of my favourite moves is to limp from sb when everyone folded to me, and then bet half pot on the flop almost no matter what (of course you should occasionally check as well). That bet on the flop only need to work 1/3 to be profitable, and since the opponents give me ton of credit at that stage it works way more often than that.

Of course, sometimes you will face an opponent that will read the preflop limp from sb as weakness, and instantly raise, but then you now that until next time. So when I get the chance to limp in I almost always do that from sb to if I don’t already know that my opponent is really aggressive. I’ve made tons of extra chips (=money) with these types of steals.

One other grinder that I was competing with at the tables actually said to me at the table once that he picked up that specific play from me six months earlier and that he made a smaller fortune at those types of SNGs (this was 5 max at Betsafe/Microgaming) when he started to exploit his opponents tendencies to fold to much against that half pot size bet.

GTO or exploitative play?

GTO,  game theory optimal play, is a really popular concept nowadays. And when facing really good players with statistical tools in deep cash games today I understand that it is important to not play exploititative. Though when facing weaker opponents I always advocate to play and exploitative style. It doesn’t matter if some players at the table know that you would only do a certain play or raise size with a certain hand. It is better to exploit the fish at the table to maximum.

For example, if you are sitting at a only SNG and know that one player at the table will call to see the flop almost no matter how much you raise, you should of course try to find the sweet spot and maximise it when you wake up with a great hand. If you know a player is willing to call a 500 raise pre even though the antes are only 10-20, then you should go for the 500 raise right from the start with your pocket aces, kings etc.

In that way you are maximizing the value even though some better players at the table will know that you will only make this type of play with certain hands. It doesn’t matter. You’ll burn the fish in this way.

Playing the short stack

There is tons of literature of how play a short stack in poker tournaments and sit and gos. I always found myself a bit tighter than the general tips, however I have really been a master in picking my spots. Don’t only look at your hands and position when you decide what to push. This is almost just as important, who is the big blind and small blind? Do they have really shallow stacks themselves so they are almost forced to call?

Or do they have super big stacks so a call doesn’t matter to them? Pick your spots to push against the players that would be hurt by calling with a hand that don’t hold up.

This concept i very often looked over. But it is really important in maximizing your fold equity when you push your small stack.

Playing the big stack

When you have a big stack in a sit and go and you are are getting closer to money paying position you can really exploit the fact that several players are just sitting and waiting for a money paying position. You can always start off with an aggressive approach and see how that works out, if your opponents don’t bite back – be relentless and put pressure on them, especially on those “medium stacks” that are waiting for the short stacks to go busto.

I have played thousand of SNG tournaments but I have never busted my bankroll. Here is how I answearad a question regarding bankroll for sit and go's after a question for one of my popular Youtube videos.

“I recommend at least 50 buy ins as a bankroll for SNGs. But you could definitively allow yourself to take shots if you are willing and able to move down again if it doesn't work out. For example if you reach 5000$ in your bankroll you could allow yourself to play a slightly higher buy in SNGs for some sessions if you set the limit to move back to the lower stake if you go down to 4.000$ again. That set up worked for me.

I allowed myself to play higher games and learn, but I'm always willing to move down again if it don't work out . Then I try again when you built up your bankroll to that level again.”

Sit and go starting stacks

The starting stacks for Sit and go's varies a lot between different poker sites. But usual numbers are 1.500 starting stacks with blinds starting at 10-20. And some poker sites use slightly higher numbers such as 2.000 in starting stack.

There is also really fast sit and go's, or spin and go's as they are called on Pokerstars where the starting stack is only 500 and the blinds increase super fast.

Different formats: turbo, hyper turbo and “spin and go”

Also the speed came to change a lot with faster and faster tournaments got more popular, they were called turbo sit and gos, and hyper turbo sit and gos. Those type of fast tournaments took another step when “Spin and go”-tournaments were introduced on Pokerstars, and similar versions popped up at competing poker sites.

These new types of sit and go tournaments were super fast, with really small starting stacks and super fast bling increases. More and more luck got involved in the game and players seemed to like it.

Even though more luck is involved in each separate game, there is still a lot of room to make good or bad poker decisions. This means better players were able to play more games per hour, thus increasing the hourly win rate even though the luck factor was bigger than before in a separate SNG tournament.

Why you should play SNG tournaments?

Then why should you play sit and go tournaments. Here is the reasons:

  • You can play anytime you want
  • You can play for the stakes you want, and you will never lose more than you expected when buying into the Sit and go tournament.
  • It is a low variance game. Since there are few entrants in every SNG you will win money in them on a frequent basis, about 20-30% of the entrants will get a cash prize usually. Thus the variance and swings for your bankroll will be smaller than if you play MTTs or cash games.
  • You will get very good at ICM decisions.
  • They are a great way to learn to play poker
  • Easy to become decent sit and go player with my outlined strategy

What do you miss by online playing SNGs?

There is also some things that you will miss out on if you focus solely on SNGs when you play poker.

  • You won’t get the experience of playing bigger stacks as you will in multi table tournaments and especially cash games.
  • You will get very good at some aspects of the game, though by not learning to play cashgames and MTTs you will face tough decisions when you do try it.
  • You will be able to win good money on a frequent basis when you play SNGs. Though you will never be able to end up with a really big score as you do if you play MTTs.

Best online poker sites for Sit and gos

Then, what is the best online poker sites if you want to play sit and go's today? Well, here is my favourites considering action in the games running and competition.

Unibet Poker – Softest competition

– Great software and lot's of different in games running

Pokerstars – Biggest poker site in the world.

SNG payout structure

Another important thing to take into consideration is the payout structure for the tournament. In some SNGs the winner receives a large chunk of the pool and that changes the dynamics even further. An illustrating example was the turbo 6 max tournaments I played on Cryptologic (Ladbrokes) back in the days. The structure was super fast with blind increases every ten hands. And the payout structure was 75% to the winner, and 25 % to the runner up.

That means the winner got 4,5x their initial buy in, compared to 1,5 for the second place. When playing the bubble in that case it was super lucrative to play really aggressive before the bubble to maximize the times you won the tournament. Going busto as third some more times than if I had chosen a passive approach was no problem since the times I won I took almost the whole pot. My winnings on that network skyrocketed when I adjusted my SNG strategy to the payout structure. So it is a very important factor to take into consideration, both in SNG’s and MTT’s.

Return on investment and hourly win rates

If you are really serious about winning poker att sit and goes you should really track your ROI per game. That means return on investment. If you win 15$ on average on every 100$ sit and go your ROI is 15 percent. That is really good by the way.

Another factor to take into consideration is your hourly rate. For example your ROI SNG might go down if you start multitabling and playing several sit and go simultaneously. But if it don’t drop to much you will probably win more per hour anyway by adding more games.

For example playing one sit and go per hour at 15% ROI on 100$ stake gives you 15$ per hour. But if you play two games every our at the same time at a lower ROI at 9%, you will still be better off earning 18$ per hour with the two games running.

So here it is important to find your sweet spot in the number of simultaneous tables and how that affects your ROI and win rate per our.

Whats the difference between sit and go´s and multi table tournaments?

The biggest difference between sit and go´s and multi table tournaments is the number of entrants and the payouts. The money distributed in a multi table tournament is extremely top heavy. Therefore there is a lot to gain by playing a style that rather win a tournament now and then, instead of many ITM finishes. Good players take advantage of that when they are close to money paying positions and applying lots of pressure there on the weaker players that just want a spot in the money.

Whats the difference between sit and go´s and poker cashgames?

If there is differencens between sit and gos and MTTs it is even more differencens when you compare it to cashgames. On cash games the blinds are always fixed and they will never increase. Also the stack depth is way wider in cash games, that makes speculative hands such as small suited connectors much more valuable. You get way better implied odds on a cash game. That means that when you do hit a really big hand you can get way more out of it than in a tournament where the stacks are shallow.

It is primarily the stack deph that makes the difference. And that causes big shifts in the strategy.

How to build a poker hand

When you play Texas Holdem Sit and go´s the hand rankings are exactly the same as they are for most poker games.

Texas Holdem hand rankings

Read more about poker strategy

How to play poker

Poker staking

Sit and go FAQ

How do you win sit and go poker?

In order to win at sit and go poker you need to play tight and agressive. Read a full explanation of winning sit and go poker strategy in this post.

Which sit and go is most profitable?

Unibet poker has the most profitable sit and go's at the moment. That is because they have a really low rake and also the competition is really soft. The sit and go's at Unibet are easier because they many odds and casino players are joining them.

How do you beat sit and go low stakes?

In order to beat low stakes sit and go's you need to play very tight and agressive poker. Enter few pots and chosse your premium hands to enter them.

Can you make money playing sit and gos?

Yes, of course you can make money playing sit and gos. The founder of PokerCoachO.com, and the author of this post has made over 50.000$ playing poker sit and go's.

Best poker sites for Sit and go's

WPT Global

5/5
  • + Great bonus and freerolls
  • + Soft games
  • + Bonuscode: pokercoacho
5/5

GG poker

5/5
  • + Biggest poker site in the world
  • + Great welcome bonus
  • + Fast withdrawals
5/5

Pokerstars

5/5
  • + Biggest poker site in the world for tournaments
  • + Big online series like WCOOP and SCOOP
  • + Satellites to EPT events
5/5