What is a Sit and Go Poker Tournament? How To Play?

There aren’t many poker formats as popular as sit and go. This can be the perfect format for both beginners and seasoned pros. The following article will take a look at what exactly sit and go’s are, how they work, their pros and cons, and some actionable strategic advice.

How Sit and Go Tournaments Work

poker chips in shape of a question markSit and go poker games are essentially a final table. As the name suggests, sit and go games can be played at any time of day as there is no set schedule like other types of tournaments. As long as there are sufficient players, the game will start immediately.

Sit and go tournaments tend to be much faster in terms of duration than other types of poker tournaments. Some multi-table tournaments can take hours, but sit and go games are unlikely to take more than an hour, even with a lot of players.

These sorts of tournaments are perfect for new beginners as they are usually low stakes and relatively quick to play. This allows new players to get a feel for the game and learn strategies quickly.

Sit and Go Tournament Structure

Slot TournamentsAs we have already mentioned, sit and go tournaments are typically going to have a much faster pace when compared to other forms of poker tournaments. Initially, sit and go tournaments featured around nine to 10 players in a tournament with the blind levels set to 10 minutes. Just like in most areas of gambling, things started to evolve and progress, and sit and go tournaments took on new and different formats.

There is now a tendency for players to engage in Hyper-Turbo and Six Max Turbo sit and go tournaments, being much faster in their overall structure. The reason behind this preference is simple: skill and tactics are often sacrificed in order to gain a much higher win rate on an hourly basis.

Of course, the fast pace of these tournaments does eliminate a lot of the skilful aspects found in more normal or slower-paced games, but there are still inherent risks involved as players are not given much time to consider their strategies.

Some of the most popular tournaments for players who enjoy playing on multiple tables are ‘Heads Up’ sit and go tournaments. These tournaments offer players very fast blind levels, with players aiming to obtain as high a volume as they can and proceed to make profits from the returns from online poker rooms.

Maximising Return on Investment

time and moneyMost online poker players will be on the lookout to make big profits from their games, and the most serious of players will always tend to make this their most precious target. Measuring winnings for sit and go tournaments are usually conducted via a win rate based hourly and Return of Investment. Different players will likely have their own views on which is more important to them, but it is understood by most players that having a higher hourly win rate will more than likely produce higher amounts of money.

Calculating Return of Investment is quite straightforward as it is the given average to make a buy-in for every tournament that a player enters. Providing a quick example, if a player decides to enter a sit and go tournament playing with £10 with the Return of Investment is set at 10%, this will mean that the player’s winnings will be £1 in every tournament.

Sit and Go Tournament Strategy

poker chips big blind little blind tokens

Typically, sit and go tournaments are placed within three phases, each one being very important. The three phases include The Early Phase; The Middle Phase; The Late Phase.

The Early Phase

The start of sit and go tournaments can typically feature 100 BBs which will produce a high stack-to-blind ratio. This then means players won’t have any real reason to make anything other than strong holdings. A crucial aspect to bear in mind for the early phase of a sit and go tournament is to preserve chips if a player goes without big hands. It is better to wait as the blinds will start to rise.

The Middle Phase

The middle phases of a sit and go tournament are when antes are introduced. The antes are an important aspect for sit and go tournaments because they will start making pots even more considerable and worthy of ‘stealing’. For the time being, it is estimated that the average for stacks will be around 20 BBs. A good play in this instance is the ‘re-shove’ because the players will frequently open hands they aren’t prepared to stack off with in hopes of stealing blinds. In this phase, you can steal a lot of chips without having to see a showdown.

The Late Phase

This is the phase where we hit the bubble. This is where things get serious and every play can make or break how much you walk away with. Understanding and implementing a strong push-fold game will be incredibly helpful at this stage. It’s important to note that open/folds are rare at this stage. If you go into a hand, be prepared to go all in.

Sit and Go Poker Pros and Cons

poker rake

Just like with most types of poker and other games, there will inherently be various pros and cons attributed to them. The pros and cons linked to sit and go poker can vary considerably.

Pro – Added Flexibility

One of the main pros for many poker players who play range poker variants is the added flexibility that comes with sit and go tournaments. These games allow you to join and start when the mood takes you, unlike scheduled games.

The fact sit and goes are far shorter than many other poker games also added flexibility and makes them easy to fit into a busy schedule as a nice break, rather than something you have to plan around.

A final note on flexibility is how quickly you can find out the result. Some players hate the drawn-out nature of longer format games, especially when they end up not going their way. This isn’t a worry with a far faster sit and go game.

Pro – Reduced Variance

Nobody likes variance, even when you win, it can be a somewhat hollow victory when you know you made objectively the wrong calls. If you want to avoid variance, sit and go games are a good way to reduce it.

Sit and go games have the propensity to be far less volatile and so have less opportunity for lucky bad beats. Due to the higher number of players taking home a cash prize in sit and go tournaments, variance can be reduced. This is especially true when compared to tournaments where only the top 10% or so of players see any prize money.

Pro – A Chance to Improve Short-Hand and Heads-Up Play

The nature of sit and go games forces players into specific situations that you might not see as often in other forms of poker. The two most notable of which are short-hand play and heads-up play.

From the off, you’ll likely be playing against few players so short-hand play is a given. This sort of poker differs from bigger tables where you might want to play tighter, given the number of potential players in a hand, especially if out of position. This brings with it its own

skills which you can develop and improve through participation in sit and go tournaments.

Heads up poker refers to 1vs1 and likely given how few players need to drop out before you’re put in that situation. In large tournament games or even poker games with larger tables, heads up is less likely. Playing heads up requires different skills and sit and go games are great places to hone these due to the likelihood of being placed in this scenario.

Con – Can Become Repetitive and Even Tedious

This point is hugely dependent on two things: your personality and how often you play sit and go poker games.

Games can become somewhat formulaic compared to other forms of poker but this isn’t necessarily an issue for many people. Particularly if you’re new to the game, you’ll be presented with hundreds of situations you aren’t familiar with so this point is unlikely to apply.

If you’re fairly new to the game, the sometimes repetitive nature of a sit and go game can actually be a good thing. There’s no better way to learn than through experience, but one experience isn’t enough to teach you for life. You’ll need regular exposure to simpler situations in order to get to grips with what to do and how to do it. For this reason, sit and go games can be brilliant in their formulaic nature.

More experienced players can find this sort of game a little bit boring. That’s understandable if they have played hours and hours of poker and prefer a different approach to the game.

Con – Difficult Opponents

This is definitely dependent on the buy-in, but higher buy-in sit and goes can attract more experienced players. If you’re keen to avoid this, it’s definitely worth going for lower or micro-stake games. However, some intermediate players may welcome the challenge as they look to step up their game.

In general, players have increased their skill level in recent years, so no matter where you play, you’re likely to find opponents who know what they’re doing. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as players who have absolutely no idea are some of the hardest to predict, making decisions that simply don’t make sense.

Nevertheless, if you’re keen to avoid players who may have the edge on you, pick your games carefully and stick to the cheaper buy-ins until you feel more confident.

Con – Consistent Wins Take Patience

This point is true for all types of poker. If you want to win consistently, you will need to be informed and competent. There’s no substitute for expertise and experience so if you’re hoping to win sit and go games consistently, you will need to learn the ropes.

Luckily, sit and go games are one of the ‘easier’ types of games to get to grips with and knuckle down on the different scenarios that will present themselves. If you play sit and go games often, you’ll soon realise what skills are needed and, with experience, can develop those to win consistently.

You will, no doubt, come across inexperienced players who do not yet understand the basics of the game, particularly if you pick the right buy-ins. Against these players, you can put what you have learnt to good use to consistently end up in the money positions.

The Bottom Line

folding hand poker flying acesPoker players who have thought about sit and go players will tend to question whether or not they are worth their time and their effort, ultimately asking whether or not they can actually make money in these tournaments. The straight answer would be yes, players can make profits from these sit and go tournaments. The longer answer would, however, come with some caveats and considerations as some players are more likely than others to succeed in this type of poker.

Overall, sit and go tournaments can be rather demanding of players who must have a firm grasp on maths as well as strategies. Of course, this can be quite daunting for those who have yet to break through in the scene, but the old adage of practise makes perfect can apply here. With more dedication to playing these tournaments, the more the player will become familiar with things.

Players should be prepared to experience some ups and downs no matter what they decide to play, and this is most certainly true for sit and go tournaments where variables are everything. It is worth bearing in mind the various concepts and features we have discussed in this article, but the most telling thing when it comes to sit and go tournaments is to ask yourself whether you feel ready to enter this very different and rather demanding type of poker format.