Beginners SNG Guide

So you're ready to start playing SNG poker tournaments? A SNG poker tournament is similar to regular poker tournaments, except that the tournament begins as soon as all the available seats in the tournament have been filled. All the popular online poker sites offer different types of Sit N Go's including multi-table tournaments, heads-ups tourneys, but the most popular ones are single table ones, which usually have nine or ten players.

There is a lot of money to be made playing in SNGs, but you will need to get a better understanding of basic SNG poker strategy in order to fine tune your game so you can get your hands on the prize money more often then not. Like all forms of poker, if you want to be successful at Sit N Go's you need to be dedicated and committed to becoming a better SNG player.

Bankroll Requirements for SNGs

A beginner SNG player would want to get started by playing in the lower level SNGs ($1-$3). By playing in these games the skill level of the other players will be comparable to you as they will be just as inexperienced, and because you're playing lower stake SNGs you won't need a big bankroll to start.

When playing SNGs you should at least 40 buy-ins for the level you're playing. For example, if you were playing $3 SNGs to begin with, it would be recommended that you have at least $120. You will have winning streaks and you will have losing streaks but by practicing smart bankroll management it will enable you to stay in the game. Whenever you don't make the money it's not going to impact your mindset because your bankroll can tolerate the losses. Had you played above your roll then you're going to feel the tournament knockouts much more.

Early Stages of SNGs

At the beginning of SNGs you really want to avoid all-in situations unless you have a very strong hand because you're putting your tournament life on the line. You should play tight at the start of the tournament. Play hands like suited aces, suited kings, any suited connectors, any pocket pair, and obviously any good starting hands like AJ+, KJ+, and a few other speculative hands that can flop well if you expect no one to raise the limpers and to have position in the hand.

If you have a rubbish hand, don't be tempted to play it, even when the blinds are still very small in relation to your stack, since even when you make some kind of hand, there is the potential of being dominated, and you stand to lose a big pot or win a really small one.

During the early stages of the tournament you just want to survive. You can't win the SNG if you don't have any chips. With fairly deep stacks, it plays similar to cash games. The important thing to remember early on in Sit N Go's is to practice patience. Don't play junk hand or attempt crazy bluffs in these low buy-in tournaments players don't know how to fold so you will just be donating chips to them.

By observing the table and playing conservatively, it also helps you to figure out their game, and begin to identify their weaknesses that you will want to exploit during the later stages of the SNG.

When playing against loose/aggressive players, they are always looking to attack weakness at every opportunity, so you can tighten up against these players and let them bluff of their stack. But against tight players you want to be looking for good spots to attack them and keep accumulating chips to your stack.

Middle Stages of SNGs

After a few blind levels several players would have got knocked out of the tournament. This is the stage of the tournament where as the blind levels progress through the next level every 15 minutes or so, the blinds get bigger relative to stack sizes. By sticking with a tight/passive approach you will inevitable get blinded out of the tournament because the levels are very short. So, you really need to loosen up a bit by playing more hands because it's impossible to keep accumulating chips if you're not involved in pots. You still want to avoid playing extremely weak hands, but hands with aces, broadway hands, and other speculative hands that flop well are all very playable. The aim is to win lots of small pots uncontested to help you remain at or above the average stack size.

Late Stages of SNGs

Hopefully you will have survived until the final stages of the tournament with still a healthy look stack to play with. If you've made the final table and have a decent sized stack in relation to the other players, by this stage you're really looking to up the aggression to put pressure on the other players, especially the short stacks. The short stacked players will be looking to double up and will be pushing with a wide range of hands so don't be scared to stack off lighter against them.