Basic Sit-n-Go Terms

Our general SNG theory

The general tournament theory we use at systematic poker is to play tight but add selective aggression when the odds say it’s ok. Normally this is more of a function of our stack size compared to the blind size – as opposed to what hands we get. A system might be able to be designed that would all together ignore the hands you get and instead play only position, blind size and stage of the tourney. Of course we don’t recommend this but it would be an interesting experiment. You must be familiar with the basics of odds to apply our system successfully. Don’t overcomplicate things – you can use numbers like 70/30 or 60/40 – don’t sweat a couple % points here and there.

The system can be used at $5+1 through $50+5. The lower the limits, the better it will work in general. At least – it will be easier to apply.

The importance of M

This is another key section. M is used to represent your stack size compared to the blinds and antes. In our system, we focus on sit-n- gos (9 or 10 man). Usually these don’t have antes so it usually doesn’t mater too much whether you add these or not – by the time they do come, the blinds are so high anyway that they make no real difference in our decisions.. We are interested in a very simplified version of M. Much has been written on the subject of M – if your interested, visit 2+2 forums and search for “M sitngo” or something similar. You can also check out Harringtons book on tournaments. He has a very detailed section on M and how he applies it in MTT’s.

Basically, we only use M in the following way:

“To keep track of where we are at in a tourney – how much firepower we have – how desperate of a situation we are in”

To compute M, simply add up the total of the blinds and antes, and divide your current stack size by this number. For example, if blinds are 20/40, and your stack is 2000, your M is 2000/(20+40) = 33.

The following table looks at some examples of M computation for your reference. These were picked because they are all fairly common situations you can find yourself in.

Basic SNG Tourney Structure (typical structure)

Every site you play on has different sit-n-go structures. Some start you with 2000 chips, some with 1500 chips, others with 1000 chips. The blind structures change as well. The good news is that they all are very similar. I’ve picked a very common format to base the system on. It consists of 3 early stages, followed by two middles, two lates and one do or die stage. The stages are color coded to help. The way the stages are determined is as follows. Assuming your stack size doesn’t change throughout the tournament, but the blinds continue to go up, your M will gradually drop. Early stage is the stage when your M is > 20. Middle is between 6-13. Late is between 4-5 and Do or Die (DOD) is between 2-3. You should be able to make a similar table for any site you play on. Also, if blinds/starting chips/ levels change, you don’t need an updated manual – you can adjust as needed.

Here is the format we use in this manual:

Notice the level is the blind level – each level lasts typically 5-10 minutes. I’ve also added the players left column. On average, the number shown provides details on how many people will typically be around. Notice on the DOD stage (red) the players left is 4. This is typically where the bubble begins. We keep the DOD stage in the Stage 1 section because there are many times when there will be 5 or more people around still at the DOD stage. Don’t get hung up on the number of players left – this is more of a reference for showing the average number of players that will still be in.

Key Terms Used in Discussing Rules of System

A – Ace

K – King

Q –Queen

J – Jack

T- Ten

ATs – Ace Ten Suited

ATo – Ace Ten offsuited

AT – Ace Ten (suited or offsuited)

Ax – Ace plus ANY card. Typically used to refer to some other card less than Ten. For example A2 – A9 could be called Ax.

TT+ – Ten Ten or better. This is TT,JJ,QQ,KK or AA. Likewise 99+ would be any pocket pair, 99 or better.

Other Terms:

IP: blah blah blah : IP (Important Principle). This is a very important point that we don’t want you to overlook. These are highlighted to stand out.

Continuation bet: This is a bet made after someone has raised pre- flop. Usually if someone raises before the flop, they will make a continuation bet after the flop – whether they have a hand or not.

“all-in pushbot” style of play: This refers to the syle of play most popular in SNG’s where you go all-in once M’s have reached a certain level. The idea is that you remove any chances of making mistakes, and leave yourself at the mercy of your odds alone. This is good for later stages since blinds get so huge and any timid play is gone after aggressively. We hit certain stages in the tourney when your only move is all-in. You also remove the option of your opponent possibly bluffing or drawing out on you with some crazy hand. It still happens, but he is less likely to call if you pushed all- in. You want maximum fold equity most of the time (exception is if you have AA or are slow playing).

“play passive” This term is used to refer to your play after the flop. If you are instructed to play passive, you should check and fold if someone makes a bet at the pot (unless the bet is 10-20 chips or some other ridiculously low amount).

Other Clarifications

Sometimes we say stuff like the following:

“If you have 22-88 you should limp in. If you don’t flop a set, you will fold to any bet after the flop.“

Now, in some cases it might be ok to call a bet. For example, if your M is 20+, and the bet to call is only a big bet (40 chips and you have 2000 for example). In this case, its ok to call the 40 chip bet. You might still get lucky and hit a set. He could be slow playing AA and in this case, you will double up. So in some cases, if the amount to call is ridiculously low, go ahead and call. If the call is about 50-100 chips then you get into the grey zone where folding is probably ok.


If we say raise from early position, the use the following guide to know if you are in early/mid/late/button/etc:

Position – 10 Man

Generally speaking, as people are knocked out, you adjust the positions by removing early and then middles.

Position – 6 Man

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