Single table tournaments, more commonly referred to as Sit & Go’s, are the next stop on your journey to Texas Hold ’em poker fame. These tournaments are played similar to a typical game of poker that you may play at home with friends and family, with the exception that there is more than one overall winner. It is though the obvious place to start as there is a chance of coming away with more money then you started with and is a great place to build on your skills.
These tournaments have appeared out of the online poker community and have a large variety of game levels available to play.
If you have ever been involved with a poker tournament run by your local pub, then you have probably been exposed to the concept of Sit & Go tournaments.
With these types of tournaments there is more than one winner. These are typically the last three players left at the table. Each of the remaining players then battles it out for first, second and third position which dictates their winnings; usually 50% of the prize fund for first place, 30% for second and 20% for third.
Sit & Go’s will generally start with around ten players and players are eliminated one by one and cannot be replaced by another player as they can be in some multi-table games. It’s like playing at the final table in a multi-table poker tournament and tends to be much shorter than a full-blown
poker tournament. If you only have an hour or so to spare, these are the ideal way to increase your knowledge and experience, while taking home some winnings in the process.
These games tend to be convenient and fun and there doesn’t have to be a lot of money at stake. Therefore it’s a great place to learn more about poker and to hone your newly acquired skills, almost for pocket change.
Practising online is an ideal way to become more proficient at poker whilst learning to play a higher game, without your family and friends learning your strategies as you go. In no time soon you will be raking in their hard- earned cash on get together poker nights!
ONLINE GAME LEVELS
You can find different game levels in the online poker rooms varying upwards from $5 games. You need to be able to ‘buy in’ to the game and will generally need around twenty times the buy in amount in order to progress to higher level games.
For instance, if you were playing a low-level $5 game and after a period of time decided that you would like to play the $10 game, then you would need a minimum of $200 in order to play. It’s therefore a good strategy to start with the lowest games and progress your way up through the levels. Be warned though, as you get to the higher levels you will be competing with experienced and highly skilled poker players!
You can expect to see a return of around 20% or so, give or take, on your investment (if you could call it an investment) on average regardless of which game you play and you should expect to rise up to the next level for every 100-150 successful games won.
It is important to remember to play at a level that you are comfortable with and even more important to enjoy playing at that level. It’s pointless playing at the higher levels and repeatedly losing and it’s certainly not an enjoyable way to spend your time. The excellent thing
about playing Sit & Go’s online is that if you have lost a couple of higher level games and your account looks a little low, you can drop to the smaller games and recoup your loses and build up your experience & confidence before going on once again to the higher levels.
If you have learnt to play a good game of Hold ’em and you do not get carried away with your emotions too easily, then you should have no problems playing the lower level games. These games are cheap to buy in to and the players that frequent these games are usually either beginners, or less serious players. Either way their strategy is not usually very good and if you play a good Sit & Go strategy, then you will be playing the higher level games in no time at all.
There are various types of Sit & Go games available to play online and they are all different. When starting you just need to stick with the standard Sit & Go and steer clear of these other variations, but as you progress you may want to try some of the other styles.
There are games that have a full compliment of players, but the blinds are raised at a quicker rate. As a result, the game tends to be much faster.
Another variation of the Sit & Go is a game with fewer players. Seeing as there are a smaller number of players to begin with, it is usual that only the final two players have a claim to a percentage of the pot, rather than the usual three. You may like to have a go at this type of game when you feel that you have more experience and are able to win the standard Sit & Go’s fairly frequently.
You will also see some games that only have two players that are playing Heads-Up. This is something to have a go at when you become a Hold ’em expert and have learnt the different strategies involved in playing this type of game.
SIT & GO STRATEGY
So what is the strategy for playing Sit & Go’s? To begin with at the start of the game, it is not your intention to play too aggressively. Your intention is to hold on to your chip pile, gradually increase the amount of chips you hold, while playing a strategy that will keep you in the game and see you playing in the final three.
Sit & Go strategy can get fairly complex but we shall keep it simple. As your experience grows, you will see how other players seem to play these games and can enhance your strategy accordingly.
STAGE 1 – PLAY TIGHT
At the start of the game the blinds are low and there are a high number of players in the game. At this point you need to play an extremely tight game for two core reasons; a) So that you do not waste chips playing looser hands unnecessarily (remember, you are aiming to be playing in the final three) and b) So that you get a reputation at the table of being a tight player which will help you later on in the game.
If you are holding any pair from 2-2 upwards to J-J in the hole, then play the hand. Similarly, also play A-K and A-Q also.
If your pocket cards show any top pair, A-A, K-K or Q-Q then you would be best to play a bit more on the aggressive side and re-raise.
If you have anything else other than these hands do not be tempted to play them. Fold them immediately.
EVEN TIGHTER STRATEGY
It may be that you wish to play an even tighter game during this stage of game play and another strategy is only to play the big hands.
If you hold A-A, K-K, Q-Q or A-K then you will play the hand, otherwise you will fold.
If you’ve got A-K, then you will be looking to play aggressively and look to re-raise any player that raises before the flop. If on the flop you don’t hit a pair, then it
may be better to fold.
Like all rules however, there are exceptions and there is
one here that is determined by the amount of chips that you have in your stack. If you hold a pocket pair (2-2 to J-J) and the cost for you to call is less than around a 1/15th of your total chips, then call. For example, if you have 800 chips, then you will only call if you can do so for around 50 or so chips.
You are looking to make either a Set or an Over Pair on the flop and if you make a set, then you would be in a good position to go All-in if the opportunity allows. If you get an over pair, then be a bit more cautious before deciding whether or not going all-in would be wise.
STAGE 2 – FIGHT FOR THE PRIZE FUND
During the game the blinds will continually raise and players will get less and less as they are played off the table. This also means that there are more chips for each remaining player. You are now playing for one of the top three positions. There is no prize for any position lower than that, so you need to start playing a bit looser.
This stage will start when the amount that needs to be paid for the blinds is around 1/15th of your chips. When the Bubble bursts, (the term used for when there are only three players remaining in the game), then your strategy needs to change once again, but for this stage of the game you need a different strategy.
You will be assisted by the fact that you have been playing a strict tight game up until now, so your opponents will expect you to keep playing in this way.
SIZE DOES MATTER!
The more chips that you have, the better position you will be in. You are looking to push players with less chips than you out of the game by raising and re-raising or even going all-in in order to push them to fold. If they call, then they must have a good hand, but if they lose the hand to you, then they are out and you can claim their chips.
If you are running short of chips though, you will need to look at different strategies to remain in the game, such as Blind-Stealing, in order to increase your chips. Play strong hands, such as J-J, Q-Q and K-K or any of these with an Ace. You are looking to move all-in before the flop rather than attempt raising.
Going all-in with a small stack is really your only option. In all of these cases though, make sure that you are playing good hands and don’t take a chance on playing outside hands. Play a good quality, aggressive game and don’t try to go up against players with more chips that you, unless you are really sure that you have a big hand.
INCREASE YOUR CHIPS
The closer you get to the final number of players to have a claim on the prize fund, you may notice that players start to play really tight, not wanting to be pushed out before qualifying for part of the money.
You can take advantage of this and look to increase your chips for the final stage, by frequently stealing blinds. Once the bubble bursts and your playing for the size of the prize, you will start in a good position with a big stack of chips.
STAGE 3 – FIGHT FOR POSITION
Once you are in the final three, you can be rest assured that you are going home with a share of the prize fund. Now you need to step up a gear and play an aggressive game in order to play for a bigger slice of the pie.
Your main aim is to look to increase your slice by coming first, or even second, but be satisfied in the knowledge that you are already a winner. In effect you can’t lose from now on, you can only gain.
Play aggressive both before and after the flop and look to move all-in when your chips are getting low (as a guide this is usually around ten big blind payments). Don’t just look to ‘Hang on in there’ and accept third position. You have everything to gain, so move forward and become more forceful.
When you are in the final two players and playing Heads Up then you need to push. Raising and re-raising will help here and the bigger your stack the better. Look for patterns and plan your strike to claim the top prize.