Sit-n-Go Theory Explained

Common Terms Used

The following terms are used quite a lot throughout the system documentation.


Sit-n-Go. Sit-n-Go’s are short tournaments that are played in 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the initial buy-in and site you’re playing on. These tourneys usually have only 9 or 10 players and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers win part of the prize pool (Finish In The Money -ITM). Typically they are paid 50%, 30% and 20% of the total prize pool respectively. So if you are playing a 9 man $55 buyin sit-n-go, the total prize pool is 9 X $55 = $495. The first place finisher wins $247.5, second place $148.5 and third wins $99. The cost per tourney is usually about 10% of the buy-in. For the $55 tourney it might be $5. So the total cost to you is $60. This must be deducted from the total winnings. So if you finish 4th place, your net loss is $60. If you finish 1st, then the net gain is $187. When people discuss SNG’s they typically will call them 50+5’s or 10+1’s. The first number is the buy-in amount $10 or $50 and the second number is the cost to play. So if you play a $10+1, you will have $11 deducted from your account.


Return on Investment. This is the return you make on average. This term is used by winning players to judge how well they are doing. Common convention says that its possible to make 15-20% ROI at lower stakes SNG’s. At the upper stakes ($50 and above), this number drops down to around 10-15%. While the ROI is lower, the buy-in is bigger so you typically can still make more. Many people grind out big profits part time staying at the low limits. They play up to 10 tournaments at a time (max we recommend is 6-8). Since late stage play is so horrible, many times a tight tournament with selected aggression can consistently win.


In the money. In most 10 person sit-n-gos, the top 3 finishers are paid. If you are in 1st, 2nd or 3rd, you have finished ITM.

All players being equal….

Here’s the deal. All things being equal, if you play ten 10 person $50+5 SNGs. And all players are playing the same and are at the same skill level, here’s what will happen – in the long term:

1st place finish – 1X 2nd place finish – 1X 3rd place finish – 1X 4th –10th place–7X


($250 X1) – $50 ($150 X1) – $50 ($100 x1) – $50

= $200 = $100 = $50

($0x1)–($50×7)=-$350 = 0

It’s a wash. You are totally break even. Everyone just wasted 7-10 hours of their day. Now, notice we were missing something in our calculation?

With Rake/Buy-in Deducted

Yep.. you got it. The initial cost to play. This is the “rake” the house gets. The following table shows the total with rake included:

So – in reality, you lost! That sucks. You lost $50 bucks and so did everyone else. This tells us something very important about sit-n-gos. In order to be a winning player, you must have an edge over the other players. You can’t play the same basic poker that everyone else is playing and expect to make money playing sit-n-gos.

Case Analysis on Winning Players

Here are some other key details to look at when looking at the facts surrounding SNGs.

Lets say you finish ITM 40% (4 out of 10) but that extra win is only a 3rd place finish (no 10th place finish). Here’s what the numbers look like now:

Now we’re talking… That extra third place finish bumped us into the making money zone – granted, its not a lot but its some.

Lets look at the other cases as well, extra second place and extra first place:

So, as you can see it definitely pays to get that extra first place instead of a 3rd or even second place. The difference is about $50 vs $200. This is an important principle to remember. A fairly large difference between first and third place. About 3 buy-ins in fact. This will be important when we look at ITM strategies and even bubble play.

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