Winning Sit-n-Go’s

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A Sit-n-Go is a one-table poker tournament. They typically pay either 100-percent to the winner, or pay three places, 50-30-20. This style of tournament is also used as a satellite, or super-satellite for large buy-in tournaments. Tom McEvoy won the main event of the 1983 WSOP through a satellite.

Successful Sit-n-Go players are well-versed at short-handed games. If this isnt your forte, you better be a solid, aggressive players. No-limit poker is most likely to be found in Sit-n-Gos.

Standard Structure of Sit and Go’s

In a typical 9-player event, each player puts up $125 and the game is winner-take-all. The extra $125  is the tournament fee. A house dealer handles the cards and the pots. You’ll want to check the rules carefully before playing.

If it’s a timed tournament, expect an hour of play before the player with the most chips after the final hand, wins. In a freeze-out, play ends when one player has all the chips. Either way, you’ll have to be aggressive, partly because the limits go up quickly, but also because after just a few players are knocked out you are in a very short-handed game.


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That’s not the time to get blinded away.

At the same time, you should be patient during the early moments, because the blinds will start small and you’ll be risking your whole tournament to win a comparatively small pot. And, you’ll find that players tend to go all-in quickly, as early as the first hand, and having a few players knocked out right away improves your odds of making the money.

One Hour Timed Events

In this structure, the blinds are likely to go up every ten minutes. You cant be too patient, but you will have a chance to turn even a small stack into a winning position if you make it to the final two hands. That will only happen if you manage to last the first 55-minutes, so consider being patient and not getting all-in on a coin-flip right away.

The idea is that you’ll have a hand with better odds later on, and even if you have to play a so-so hand when you get close to the end, your chances of catching a big pot and winning are better at the end.

Freeze-Out Events

You won’t have the added incentive of winning a big pot against five or six players at the end of a freeze-out that you have in a timed event. In fact, you probably won’t even have six players after 15-minutes of play, so you’ll have to be more and more aggressive as the players drop out. You should see more hands early for lower amounts and try to double-up whenever you can.

You’ll be more willing to take a chance on a big pair against more than one opponents in a freeze-out, but it’s still optimal to get down to heads-up if you can with Aces, Kings and Queens. Remember, its not just lasting, you have to beat all of your opponents.

Winning Play for Sit-N-Go’s

You will have to keep ahead of the blinds, so try to steal small pots or the blinds if you can.  You’ll also want to take some chances on draws early-on when the blinds are small when you can limp-in or call on the flop for a small bet even if the pot-odds arent that great.

With big hands, like Aces through Jacks and AK, you’ll really want to narrow the field, so consider going all-in from early or middle position. You only want a single caller most of the time. From late position you can afford a smaller raise and try to trap someone or even two players, which can get you a nice stack heading into later rounds.

You’ll probably also want to just make a small bet or limp with medium pairs from middle or late position. Don’t put so much into the middle that you get pot-committed. And, don’t try overly-aggressive continuation bets on the flop, as you are likely to get played back at.

Evaluating the Other Player’s Stacks

You are going to have to become adept at reading players and their chip stacks very quickly. Because of the short nature of the tournament, you’ll want to crush small bets with much larger ones, especially when dealing with a limp or just the blinds.

You’ll also want to beat-down the short stacks every chance you get. Not just because they are vulnerable, but because they will play back at you often.

Suppose you are down to five players and four players have 90-percent of the chips and one player has just 10-percent. If that player is you, know that you’ll probably have someone go all-in against you every time you have a blind up or limp. Use that knowledge to your advantage. If that short stack is someone else, lean on ‘em. Just don’t do it with nothing, because they are likely to call a short-stack (especially in the blind) with most anything.

On the Bubble

If you get down to four or five players in a tournament that pays three places, you can continue to be aggressive with short stacks, because they are thinking of survival. That’s easy money time. If it’s a close decision, go all-in from position and make them commit. You’re likely to pick-up some chips.

If you are the short stack, realize you’re going to be in the blind half of the time. The first decent hand is an all-in for you, preferably against another small stack, because the big stack is going to call. If you have more than 10 binds, you can also sit back and watch the other knock each other out.

Once you make the money, play aggressively again. Be aggressive and bluff when you can, because the short stack is likely to toss a few weak hands and the middle or big stack may also toss medium hands to a raise. If you are the small stack, only go all-in against the middle stack if you can. Otherwise, try to go all-in as a first raise so you still have a chance of taking down the chips without a flop (unless of course you score a big hand).

Short-handed means a lot more hands are playable. You are going to have to be very aggressive at this point, likely pushing with any pair or two big cards. Many free online poker tournaments are of a Sit-n-Go variety, so give em a try!

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