Tournament Strategy - Sit N Go Strategy
written by: John
One of the most popular forms of playing online poker today would be either in the form of tournaments or sit n go's. Unlike cash games where a player is playing with a chunk of his bankroll in front of him or her, tournaments and sit n go's offer players a chance to play only having to buy in for one set amount (excluding re-buys/add-on) with the opportunity to earn a nice return should they cash or win the game. These types of games are especially great for micro stakes players that are looking to grind a bankroll since the risk of a player blowing his 'roll is significantly reduced as long as they are playing within their means.
Having said all of that, playing in a tournament or sit n go requires a different approach in strategy if one wishes to do well and become profitable. This is because in tournaments and sit n go's only so many players will make the money with the rest who bust out early receiving nothing. This makes several things such as starting hands, position, chips stacks and recognition of the current levels very important to understand and pay attention to.
To hopefully get most of you on your way to tournament and sit n go stardom we have provided some basic guidelines on how to correctly approach these games so that you can start to churn out a profit. Please keep in mind most of these guidelines will be focused on smaller tournaments and sit n go's and will only apply to games that do not offer re-buys and/or add-ons.
Strategy for Tournaments and Sit n Go's
Most early stage tournaments and SnG's will consist of the first 3 to 4 blind levels. Typically, these are the 10/20, 15/30, 25/50, and 50/100 levels. During these stages, players should primarily focus only on playing solid starting hands, playing them in position and betting for value.
For example, hands such as AA-QQ and A-K should be played in early position, AA-1010, A-K and A-Q in middle position and all the early position and middle position hands plus 99-77, A-J thru A-10 and some suited connectors can be played in late position. All of these hands should be opened with a raise with raise being about 3 to 4 times the size of the big blind plus one for every limper. Once you get to 25/50 and 50/100 you can tone the bet size down to 2 to 3 times the big blind plus one for every limper.
These hands are also if you are the first one to act, not if there has been a raise in front of you. If you are facing a raise regardless of where you are sitting, you should primarily stick to the premium hands in terms of calling or raising (AA-JJ).
Most importantly, focus on playing in position because this is where most of your money will be made. Even playing premium hands such as AA's or KK's can be difficult out of position.
Lastly, when you do have a made hand you should be primarily betting for value. Being tricky and trying to slow play opponents will only give them free cards that can potentially beat you. This doesn't mean that you need to over bet the pot, but just be sure you are getting money in while you are ahead.
As you are probably aware by now, the name of the game here is simply tight aggressive poker, aka TAG poker. This surely one of the best ways to approach sit n go's or tournaments and using this approach will surely get you to the middle stages of a sit n go or tourney unscathed in most cases.
The middle stages of a sit n go or tournament are generally when the blind levels are 75/150, 100/200 and sometimes 150/300. It really all depends on the game you are playing and the size of the field.
The correct approach to these stages will not vary much from the approach you take to the early stages. You'll still want to play tight aggressive poker, sticking to solid starting hands and being sure to bet for value when you connect with the flop. Bet sizes during these levels should be around 2 to 3 times the big blind plus one for every limper.
The biggest difference here is that the blinds are starting to get to the point where it is occasionally worthwhile to steal them. This will again depend on how big the tournament or sit n go is, but if you are starting with stacks of 1500 to 2,500 or so, then it's time to start considering a few steals. When doing so, you are going to want to be in later position such as the cut-off or the button and will want to have something decent that will still play well should your raise be called. Also, be sure to take notes on players who tend to 3-bet you if you try to steal or just happen to flat call your steals a lot. This way you can make sure you have better hands if need be when stealing.
Lastly, be sure to start focusing on your opponent's chip stacks, as plenty of your decisions will be based from this. Look to avoid the shorter stacks since they are willing to push with a wider range of hands as well as the bigger stacks since they will more than likely have you covered or close to it. The goal here is to avoid doubling anyone up with the possibility of leaving us crippled in the process.
The later stages of a sit n go or tournament will generally be when the levels are 100/200 or 150/300 and higher or when you have reached the final table. Again, this will vary slightly.
In the later stages, you are typically looking to make it into the money but most importantly, you are looking to win.
The approach here is to still play tight aggressive poker but it is going to be necessary to steal the blinds more often to be sure your stack stays afloat. If at anytime your stack withers below 9 or 10 big blinds you should be looking for a hand to push with as long as you are the first to do so or have KK's or AA's when facing an opponent who already has shoved. Do not let yourself blind out; there is no excuse for it. That doesn't mean you get into insta-shove mode and shove anything at anytime. Just be sure to pick your spots and push if you get short stacked.
It is in these stages that you will also be on the bubble. The aggression will have to be turned up here so again, you don't blind out. When you are in position with a solid hand, be sure to raise it to steal the blinds. If you are on the big blind and the small blind decides to limp in, raise him and make him or her decide if they want to actually play or not. Again, this is not to say to be overly and stupidly aggressive with trashy hands, but weak-passive play will not get you into the money and it sure won't earn you the win. Play solid and aggressive and pick your spots accordingly and you should be ok. Believe it or not, there will be times when pushing with 7-2 is correct and a time when folding A-K is correct. The most important aspect is knowing when.
Once you make it into the money, you will notice that many players sit back figuring they can do whatever they want. Do not be like this.. You want to continue to play your 'A' game and focus on playing solid hands in the best way possible. Remember, you don't want the minimum cash, you want first place. So don't just throw it away on some random draw. Play your best and get your money in while you are ahead and you are sure to do well.
Tournaments and Sit n Go's
As we have mentioned several times, these tips are really a general overview on how to approach sit n go's and tournaments. They will have to be adjusted slightly for games that are much larger and/or offer re-buys and add-ons. Aside from that, by following our tips and playing a solid and smart tight aggressive game, you are sure to find yourself in the winners circle of any online tournament or sit n go a fair amount of times.