At some point, nearly every poker player asks the same question: Can I make a living at this? It’s a tempting idea, especially after you scoop your first three-figure pot, or bag a significant prize at a tournament. Only you can decide whether you should make poker your full-time gig. If you do want to turn pro, you should consider starting out at the Sit-and-Go (SNG) tables. Playing Sit-and-Go poker online at Bovada is a great way to build a bankroll in the early stages of your career. We’ll show you what it takes to beat SNG poker as consistently as possible, and we’ll give you some helpful online poker tips that you can use to increase your chances of success.

What Is Sit-and-Go Poker?

In case you’re not familiar with this format, a Sit-and-Go is a special type of poker tournament, where the field is restricted to a certain size. Single-Table SNGs are popular, either heads-up, 6-max or full ring; you’ll also find Multi-Table SNGs at Bovada Poker, with 12 and 27 players the most common. While standard tournaments start at a pre-determined time, SNGs begin as soon as the required number of players have signed up – which is why they’re called Sit-and-Gos.

Playing Sit-and-Go Poker for a Living: How to Make It WorkWhy Play SNGs vs. Cash Games or Tournaments?

Making the choice between cash games and tournaments is one of the hardest things a would-be pro has to do. There are pros and cons to both sides; cash games are easier to fit into your schedule, and there’s less variance (and therefore, less risk of ruin) when you play cash poker for a living. But tournaments usually have softer competition, and they give you the chance of winning a very large cash prize on any given day. They also tend to be more fun, and if you’re going to turn pro, having fun will help motivate you to keep on grinding.

Sit-and-Gos give you the best from Column A and Column B. Since the field size is small, you can fit SNGs into your schedule more easily than regular tournaments – a typical full-ring SNG usually takes around 45 minutes to complete. At the same time, you still get to play against relatively weaker opposition than you’d find at the cash tables. And just like the standard tournaments at Bovada, you can play up to 15 SNGs at the same time, compared to four cash tables or two Zone Poker tables.

The ability to multi-table SNGs is crucial when you’re thinking about turning pro. Every business undertaking has a chance of failure, and no matter how good you get at poker, there will be times when the cards just aren’t falling your way. The best way to counter this variance is through volume; if you play 100 $1 SNGs instead of a single $100 tournament, your chances of making a profit and being able to pay your bills will increase.

There’s another hidden benefit to choosing Sit-and-Gos when you start out as a pro: They help you develop your overall online poker strategy. Because the SNG format combines many of the elements of cash games and tournament poker, you’ll gain valuable exposure to the situations you’ll encounter at pretty much any poker table. They’re especially valuable if you’re thinking about playing larger tournaments down the road. Many of these tournament players lack experience at final tables, but as an SNG specialist, you’ll almost always be playing at the final table, and you’ll be building the knowledge base you need to navigate those massive tournament pay jumps with confidence.

How to Become a Profitable SNG Player: Four Tips

There’s a lot more to becoming a professional poker player than just taking the game seriously. These four poker tips will put you on the right path to success, but it’s up to you to invest the time and effort that you’ll need to make a living at the SNG tables.

Start With the Right Mindset

What does it mean to be a professional poker player in the first place? For some, it means that poker is your sole source of income. For others, it means that all your poker decisions should be based solely on making money. It doesn’t have to be one way or the other; ideally, no matter what you do in life, you’ll have multiple streams of income, and you’ll take other considerations besides money into account when making decisions.

Take a moment to think about why you want to turn pro. Is it because you enjoy playing poker a lot more than your regular job? Is it because you’re good enough that you can make a lot more money at the poker tables? Fair enough, but as Doyle Brunson said, poker is a hard way to make an easy living. Prove that you’ve got what it takes by putting in a large enough sample size of SNGs – maybe 500, maybe even 1,000 or so. Keep track of your results, and take some notes about how you feel when you’re playing the games. Try this lifestyle before you dive in.

Remember the Three StagesPlaying Sit-and-Go Poker for a Living: How to Make It Work

From a strategic standpoint, the Sit-and-Go format lends itself to being divided into three parts: the early stage, the middle stage, and the late stage. Each stage presents its own challenges, based on the number of players left in the SNG and their stack sizes. The early stage of a standard SNG plays much like a cash game, since everyone starts with around 75 big blinds – enough to put in multiple raises pre-flop, and/or bet multiple streets post-flop. The more you work on this stage of the SNG, the better you’ll get at playing cash poker, and vice versa.

The middle stage of a Sit-and-Go usually puts you in tricky situations where your stack size is down around 20-40 big blinds. These are important situations to learn, and they happen all the time when you play SNGs; you won’t have the same leverage that you will during the early stage, so take the time to study these spots and learn how to play with these middling stacks. In addition to leverage, you’ll have to consider bubble dynamics. When you get close to the money bubble, the short stack should play super-aggressively and hope to chip up, while medium stacks should attack the small stacks, and the chip-leader should attack the medium stacks.

The late stage of the SNG is like the middle stage on steroids. Every pay jump is its own money bubble, and the effective stack size is getting very short now. Once you get down to 10-15bb, your only viable options are to push or fold. This is easiest to deal with when you’re heads-up; study the Nash push-fold charts you can find on the internet to build an “unexploitable” strategy, then deviate from that strategy when you identify opponents who fold too much or too little.

Playing Sit-and-Go Poker for a Living: How to Make It WorkBuild Your Multi-Table Muscle

Because volume is so important when you’re trying to build a bankroll, you’ll need to learn how to handle multi-tabling properly. This might be the most challenging part of being a professional poker player. The more tables you play, the less time you’ll have to make any one decision – this can be incredibly stressful when you’re just starting out. It might even be a deal-breaker if you’re not capable of handling that kind of volume.

Start at the beginning with one SNG table at a low buy-in. Once you’ve proved over a decent sample size that you can beat this game, add a second table – and drop down in stakes while you’re at it, if you’re not already at the $1 level. If you prove you can handle two tables (again, put in a good sample size first), try three. You can improve your chances of success by playing a simple SNG strategy and folding in marginal spots, rather than making elaborate plays that will sap your mental energy in exchange for little reward. Whatever you do, don’t push your brain too hard when you multi-table. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

One other important note for would-be pros: You’ll need to play these SNGs on your desktop, rather than on a mobile device. It’s the only viable way to put in the volume you’ll need when you’re playing at Bovada Poker. Invest in a proper workstation with a good computer, a reliable internet connection (with back-ups) and multiple displays. Never skimp on the start-up costs when you’re going into business for yourself.

Manage Your Bankroll

This is the least sexy part of being a professional poker player, but it’s arguably the most important. Poker is a business for you now, so you have to treat it like one – make sure you’re sufficiently bankrolled for this enterprise. At a bare minimum, you should never spend more than 1% of your roll on any one Sit-and-Go, but in reality, you’ll probably want at least 300 buy-ins before you jump in at your chosen stakes.

That number should climb even higher as you move up the SNG ladder. As the stakes rise and the competition level increases, your edge over the field will become smaller, and that means you should be investing less of your hard-earned money in percentage terms. You’ll also need to open up your game a bit and be willing to make those tricky, high-variance plays if you want to beat your opponents at this level. This will require even more buy-ins for you to manage your bankroll and keep your risk of ruin sufficiently low. A variance calculator will help you do the math and make sure you’re playing at the appropriate stakes with sufficient funds to back you up.

SNGs at Bovada PokerPlaying Sit-and-Go Poker for a Living: How to Make It Work

If you look at the Sit-and-Go poker tournaments schedule at Bovada, you’ll find a wide range of SNGs you can play. We’ve already talked about the different field sizes; you’ll also have your choice of game (Texas Hold’em, Omaha or Omaha Hi/Lo), betting structure (Fixed-Limit, Pot-Limit or No-Limit), longer or shorter blind levels, bigger or smaller starting stacks, and different payout structures like the Double-Up and Triple-Up SNGs, where each player who finishes in the money receives the same prize.

Of course, you also have your choice of buy-in level when you play Sit-and-Go poker at Bovada. You’ll find everything from $1+$0.10 SNGs (that’s a $1 buy-in and a 10-cent entry fee) to $200+$10 SNGs on the schedule. Note that the entry fee is smaller in relative terms when you play the higher-end SNGs. At the same time, there are fewer of these high-rollers on the schedule, and the competition level is fierce, so even if you have the bankroll to play these SNGs, make sure you still have enough of an edge on your opponents before jumping in.

There’s yet another SNG format at Bovada that you should know about: the Jackpot Sit-and-Go. These are very fast three-player SNGs where the winner gets a random prize of up to 1,000 times the original buy-in. Jackpot SNGs are a lot of fun, but they’re better suited for recreational players; the variance with the prize money is far too high to make these a regular part of your professional day.

Whichever Sit-and-Go games you choose to play, if you’re going to treat poker as a profession, don’t forget to keep working on your online poker strategy. It gets tougher and tougher to make a living at these games as more and more people learn how to play poker well. Ultimately, you can say the same about any financial market, and once you turn pro, that’s exactly how you should think about poker – it’s just a series of investment decisions. Make yours wisely, and best of luck at the SNG tables.