There are two types of online poker players: those who play cash games, and those who play tournaments. But what if you could get the best of both worlds? You can, when you play online Sit-and-Go poker tournaments at Bovada. These are short tournaments that take about as long as a typical session at the cash tables, making them easy to fit into your busy schedule. And, since you can multi-table up to 15 Sit-and-Go tournaments at once, you can put in the volume you need to grow your bankroll – if you know how to play them well.

That’s where we come in. This guide will help you make the journey from Sit-and-Go poker n00b to end boss; we’ll show you how the format works, and we’ll pay extra-close attention to which starting hands you should use in the early stages of these tournaments. Your range of starting hands is one of the easier concepts of poker to learn, but it might also be the most important.


Sit and GoWhat Are SNGs?

When you see the letters “SNG” used in poker parlance, we’re talking about Sit-and-Gos. SNG poker tournaments usually have smaller fields than standard tourneys, anywhere from two players up to 180, but there’s an even more important difference: SNGs don’t have a set starting time. They begin as soon as the required number of entrants have signed up – which is why they’re called Sit-and-Gos.


Single-Table vs. Multi-Table Tournaments

The size of the SNG in question will determine how many tables are used. The full-ring SNG with nine players at the table used to be the most popular size, and it’s still going strong today, but more and more players have gravitated towards 6-max SNGs. Heads-up SNGs have increased in popularity, too. And if you play the Jackpot Sit-and-Go format, you’ll be seated at a three-player table. All of these are examples of single-table SNGs.

If you prefer a slightly longer tournament with more money in the prize pool, you can play multi-table SNGs at Bovada Poker. Almost all the multi-table SNGs at Bovada feature 27 players, spread across three full-ring tables at the beginning, but you’ll also find the occasional 12-player tournament – that’s two 6-max tables – and other field sizes may pop up from time to time. Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo SNGs are all on the menu at Bovada; some of these tournaments will offer different betting limits, stack sizes and blind structures, and some SNGs are satellites and qualifiers, where tournament tickets are in the prize pool instead of cash.


How to Beat SNG TournamentsSit'n'Go Online Poker Tournament

If you already know the most basic elements of poker, including the rules of play and the standard poker hand rankings, you’re ready to learn about Sit-and-Go strategy. The SNG is the ideal format for beginners to get their feet wet. For as little as $1, you can buy into one of these tourneys and duke it out with your fellow players; while you do battle, you’ll have the opportunity to work with concepts that apply to larger tournaments as well as cash games. It’s the ultimate training ground for new poker players.

The most efficient way to tackle these SNGs is to divide them into stages. The standard procedure uses three stages: early, middle, and late. If you’re playing a full-ring SNG, you can mark these stages by the number of players still in the tournament, with the middle stage starting at six players and the late stage once you’re down to the final three – which is also after the money bubble has burst. For a 6-max SNG, the middle stage begins with four players, and the late stage when you’re heads-up and in the money.

Each of these Sit-and-Go stages requires a different poker strategy. When you’re in the early stage, the tournament plays much like a cash game, with deeper starting stacks (75 big blinds is common) and a relatively full table. Once you get into the middle stage, the stacks will grow shorter relative to the blinds, and the antes will kick in, too, so you’ll need to learn how to play short-stack poker. As a general rule, once you get down to 10-15bb, your only choice left is whether to go all-in or fold pre-flop.

You’ll also need to learn how to deal with the money bubble. As you get closer to the late stage, you’ll have to change tactics depending on how many chips you and your opponents have left. If you’re the shortest stack at this point, you’ll need to be aggressive and hope for the best; medium stacks will want to play very cautiously, waiting for the short stack to bust out first, and the big stack will have the opportunity to attack those medium stacks, knowing they’ll fold more often than normal.

The more SNGs you play, the more you’ll get used to all the different stages and their dynamics. But the most important stage of any tournament is the early stage, and the most important decisions you’ll make are at the beginning of the hand, when you get your hole cards. Should you put money in the pot, or should you fold?


Early Stage Starting Hand TipsEarly Stage Starting Hand Tips

The answer depends on the strength of your hole cards, but it also depends on where you’re sitting at the table. If you’re under the gun at a full-ring table, there are eight other players waiting to see what you’re going to do before they act, and six of those players (everyone except the small blind and the big blind) have position on you. That means you’d better have a really good starting hand before jumping in.

Moving clockwise around the table, as you get closer to the button, you can profitably open a wider range of starting hands, since there are fewer players to get through. The button is the best seat at the table; you have position on all other players, so you can open the widest range. You can also 3-bet and call more often when someone else enters the pot before you.

Life in the small blind is trickier. There’s only one player left to get through if the action folds around to you; however, the big blind will have position on you post-flop, and position is incredibly important in poker, so you’ll generally want to open less often from the small blind than you would on the button. As a rule of thumb, you should also avoid calling in the small blind when someone else opens. Stick with 3-betting or folding until you get some more experience under your belt.

One more rule of thumb for beginning SNG players: Never open-limp into a pot. When you open-raise, you give yourself the opportunity to win the pot uncontested when everyone else folds pre-flop. Limping allows the big blind to see the flop for free – unless someone else raises first, which complicates matters further. Try to keep your decision tree as small as possible when you’re just starting out.

To help you prune that tree, let’s once again divide your early-stage starting hand ranges into three categories: Early Position (EP), Middle Position (MP), and Late Position (LP). Here are some recommended SNG starting ranges for each category at the table. Texas Hold’em is the name of the game; in this case, we’re including the small blind as Late Position, but we’re also recommending tighter ranges overall, which will simplify things and help keep you away from marginal situations that require difficult decisions on your part.

SNG Open-Raise Ranges

EP: TT+, AQ+

MP: 88+, AJ+

LP: 55+, AT+, KQ

SNG 3-Bet Ranges

EP: QQ+, AKs



Call on Button: 22+, AQ, A2s+, JTs+

The starting hands for button calls are hands that flop well: pocket pairs (which can become sets), suited Aces (which can become nut flushes), and suited connectors (which can become flushes or straights). Ace-Queen is also included, since you’ll often make top pair with a better kicker than opponents who open with Ace-Jack or worse.

But what if you’re in the big blind and someone has opened? For now, you can use the same ranges listed above; for example, if someone opens from early position, call with the hands listed as EP open-raises, and raise with the hands that are listed as EP 3-bets. Also, call with the same hands that the button would call an open-raise with. In reality, you should be defending your big blind more aggressively, but this is a very good place to start.

Poker SNG Tournaments Schedule

To view all the different Sit-and-Gos you can play at Bovada Poker, make sure to download the poker client if you haven’t already; if you’re playing on a mobile device, all you have to do is log in to our industry-leading web app, where you now have access to featured SNGs as well as our Jackpot SNGs format.

If you’re on a desktop using the Bovada Poker client, enter the lobby and select “Sit & Go Tournaments” from the menu at the top-left of the screen. You’ll see a list of all the SNGs that are registering, sortable by game type, betting limit, buy-in, and number of players enrolled. A separate “Jackpot Sit & Go” list is also available at the top-left of your display.

As a beginner, we recommend starting with a Play Money SNG to help you get your bearings; you’ll find these SNGs by scrolling down to the bottom of the list. Try out some of the concepts you’ve learned here, especially the starting hand ranges during the early stage, then jump in and play some Real Money SNGs when you’re ready. We think you’ll agree that Sit-and-Gos give you the most bang for your poker buck.