At some point, every poker player faces a choice: cash tables or tournaments? You’ll be playing poker whichever format you choose, but there are important differences between the two – they might even determine whether you win or lose. Generally speaking, cash poker is better suited for “Type A” personalities, while tournaments cater more towards the laid-back, “Type B” player. Choosing the right game for you is half the battle.

Good thing there’s Sit-and-Go poker. This format is the happy medium between cash games and tournaments; if you’re just starting out at Bovada, or you can’t seem to decide which games to play, Sit-and-Go might be your best option. We’ll explain what this format is all about, and we’ll show you how to win Sit-and-Go poker games by adding six very important ingredients to your online poker strategy.


What Is Sit-and-Go Poker?

The Sit-and-Go (SNG) is a small tournament with a pre-determined field size, and the tournament begins as soon as the required number of people have signed up. You’ll find SNGs with up to 180 players in them, but the most common field sizes at Bovada are two, six, nine, 12, and 27. As with regular tournaments, the players pay their buy-ins, along with their entry fees; the buy-ins are pooled together and awarded to the longest-lasting survivors, with the biggest prize going to the winner.

Instead of cash prizes, some Sit-and-Gos offer tickets for entering larger tournaments. These satellites or qualifiers end as soon as everyone is in the money (ITM); for example, if there are 25 tickets in the prize pool, the SNG is over once there are 25 players remaining. You’ll also find the special Jackpot Sit-and-Go format at Bovada, where three players battle over a random cash prize of up to 1,000 times your original buy-in.


Sit and Go Tournaments TipsSingle-Table vs. Multi-Table SNGs

Most of the Sit-and-Gos at Bovada are 1-table affairs, either heads-up, 6-max, or full-ring (along with the Jackpot SNGs). With the heads-up SNGs, the winner will get all the prize money, while two players will finish ITM at a 6-max SNG, and three players at a full-ring SNG. Larger field sizes naturally require more tables to play. The 12-player SNGs feature two 6-max tables, and the 27-player SNGs are divided among three full-ring tables.

As you may have already figured out, the more players there are in a Sit-and-Go, the longer it will take to finish. As a rule of thumb, you can expect a full-ring SNG to take about 45-60 minutes to complete. It depends on the blind structure; Turbos and Hyper-Turbos will end more quickly, since their blind levels are shorter. SNGs with smaller starting stacks of 500 chips (that’s 25 big blinds at 10/20 on Level 1) will also wrap up sooner than a standard game.


Why Are SNGs Popular?

When you play a regular multi-table tournament (MTT) at Bovada, you have to make sure you have room in your schedule – it can take several hours to make a deep run. With the Sit-and-Go format, you don’t have to devote nearly as much time to any one tourney. This makes them easier to fit into your day than MTTs, and since you can play up to 15 SNGs at once, you can put in more volume than you can at the cash games, where four tables is the maximum. Volume is key to building a poker bankroll; many of today’s top online players cut their teeth playing SNGs at Bovada.

Before you put in that volume, you need to learn how to play poker well enough to gain an edge on your opponents. This is another reason why SNGs are so good for new players; you’ll learn most of the things you need to succeed later on at both the cash tables and the larger tournaments. You’ll get to work with different stack sizes, and you’ll figure out how to navigate final tables as profitably as possible – all for as little as a $1 buy-in, which will also cap your losses while you’re learning the ropes.


Winning SNG Tournament Strategy Tips

Now it’s time to unveil our six poker strategy tips for winning at the Sit-and-Go tables. Each of these tips is a practical step you can take to improve your SNG game; we’ll also explain the concept behind each tip, so you’ll understand why you’re doing these things in the first place. That will help you execute your game plan more efficiently and build solid poker skills more quickly.


Sit and Go Poker Tournament Tips1. Divide Your SNG Into Three Stages

Stack sizes (relative to the size of the big blind) are one of the most important things you need to consider when you’re playing a Sit-and-Go. You can do a lot more with your chips when you have 75 big blinds compared to 40, or 40bb compared to 15. Since the blinds get bigger every few minutes, your stack size will tend to get smaller in relative terms, even as you accumulate chips. That’s why we recommend you divide your SNG strategy into three categories: early stage, middle stage, and late stage, each with its own approach.


2. Play Tight During the Early Stage

Unless you’re playing one of those 500-chip events, you’ll be starting out with around 75bb when you play SNGs at Bovada Poker. This gives you enough room to play a “cash poker” style during the early stage. In a Texas Hold’em SNG, speculative hands like small pocket pairs, suited connectors and suited Aces can be played pre-flop, hoping to make a big hand and score enough chips to make it worth the risk. You’ll also have enough stack depth to run multi-street bluffs post-flop, hoping to induce folds when your draw doesn’t complete.

Having said that, it’s important not to go overboard with aggression during this early stage. A Sit-and-Go is still a tournament, and tournaments reward survival more than chip accumulation. In most situations (but not all), the chips you lose in a tourney are worth more than the chips you gain. Stick with premium hands and the most promising speculative hands during this phase; let other people go crazy and bust out first. This goes double when you’re just starting out with poker. Once you’ve figured out how to play premium hands well, you can spread your wings and get used to playing a wider range.


3. Increase Aggression During the Middle Stage

As a guideline, the middle stage of a Sit-and-Go starts once you’re down to four players at a 6-max SNG, or six players at a full-ring SNG. Your stack should be getting closer to 30-40bb by the time you reach this stage. Having at least 40bb is valuable because it gives you nearly a full arsenal of moves at the table; you can open pre-flop and bet two or maybe even three streets post-flop. Having that leverage on your opponents is so useful, you should fight aggressively to stay over 40bb as long as possible during the middle stage, so open a wider range of “value” hands, and forget about the speculative hands. There isn’t enough stack depth anymore to make them worthwhile.


Sit and Go Poker Tournament Tips4. Target the Right Opponents at the Bubble and During the Late Stage

The money bubble at an SNG is so important, it almost deserves its own category. But once you’re ITM, each successive pay jump is like its own little bubble, so the same general strategy applies. If you’re on the bubble with the shortest stack at the table, don’t be shy: Get those chips in the middle while you can, preferably as the first player in the pot, so you can steal the blinds and antes. If you have a middling stack, attack the short stack and avoid the chip-leader. And if the chip-leader is you, focus on punishing the middling stacks while keeping the shorties in the game. This is a great situation to be in, since those medium stacks will be folding more often than usual and hoping the bubble bursts. Take advantage while you can.


5. Aim for the Money First, then Win

Typical MTTs have a more top-heavy payout structure than SNGs. There’s some merit to playing more aggressively at an MTT and grabbing one of those big prizes, but at the SNG tables, it’s more valuable to ensure you get in the money first, then continue working your way up the ladder, step by step. There’s no shame in min-cashing a Sit-and-Go.


6. Learn and Practice Push/Fold Ranges

Once you’re down to around 10-15bb, your leverage is pretty much gone – all that’s left to do is either go all-in or fold. Fortunately, these scenarios are relatively simple to play correctly, especially once you’re heads-up. Look online for reliable push/fold SNG ranges that you can use to boss the late stage; if you’re a more advanced player, download poker software and analyze these situations to make even more accurate push/fold ranges.


With these six weapons at your disposal, you’ll be prepared to tackle the Sit-and-Go tables at Bovada with confidence. Combine them with sound bankroll management and game selection, and you’ll be well on your way to SNG end boss status – but don’t be in a hurry to get there. Learn at your own pace, play as often as you feel like it (within the boundaries of your schedule, as always) and let the game come to you. Most importantly, have fun.