Your Texas Holdem poker tournament bread and butter can be single table (Sit-and-Go) events

Give us this day our daily bread, and deliver us from those nasty, flat, blunt knifey things...

I love one-table Texas Holdem poker tournaments (otherwise known as Sit-and-Gos or SNGs).

They allow a disciplined player to have a shot at decent cash with limited downside.

Because of this, they attract plenty of gamblers and casual players. People who know very little about Texas Holdem poker tournaments think that SNGs are an easy way to make money.

I don’t agree that SNGs are easy money. But a good, sound strategy for SNG poker tournaments can result in 50% or higher success rate (if you define success as getting into the money). And their tendency to attract these fast-buck seekers makes them great value for a solid player.

There are two basic cash SNG types. Five- or six-seaters and nine- or ten-seaters. Generally, the smaller games pay out money to first and second, while the bigger ones pay the first three places.

Starting chips could be as low as 1,000 points or as high as 2,000, depending on where you play. Sometimes, SNG poker tournaments with higher cash buy-ins give you more starting points.

A typical breakdown for a ten-seater $30 SNG Texas Holdem poker tournament: buy-in is $30 + $3 = $33, giving a prize pool of $300. Prizes are structured at $150 for first place, $90 for second and $60 for third.

Scraping into third place is worth a mere $27 profit. First and second are obviously much better outcomes.

Your first task is to sort the wheat from the chaff. The first thing you’ll notice about the play at SNGs is that there’s a wild variance between styles.

One type of SNG poker tournament player (the winning type!) sits quietly and patiently, waiting for a good chance to double up their chips. They will only bet or raise when they think they have the best of it, and if they’re all-in, you’ll usually see them showing down a top hand.

The other main type is the person who thought SNGs were a way to make a quick buck. These guys typically bluff too often, overbet and overraise, and show in a dozen ways that they are way too impatient.

Sometimes, even the Texas Holdem poker tournament chat boxes can reveal this information. If another player is slow to respond, typically an impatient player will type “ZzzzzZZzzz” or similar. File that information away on their notepad. This player will be unlikely to feature when the money’s dished out.

Any sign of impatience is a weakness in poker tournaments, but these are magnified in the microcosm of a SNG situation.

Remember that early pots have virtually no blinds to steal. Keep your hands in your pockets until the action hots up.

I have seldom seen an online SNG, even as expensive as $50 + $5, where nobody was eliminated at level one. Here, the blinds are only 5-10 out of a starting stack of 1,000 points. There’s almost no situation, barring AA vs KK or QQ, or a monster flop catching many players’ hands, which should result in an all-in at this level.

Very basic Texas Holdem poker tournament rules apply, even in SNGs: you want to survive until the prizes are awarded.

Next time, I’ll discuss more advanced strategies for SNGs.


Texas Holdem poker tournaments are all about technique.
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