Poker School

Sit and go poker: how to play sit & go

Sit & Go tournaments are ideal for new players. They don’t cost much to enter and last less than an hour. But you’ll start to get a feel for shifting hand values, the importance of chip stack sizes, position and aggression.

It’s easy to get started too. All you have to do is take your place at a table and as soon as enough players arrive (usually five or more), it’s game on.

Even if you’re a beginner, you’ve got a good chance of winning, as there are plenty of chancers out there trying their luck (who haven’t read our Sit & Go tips ). Keep cool, stick to the basics and you’ve already got a head start.

Five reasons to play Sit & Go tournaments

Take your seat and get going with these quick and easy tournaments.

  • Play on demand. The tournament starts when the table is full, so there’s no waiting around
  • There’s a game to match your budget with buy-ins starting at just $1.10
  • Be done within the hour when you’re playing just 6 or 10 players
  • Choose your game from lots of different types
  • Improve with multi-table Sit & Go tournaments against up to 50 players

Sit & Go strategy

At the start

All tournaments have a beginning, middle and an end. However, in a Sit & Go the middle period is shorter than in a big tournament – so even if you get off to a bad start you still have a good chance of scraping into second or third place.

Tighter than normal play is recommended in the early stages. Fold most hands and wait until a few players have been eliminated before getting involved.

In a Sit & Go, it's important to preserve a decent portion of your starting chips (at least two-thirds) for the middle stage of the game when four or five players remain and the blinds are high enough to be worth stealing by pushing all-in.

Once you arrive into the middle stages of the Sit & Go, a lot of what happens next depends whether you're playing a regular or a turbo Sit & Go.

  • Regular. It's common for the final four players to jostle for a long time until either one player makes a fatal mistake or two big hands collide. Wait for good opportunities to get involved
  • Turbo. The blinds quickly become astronomical and people will be forced to go all-in and call with far less. Here, it may simply come down to a matter of counting how many hands you can survive until the blinds eat you up and look for the best hand to push all-in with

In the middle

Okay, you’ve arrived in the middle stages with an average stack for the last four or five players.

The first thing to do in this situation is to look around you and see what the other players have in front of them. When there are different-sized stacks, if there's only one short stack between you and the bubble , you should try to stay out of harm's way as much as possible (unless a great hand comes along). However, if the stacks are pretty evenly matched, you need to carefully look for ways to maintain your chips or get ahead without risking a disaster, as any all-in benefits the by-standing players so much.

You shouldn't risk a lot more chips with a marginal hand if another player shows commitment, but remember this is a chance to effectively win the game there and then by getting a mile in front. Even if you do lose an all-in, you have probably paid for it with all the small pots you've stolen. What's more, the other players will know you're gunning for them and won't pass easily next time.

The last three

When you get to the last three, the blinds will probably be quite high and, after the tension of the squeeze-out stage, the players will loosen up considerably. If you were the big stack, remember your bullying privileges have just been revoked to a large extent. If, however, you were the short or medium ones, this is the time to gamble it up.

Assuming the traditional 50/30/20 payout structure, the smallest change in pay by position is from third to second, so it's well worth taking on the bigger stacks at the first decent opportunity in the hope of being in contention for first position.

If you have fewer than 10 big blinds and find a decent hand, you might as well go all-in (unless it's a real monster and you want action), as you have nothing to lose. Similarly, if you're the big stack with any kind of a hand, you might as well force the short stack to commit. Because of this situation and the pace of a three-handed game, you will probably reach 1 on 1 play quite soon after making the money.