Poker School

Sit and go strategy: 15 tips to succeed in sit n go tournaments

New to Sit & Go tournaments? Our 15-step guide shows you how it’s done.

1. Sit tight at the start

Play tight (stick to good hands) during the early stages, when the blinds are small. Small pots aren’t worth the effort and you want people to take notice when you start betting aggressively later. Play big hands strongly and fold everything else.

2. Watch for hands with potential

Some hands could surprise you. Suited connectors , small pairs and aces with a suited kicker (a tie-breaker card of the same suit) could turn into a major hand, so be prepared to play them. But if someone raises, or the flop doesn’t bring anything useful, you’ll need to fold.

3. Bet big on big pairs

Big pairs (aces, king and queens) are your friend. If a few players have limped in (called the big blind) ahead of you, you should raise enough to double the amount in the pot. Either people will fold and you’ll pick up the money, or they’ll make a mistake and try to raise you with a weaker hand. If you’ve got kings and they’ve got aces, that’s bad luck, but statistically the odds are small enough to risk it.

4. Seize the moment

If the flop brings you a big hand, act on it. A lot of players will call you with a top pair, even if their kicker isn’t up to much. So if you find yourself with two pair and a high kicker, don’t wait to make your move.

If you check, and someone else bets, then raise big or move all-in. They’ll fold and give you a nice pot or, more typically, call, even though they’ve only got a one in three chance of winning.

5. Hang in there

If you’re short stacked , don’t panic – you can come back from the brink. Just be patient and wait for something really good to come along. Make it as hard as you can for people to walk away with your chips.

6. Scare off the weak bettors

You'll see it time and time again – players paying the minimum before the flop and trying to steal the pot with a small bet. If you’ve got a hand, raise. If you have a drawing hand (halfway to something big) or something so-so then call. Usually they haven’t got anything, so you’ll come out on top.

7. Match speed with confidence

Turbo Sit & Go tournaments are great fun, but instead of playing patiently, you need to move fast. Overpairs, top pair/top kicker and even flush draws (when you're a big stack) are a chance to jam the pot (bet aggressively or go all-in).

8. Put the pressure on

Continuation betting is essential in Sit & Go tournaments and will win the pot a lot of the time. If someone re-raises and your hand can’t take it, then you can fold. But generally, a post-flop bet of around half to two-thirds of the pot is a profitable move.

9. Know when to back down

In a Sit & Go, you can sometimes play hands you wouldn’t touch in large tournaments. But if someone raises and you’ve only got a top pair with a bad kicker, it's time to take cover.

10. Pick on someone smaller

If you’ve got a large stack, then put pressure on the short-stacked players. Raise their blinds, move them all-in (if you don’t mind being called) and they’ll make a mistake sooner or later.

11. Watch the stacks

Chip stacks can go up and down quite dramatically, especially as the blinds increase. It’s important to keep an eye on that, as you’ll want to avoid head-to-heads with the chip leaders and hone in on the small-stacked players. Don’t give up if you’re in last place. As the short-stack you can use an all-in push to scare opponents when you can. You'll either pick up lots of blinds or potentially double-up and head back towards the top of the field.

12. Don’t fade away

If you're really short-stacked (with seven or fewer big blinds left) now’s the time to step up and to make the most of any opportunity. K-8 suited, J-10, 6-7 suited, small pocket pairs – these types of hands could be your lifeline and you should bet with confidence. If you pick up the blinds, great. If you get one caller, you’ve got about a two in one chance of succeeding, which is better than letting yourself get chipped away by the blinds until there’s nothing left.

13. Burst the bubble

On the bubble, you’ll want to take control as people often get cautious when there’s a prize at stake. If you’re a big stack, move all-in when you can to pick up blinds and possibly knock someone out. If you're a short-stack, put your chips on the first big hand you get so you can double-up, or move all-in on the button with any two cards if no-one’s raised yet.

14. Get aggressive

When short-handed (down to three or four players) it's time to get in and raise pretty much whenever you can (as the blinds get bigger, you can’t wait for a rock-solid hand). Don’t do anything stupid, but raises and re-raises in the right position, followed by aggressive play after the flop (when you've made a hand) are the way to get through to the final.

15. Finish them off

When it's down to two, you need to crank things up again, raising until your rival has nowhere left to run. Most of the time they won’t have a hand, and if your stack’s big enough, then that could be all you need. If you’re the one being chased, a big re-raise should stop them in their tracks (the pot odds at this point might tell you that it’s right to call anyway). Against one player, a top pair could be all you need, so go ahead and take the glory.