Switching to SNG’s

Most people have seen final table tournament action on television and wished that they were part of the fun. Well SNG’s or STT’s as they are also known (single table SNG) catapult you straight into a one table knockout situation. The term SNG means “Sit and Go” and this is precisely what you do. It is a simple case of adding your name to a waiting list and when the table fills up then away you go. SNG’s can actually be played over several tables but by far the most common and the most popular is the single table variety or STT which stands for “Single Table Tournament”. Here we will look at the difference between an SNG and a cash game as well as the basic strategy to play them well.

Cash games and SNG’s

What you need to remember is that an SNG is essentially a poker tournament just like any other. This means that just like with any other poker tournament, players are eliminated and the blinds escalate and any additional antes as well until there is a final winner at the end. Also there is a pay-out structure with the majority of the prize pool going to the winner followed by the player in second and then third place.

Any poker tournament is a risky venture but that is what makes them so ultimately rewarding and exciting. For a very small outlay a player can experience the thrill of final table tournament action merely by turning on their computer and logging on to the site.

Full ring and six max variations

The two main forms of SNG when played on a single table are full ring (nine and ten man) SNG’s and six max SNG’s which means that only six players are active. Both of these games are very popular with the public and while each seems totally different on the surface based on the different number of players that are active in each, the strategy to beat them on a basic level is pretty much the same.

Basic strategy

During the early stages then you really should be playing tight and solid poker. Your stack size compared to the size of the blinds dictates that risk taking is simply not the best policy to undertake. There is one very powerful strategic reason to play tightly during the early stages and it has actually nothing whatsoever to do with this stage of the tournament and more to do with how your play in the middle and later stages.

As you reach the middle stages of the tournament then several players will have been eliminated. All remaining players will also be closer to the money as well. Because of this we then have a situation where players are less likely to take risks. This means that you are more likely to find your opponents folding rather than raising like before. If they raise to steal the blinds then they are far more likely to fold to a steal at this stage of the tournament than any other.

Middle stage play

This takes us on to middle stage play where hopefully your tight early stage play will start to show dividends. Because you have played so tightly then your stack will be far bigger at this crucial stage of the tournament. The bigger your stack then the more threat that you will be to other players! One thing is clear though and this is that you cannot win an SNG or even place in the money for that matter without assuming some sort of risk. The primary skill in SNG’s is in being able to balance the need for survival with the need to accumulate chips in order to survive.

You cannot avoid taking risks in SNG’s but the best players take the risks at the right times when they are needed. Middle stage play is all about changing gears and making sure that your stack does not dwindle down to a stage where your raises are meaningless and will be called. You will be stealing more blinds in this stage of play and also re-stealing from blind stealers.

Late stage play

The latter stages of SNG’s are based on what is known as “bubble play”. This is the stage of the tournament where only one more player needs to be eliminated for you to be in the prize money. This stage of play tends to evolve into a war of who can push their chips in the most and steal the most chips while not being afraid of losing them. Timid players fare poorly during this stage of play but the key fact to remember is that you need a far stronger hand to call an all-in than you do to make an all-in move. This is simply due to how many times your opponents fold meaning that any two cards can win.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson can also be seen on his poker blog at http://pokerworld.pacificpoker.com/pokerblogs

One Comment to “Switching to SNG’s”

  1. John says:

    I love SnG for their speed and it does help your play on practicing final table appearances. These are also offered at most casinos during big tournament events. Pay $75 (example) and win it to get $650 in tournament chips. As you see, rack is higher than a normal tournament “fee” but getting a few players to do a separate “Who lasts longer” $20 buy in helps cover that loss in rake or a 2nd or 3rd place finish at least gets your money back or an extra $20 if lucky.

Leave a Comment