An Introduction to SNGs
Sit and gos have long been one of the most popular forms of the game. Online poker is what allowed them to reach a new level. In brick and mortar casinos, starting a sit and go meant waiting around for enough people to be ready to play. This would invariably cause sizable waits between registration time and when an event would actually start. Needless to say, this inconvenience made sit and gos quite difficult to run on a steady basis.
There are many different types of sit and gos that players can participate in. The primary forms of the game include the standardfull ring and 6-max variations. As is the case with cash games, heads up games are also made available at just about every poker site. The strategy that's involved will vary greatly from game to game.
Likewise, the ability to profit will become exceedingly difficult as you move up in limits. Some of the most well-known names of the initial poker boom were products of the sit and go world, so it should come as no surprise that poker enthusiasts from around the world quickly switched over to this arena. Of course, as the fields grew tougher and tougher, the easy money in sngs eventually dwindled down. With that said, there's still money to be made playing sit and gos if you know what you are doing.
Full Ring vs. 6-Max vs. Heads Up
There are three different primary formations in which sit and gos will almost always be formatted, and they are full ring, 6-max, and heads up. The full ring games will take substantially longer than the other two set ups, which is one of the reasons why 6-max play has gained such a following. The single slowest form of sit and go poker would be a full ring, normal speed table. This discounts deep stack and multi-table events, using the normal formats as reference.
The payout tables are one of the most obvious differences between these three different sit and go variations. Full ring games will usually pay the top three finishers, 6-max games will pay the top two, and heads up only pays the winner. The breakdown will vary from site to site, but usually the third place finisher in a full ring game will get a bit over their initial buy in back. The second place finisher will make over two times their buy in, and the winner will be rewarded with the remaining prize pool. Again, the exact payout structure is subject to the particular site that you are playing on. There are even some rooms that will allow players to chop their payouts in sit and gos, but this is typically reserved for multi-table tournament play.
The skill level is usually going to be the second thing that players notice about these different types of sit and gos. The less players that are involved, the tougher the game will tend to be. Heads up sit and gos have long been home to some of the stiffest competition in all of online poker. The players in these games seldom have extended losing streaks and are truly talented and quite skilled at what they do. If you are playing recreationally more than anything else, full ring or even 6-max games would be your best bet. Plus, you can always work your way towards the heads up tables as you gain experience.
Ultra Turbo vs. Turbo vs. Normal
The speed of the sit n go that you are playing will determine how long any given event is likely to last. A normal speed full ring sit and go could easily take an hour or more, whereas ultra turbo events could be done in 15 minutes or even less. As you may have realized, the faster paced games are going to involve less poker "instinctual" skill and more mathematical skills. The reason for this is that the quick pace of the events will force players to make decisions that often times come down to either folding or shoving.
When you are playing poker this way, it should be understood that you are going to have a lot of variance. If your primary intent is to have the most fun possible while getting the most bang for your buck, anything but turbo sit and gos will be in your best interest. Not only are you likely to become frustrated when you bust in just a few minutes, but you won't truly get to play the game to the point where you really need to think.
The only trouble with placing an emphasis on regular speed sit and gos is that you aren't going to have a whole lot of games to choose from. For the most part, online poker has gone the way of faster paced everything. Be it cash games with less time to act or sit and gos, you just aren't going to be playing for hours on end without a lot of action. Turbo sit and gos have essentially replaced normal speed sit and gos over the past few years. It's worth noting, however, that turbo tournaments don't necessarily go extremely fast. In fact, there are plenty of turbo events that could last a half hour or even longer.
The real speed comes into play once you are in ultra turbo and other variations of turbo play. These types of tournaments can easily be finished in 15 minutes or less. There are even sngs that are run at hyper turbo. These games can run from start to finish in 5 minutes or less. To make these events even faster, they are often played with short stacks. The very fast sit and go tournaments are most ideal for the player who likes to experience frequent "rushes." They will undoubtedly cure an itch for gambling much more effectively than just about any other form of poker. Of course, you are also going to be annoyed by the fact that you are forced to go all in seemingly just as the sng began.
In the end, sit and gos offer many different options to players. You can play in games with a lot of players or just one opponent, you can play for an hour or ten minutes. Part of the beauty in this form of the game is the amount of choices that you'll have. If nothing else, sit and go poker is a great way to learn skills of the game that will carry over well into cash games and especially tournaments. Remember that sit and go poker is arguably the most common way for poker players to be introduced to the game, and that many of today's best players were once total amateurs playing sit and gos for five bucks.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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