How to Crush Sit-N-Gos and Build a Bankroll

by , Jul 25, 2012 | 4:09 am

Sit-N-Go tournaments always have a set number of players who may join and as soon as the tournament is fully subscribed, play begins. These tournaments are mostly single table, but some large ones can feature up to 20 tables.

The beauty of Sit-N-Go tournaments is that they’re always available and they’re always open to join. Unlike MTTs, where when you bust you have to wait around for the next to start, Sit-N-Go’s generally start constantly. This means you can play a ton of them at once and re-register to a new one every time you bust out. Forums are filled with players exchanging strategies for these types of tournaments.

But how do you play them?

That is exactly what we’re going to cover in this crash course.

The goal when playing Sit-N-Gos isn’t to squeak into the money, it’s to win it. Obviously, it isn’t possible every single time, but it should be the overriding factor whenever you make a decision. Most of the money is up top, so you should play accordingly. You’re going to get seconds, thirds, and bust outs; they’re un-avoidable, but your goal is always to win.

Sit-N-Go play is broken up into three stages.

Stage One: Low Blind Play

When the Sit-N-Go starts you should be playing conservatively. That doesn’t mean limp in and fold if you miss. It means you should be playing tight, almost ABC poker. Remember when you first learned to play poker, you learned to play a tight and aggressive style? Wait for big hands and play them strongly. When you miss, continuation bet as normal and play your normal game.

There will be a time to open up and be that super sexy lag you see on TV, but it isn’t when the blinds are low. Save that for the antes and for when it’s shorthanded and people are looking towards that min-cash.

Stage Two: Mid Blind Play

Now is when you want to start opening your game up more. The blinds are going up and each successful blind steal makes up a larger percentage of your total stack. Sit-N-Gos aren’t about winning big pots. It’ll happen on its own. But just as often you’ll be on the other side, and if you sit around waiting for a set you’re going be sitting on 5bbs before you know it.

Sit-N-Go play is about chipping up without a showdown. You want to steal the blinds and pick up the pot un-contested with continuation bets. You want to be the silent assassin just chipping up in the shadows.

Watch your opponents. By this stage in the game you should already have a decent idea how everybody plays. Identify the tight players and the loose players; identify who defends their blinds, when they defend, and how they play the flop. Are they likely to peel one street with weak hands? Or do they just fold when they miss? All of this is information that you must use. You should also experiment on different sites, and find one that meets your needs, such as whether or not they accept US players.

As the Sit-N-Go moves on, this information becomes even more valuable. Your targets should be the players that don’t fight for pots, the players that don’t defend their blinds, as well as those which fold to a ton of c-bets.

Getting good hands is tough and impossible to rely on. You need to supplement that with stealing the blinds to keep afloat.

Getting more aggressive doesn’t mean raising any two from any position. You have to be smart. You should still be playing tight from early position. The money is made in late middle position and late position.

When it’s folded to you in the cut-off or on the button you should be opening liberally looking to build your stack without confrontation.

Stage Three: High Blind Play

This is the fun part. By this time blinds are so big the average stack is probably 10bb or fewer. This is the time to really open it up. By now you should have a very good idea how your opponents play. If you have less than 10bbs you have two plays: fold or raise all-in. Adjust your ranges according to how the blinds play.

Pay attention to the money bubble. Players will tighten up and you can really build your stack by stealing. In late position you should be moving in frequently, especially with less than 10bbs.

For example, if it’s folded to you on the button and you have 8bb you should be moving in with a range of AA-22, Any ace, any suited king, Suited queen down to Q9s, KQ-K9, QJ-Q9, and any suited connector above 56s.

Your goal here is to have your opponents fold. You don’t want a call unless you have a big hand. You want the blinds, and you want to move on to fight another day. You don’t want to shove complete trash unless the blinds are extremely tight.

Calling vs Raising

Though you’re opening an extremely wide range, you want to be calling other players’ all-ins with a much, much tighter range. Remember, the goal is to pick up pots without confrontation. Though 44 might be ahead of their range, you probably don’t want to call an all-in with it. If you’re ahead, you’re basically begging for a coin flip. It’s often better to just fold, especially if you’ve been getting away with a lot of blind stealing. Fold and take the opportunity to be the aggressor – it’s much more valuable.


Sit-N-Gos are a variance filled game, and it’s impossible to avoid this aspect. The blinds go up, and they go up fast. This forces action and it forces you to get aggressive to stay afloat. The goal is to win and you need to accumulate chips to do that. Playing aggressively is going to cause your short term variance, but it will ultimately increase your long term profitability too. Remember that when you shove Q9 from the button and are called by aces. It’s going to happen and you might feel like an idiot, but you shouldn’t. It was a profitable play and you were just unlucky that your opponent woke up with aces. Stick to your game plan and you’ll crush.

That’s the crash course. Literally whole books are written on Sit-N-Go play. It’s difficult to discuss ranges in a short article, but it should give you a good idea. If you already play cash poker and are looking to branch out into Sit-N-Gos, you should find this a good starting point. Study the game, and always study your opponents. The more you know about them, the more accurate you can play your game. If you stay aggressive as the blinds get high, you’ll already have a step up on your competition and, over time, you’ll have no troubles building a bankroll.

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