Playing in Sit and Go Poker Tournaments
Sit and go tournaments or single table tournaments are an increasingly popular playing format, especially in online poker rooms. They offer a fast-paced and fun way of playing, and the experience of the final table for many poker enthusiasts. You can sign up for such a tournament any time, as many poker rooms offer them around the clock, and you don't have to wait for the action to start: as soon as the table is full, the game begins. Since they are so popular, they accommodate players at a variety of levels and with many different styles. This form of online gambling is very enjoyable and it can even be profitable but you need to adjust your strategy in order to become a consistent winner.
There are nine or ten players in a sit and go game, out of which the top three receive the prize money, with 20% for third, 30% for second and 50% for first place. There are a variety of buy-in levels, the lowest of which is usually $5, with an entry fee of a dollar or 50 cents. The casino games with a low buy-in are extremely popular since they don't involve much risk, and you can encounter many players who are easy to beat. At the higher buy-ins, the skill levels of the players tend to be better, so this is an important consideration when you choose a game. If you are just starting out, you should stick to the $5 or $10 tournaments until you get used to playing sit and gos and you manage to adapt your strategy to them. These tournaments usually last an hour and the blinds go up in a certain interval of time or after a number of hands played, depending on the poker room.
Even if they are short and fast-paced, sit and go tournaments require patience, especially in the early stages. It is a mistake to try doubling up from the start, as the blinds are low and there will be many callers. At the beginning, a tight and conservative game is the best option. You should only play the best hands, and let the weaker players knock one another out. The main goal in every tournament is to finish in the money, so you want to avoid any rash moves that will prevent you getting there. You should also avoid bluffing and develop instead a tight image. This will be very useful later on when the blinds get bigger and you need to steal them in order to survive. Use the time when you are not playing to observe your opponents. You want to have as much information as possible later in the game, when the stakes are higher and you have to asses the strength of their hand.
If you have never played in tournaments before, you will have to adjust your approach considerably. Adaptability is the key to success and your playing style should change with every stage of the game. When some of the opponents have been eliminated and you arrive at the middle stage, you can loosen up an start playing some marginal hands as well. They increase in value because with less people at the table, there are less chances of anyone having a huge hand, and the blinds are bigger as well, so it is more profitable to play them. You should also be more aggressive at this stage and raise with good hands. It is much easier to be the first to raise than to call or re-raise, and you have the chance to take the pot uncontested if you scare out the more conservative players. Some players have the tendency to tighten up at this point, hoping to make it in the money, so you have the opportunity to accumulate chips.
You should be cautious when you are on the bubble and one step away from finishing in the money. Getting eliminated at this point is a very frustrating experience. You may feel the urge to try eliminating another player, but this is a bad idea most of the time. Again, you should be patient and wait for a good hand chances are someone will get anxious and make a mistake or take an unnecessary risk, allowing you to finish among the first three.
In the final stage of the tournament aggression and stealing blinds are essential, especially if you are short-stacked. At this point things are progressing rapidly and you have little time to make up your mind, so it is crucial not to get distracted or make bad decisions. There is not much point in waiting for the big cards since the blinds will eat up all your stack, so you should raise aggressively and even attempt a few bluffs. Many sit and go players enter multiple tournaments in the same time and play them simultaneously. Multi-tabling is an effective way of increasing your profits, especially at the lower buy-in levels, but in the last stage it requires extra effort to keep up with the different games.
It is very important to keep records of each game you play so that you can analyze your performance later on. Keeping track of your wins and losses will help you assess how much progress you are making, whether you are profitable and help you decide whether this is the right type of game for you. If you want to determine which format is best suited to you (ring games or tournaments) or you want to find a level where you are comfortable, this information is decisive. You should also keep notes about the opponents you have faced. If you are playing at a big site, you may not encounter them again, but these will still be helpful. There is a great variety of players with different styles, and getting to know these will make you better and more efficient after each tournament.
Playing in sit and go tournaments is a great way to practice and develop your strategy, since they involve a low risk level and a lot of action. You gain experience playing at a full table, short-handed and eventually heads-up, which requires much adaptability and skill. It also provides a change of pace if you are used to ring games. It is the preferred format of many players and it is definitely worth trying if you are a poker enthusiast.