Single table Sit and Gos are normally referred to as STTs, and are just like playing a final table except everyone begins with the same amount of chips. They are the perfect game choice for busy people who cannot dedicate hours of their day playing MTTs (multi-table tournaments). These single table tournaments get filled up very quickly, especially at the big online poker rooms such as PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, however there are usually quite a few tables to register at. This also makes it perfect for players who enjoy multi-tabling.
Of course, the main goal of playing these sit and gos is to win or cash, and to do that you will have to place in the top 3. The amount of players varies depending on the poker room but most sit and gos begin with 9 or 10 players. So this means you will have to defeat 6 or 7 players to get to the cash. Here is an example of the payout structure in a Full Tilt Poker 9-person $10+$1 STT:
Buy-in = $10+$1
Number of players = 9
Prize pool = $90
1st = $45
2nd = $27
3rd = $18
As you can see finishing first in these STT?s can give you a very nice profit, but like every poker game there is a strategy needed to win. The main attribute of a successful sit and go player is patience. Most players play lots of hands early because the blinds are so low, but this is a mistake because they will end up just throwing away their chips which are so valuable in the latter stages to steal blinds. Instead of hoping to win a pot cheaply in the early stages, sit back and watch as the loose players knock themselves out. Good sit and go players can cash constantly because they stick to a basic strategy and here is ours to help you become a winning STT poker player.
7-10 Players Remaining
As we talked about above, a few players will play very loose and throw away their chips with very mediocre hands in the early stages. You could find 2 or 3 of them knocked out in just a matter of minutes; however this does mean your opponents will have larger stacks than you but don?t let that worry you. Hand selection is essential in the early stages and only premium hands such as A-A, K-K, Q-Q and A-K, should be played. These hands all merit an all-in and all you can hope for is that your hand is strongest pre-flop and holds up. Many people will get lucky and win with worse hands but don?t let that deter you; an all-in to double up with such a good hand is the best choice of play here. The main thing to avoid in this stage is chasing pots and seeing too many flops, save your chips for the latter stages!
5-7 Players Remaining
You should still be playing tightly with 5-7 players left. However now you should be adopting a slightly different strategy and beginning to steal blinds from the short stacks or in late position with strong hands. If you doubled-up earlier in the STT then you can be patient and continue sticking to premium hands. If you are a short stack then you must double up or try stealing some blinds so you aren?t blinded out of the tournament. By playing premium hands you should be an average ? large stack unless you got unlucky, therefore stick to this general rule: Attack small stacks and avoid large stacks (unless your hand is very strong).
4-5 Players To Go
When the game gets down to 4-5 players the action really starts! The last thing you want is to finish on the bubble so at this stage each player has their own agenda. Some will be playing very tight not wanting to risk their chips in the hope of cashing, while others will be taking advantage of this and stealing their blinds. You should be the aggressor at this point, raising against short stacks who won?t want to risk any chips. At the same time however, the last thing you want to do is double them up so don?t make silly plays with poor hands because the short stack could push all in. If you happen to be a short stack then you need to be aggressive and don?t just fold every hand or you will get blinded out. With any decent hand push all-in in the hope of doubling up.
3 Players To Go
If you make it down to the final 3 players then you can be happy to have cashed, but now the goal should be finishing first. Now 2/3rds of the time you will be in either the small or big blind so your goal should be protecting your blind, not letting the others steal it. Of course, if you are dealt a rubbish hand and are faced by a raise you should fold, but look to steal your opponent?s blinds and double yourself up in the hope of beginning heads-up as the big stack.
When you get down to heads-up you should continue your aggression. Stealing blinds is vital to winning a heads-up battle and you can learn more in our heads-up poker strategy article. At this stage players will go all-in with anything, any Ace, any pocket pair, any suited connectors, suited cards etc. All you can hope is that you have the best hand when you call because there is no point folding every hand to your opponents? all-in shove; that?s just handing them an easy victory.
Try this strategy for yourself but remember to be patient. You might lose at first but as soon as you get used to the structure and the strategy that is needed, you will find yourself consistently cashing.