Winning SNG Strategy

The endgame is where the most money is made and lost in Sit-N-Go’s online. This article will teach you how to play the late stages and heads-up when short-stacked.


The endgame is where the most money is made and lost in Sit-N-Go’s online. You must have a good understanding of how to play the bubble. You also must understand game flow and table dynamics to capitalize at this stage of the game. This article will teach you how to play the late stages of Sit-N-Go’s and how to play heads-up poker when short-stacked.

Late Stage Play (Playing the Bubble)

Play to cash then play to win: Unlike multi-table tournaments where there is a huge disparity in the pay scale, SNG’s have a relatively flat payout structure. Cashing is very significant and will have a drastic impact on your overall return on investment. Don’t let dreams of first place cloud your judgement, your first job is to make the money before you go for the glory.

  • Evaluate everyone’s stack size and figure out who is under the most pressure to cash
  • Apply pressure to the stacks that are shorter than yours while trying to avoid the big stacks
  • Be willing to shove all in with a very wide range of hands when your opponents can only call you with a select few hands due to ICM considerations (independent chip modeling)
  • Don’t feel the need to make big hero calls just because you have a big stack, It’s not your job to bust the other players, it’s your job to make correct mathematical calls

Examples of common stack dynamics on the bubble:

One big stack, three short stacks: the big stack can apply max pressure to all other players.

One big stack, two medium stacks, one short stack: The big stack should pick on the medium stack, while avoiding the short stack who has nothing to lose, medium stacks should pick on each other.

Two Big Stacks, Two short stacks: big stacks should apply pressure to the short stacks while avoiding each other.

All Equal stacks: everyone can apply equal pressure to each other but should focus on playing small ball and avoiding large all in confrontations.

The important thing to note is that when there is only one short stack in play you shouldn't pick on him too much since he has nothing to lose. When there are multiple short stacks you can bully them a lot since they will most often try to wait for the other player to bust out before playing any hands.

In the Money and Heads-Up Play

Once you've made the money it’s time to go for the title. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose since you’re already guaranteed a return on your investment.

  • Play aggressively, blinds are very big at this stage and are worth stealing. Most players play way too tight at this stage of the tournament
  • Be willing to gamble, the difference between 1st and 2nd is much more significant than the difference between 2nd and 3rd so taking coin flips and 60/40's at this stage makes sense since it gives you the best shot at winning
  • Re-shove a wide range against aggressive openers (remember you have nothing to lose, and suckouts happen much more often than you’d expect, so go for it!)
  • Don’t be afraid to call off with hands like A9-off and KJ-off, they will often be ahead of short stacks shoving ranges.

Basic Heads-up Strategy for Sit N Go's

You will be very short stacked most of the time if you make it to heads-up, so here are two methods that will have you playing better than 90% of opponents at low stakes.

Option 1 (small ball): Raise 100% of your buttons, c-bet ¾ pot on the flop, ½ pot on the turn. Shut down if you face any aggression unless you flopped at least top pair or a strong draw.

Most of the time your opponent will not connect with the flop (if they even call pre-flop) therefore your c-bets will take down the pot most of the time

Option 2 (Nash Equilibirum): If you’d rather just play the all-in or fold game follow the chart.

Nash Equilibrium

Pusher
A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
A 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+
K 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 19.9 19.3
Q 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 16.3 13.5 12.7
J 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 18.6 14.7 13.5 10.6 8.5
10 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 11.9 10.5 7.7 6.5
9 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 11.4 6.9 4.9 3.7
8 20+ 18.0 13.0 13.3 17.5 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 18.8 10.1 2.7 2.5
7 20+ 16.1 10.3 8.5 9.0 10.8 14.7 20+ 20+ 20+ 13.9 2.5 2.1
6 20+ 15.1 9.6 6.5 5.7 5.2 7.0 10.7 20+ 20+ 16.3 * 2.0
5 20+ 14.2 8.9 6.0 4.1 3.5 3.0 2.6 2.4 20+ 20+ ** 2.0
4 20+ 13.1 7.9 5.4 3.8 2.7 2.3 2.1 2.0 2.1 20+ *** 1.8
3 20+ 12.2 7.5 5.0 3.4 2.5 1.9 1.8 1.7 1.8 1.6 20+ 1.7
2 20+ 11.6 7.0 4.6 2.9 2.2 1.8 1.6 1.5 1.5 1.4 1.4 20+
Caller
A K Q J 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
A 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+
K 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 17.6 15.2 14.3 13.2 12.1 11.4 10.7
Q 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 16.1 13.0 10.5 9.9 8.9 8.4 7.8 7.2
J 20+ 20+ 20+ 20+ 18 13.4 10.6 8.8 7.0 6.9 6.1 5.8 5.6
10 20+ 20+ 15.3 12.7 20+ 11.5 9.3 7.4 6.3 5.2 5.2 1.8 4.5
9 20+ 17.1 11.7 9.5 8.4 20+ 8.2 7.0 5.8 5.0 4.3 4.1 3.9
8 20+ 13.8 9.7 7.6 6.6 6.0 20+ 6.5 5.6 4.8 4.1 3.6 3.5
7 20+ 12.4 8.0 6.4 5.5 5.0 4.7 20+ 5.4 4.8 4.1 3.6 3.3
6 20+ 11.0 7.3 5.4 4.6 4.2 4.1 4.0 20+ 4.9 4.3 3.8 3.3
5 20+ 10.2 6.8 5.1 4.0 3.7 3.6 3.6 3.7 20+ 4.6 4.0 3.6
4 18.3 9.1 6.2 4.7 3.8 3.3 3.2 3.2 3.3 3.5 20+ 3.8 3.4
3 16.6 8.7 5.9 4.5 3.6 3.1 2.9 2.9 2.9 3.1 3.0 20+ 3.3
2 15.8 8.1 5.6 4.2 3.5 3.0 2.8 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.7 2.6 15

The chart shows the number of big blinds your stack size consists of and what limit you should push (small blind) or call (big blind) on.

LEGEND
green = suited
orange = offsuit
blue = pocket pair
*(63s) = 7.1 - 5.1bb or 2.3bb
**(53s) = 12.9 - 3.8bb or 2.4bb
***(43s) = 10 - 4.9bb or 2.2bb

Most players at low stakes will not be calling your all-ins with the right hands and will be folding way too much allowing you to chip up and take over pole position

How to play Out of Position: call with broadway hands, stackoff if you make top pair or better, slow play over pairs, check raise flops with the intention of going all in. Re-shove with hands that have good equity when called (medium aces, strong suited connectors and small-medium pocket pairs).

By following the strategies outlined in this article you should be able to get a 10-30% ROI playing micro stakes and small stakes Sit N Gos. In this format of poker tight is right, anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool. Your job is to preserve your chips and invest them in spots where you are likely to get them back with interest. You are now armed with knowledge, which in this game is power. The most important thing to do is keep your cool and avoid tilting. Bad beats are going to happen but that doesn’t mean you can’t recover from them. All you need is a chip and a chair….and a killer strategy guide doesn’t hurt.

Let us know if you found these tips helpful, hopefully you’ll be stackin' those chips in no time!

Photo Credit: ps50mm | Flickr