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3 Beginner mistakes in SNGs

June 20, 2022
by Raise Your Edge

When players begin to study and search for a deeper understanding of poker, they’re usually focused on things like postflop play and deepstacked play.

While these topics are important for some formats, they’re not very helpful when playing Sit & Go’s (SNG’s). Here, we’ll talk about 3 common mistakes most beginners make in SNG’s and give you some guidance on what to study first when it comes to this lightning-fast format.

Don’t Play Too Many Hands in The Early Stages

When you’re on the first few levels of a SNG, it can be tempting to try and get ahead with an early lead. However, by doing this, you can put yourself at risk pretty unnecessarily. The early stages of SNG’s are simply about survival, as every player that busts brings you closer to the money.

Imagine you’re playing a 6 handed hyper turbo SNG. If just one player busts out, you’ve already beaten 1/6 of the field, and are that much closer to the money!

In SNG’s, the real money is made on the bubble and in the late game, not in the early stages. Tighten up your ranges and focus on surviving the other players early on.

Exploit Players on The Bubble

Close to the bubble, players tend to play too cautiously and passively. What they should be doing is looking to put pressure on other players, at least when they have a big stack or a short stack (more on playing mid stacks in the third tip).

When you have the biggest stack or the shortest stack near the bubble, you should look to put pressure on your opponents and be aggressive when you’re first to put money in the pot.

While you might have already known that you should pressurize other players as the big stack near the bubble, it’s also important to pressurize your opponents as the shortstack. Typically, in SNG’s, your stack will still be large enough to put a significant amount of pressure on your opponents, and as the shortstack, you have some catching up to do anyway.

Should you bust on the bubble, it’s almost like you were “supposed to,” since your stack was the lowest. But what happens if you get a double up and now have an average stack on the bubble?

Play Cautiously as a Midstack

When you have an average stack, you need to tighten up your game and play more cautiously, to retain your chips and avoid busting out before the shortstacks. This is especially true when someone puts you at risk for your tournament life. Busting out while players have shorter stacks is painful, and often not something you want to risk without a very strong hand.


The dynamics and fundamentals of SNG’s are pretty simple:

  • Play tight in the early stages, no matter your stack size.
  • When the bubble hits, play aggressively when you have a big stack or a short stack.
  • Tighten up around the bubble with an average stack.

Make sure to study ICM (Independent Chip Model) implications on the bubble, shortstack strategy and heads up play. Constantly look to improve your skills in these areas. With time and practice, you’ll start seeing improvements in your SNG game much faster than you might think.

Hopefully this article was helpful and gave you a solid understanding of basic SNG strategy. If you’d like to go deeper and really start learning about how to crush this format, check out this article on why ICM matters. This will give you a deeper understanding of what ICM is and how it applies to your game.

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