NLHE Cash Games vs Sit n Goes – Which Is The Most Profitable?

Hourly Rate Profit Comparison Between SNGs and Cash Games,
Adjusted For Multi-Tabling, Softest Poker Sites and Buy-In Levels.

When push comes to shove there is only one thing that matters to the profit-focused online poker player – your hourly rate. This describes your expectated profits in Tournaments, Sit N Goes or Cash Games per hour of poker played. Anyone serious about taking money from the poker tables should ask themselves the question – which game(s) will give me the biggest overall poker profits?

Looking deeper it quickly becomes apparent that this calculation is not easy. The reason being that poker profitability is calculated differently in the different forms of poker. SNGs use Return on Investment (ROI) calculations while Texas Holdem Cash Game profits are calculated in terms of 'Poker Tracker Big Blinds' per 100 hands.

This article will address this by showing the 2 calculation methods and then comparing Sit and Go + Cash game profits side by side. We will show which game is the most profitable and also where Sit N Go and cash buy-in levels compare.

The standard calculation of profitability in cash games is “PTBB / 100” this stands for Poker Tracker Big Blinds and shows your average profit expectation as a figure of twice the big blind for each 100 hands. If the big blind is $1 and on average you win $10 per 100 hands your PTBB/100 score would be 5. Here are some examples of PTBB/100 expectations for different players:

3 PTBB/100 Steady but small profits, probably some leaks in your game…
5 to 6 PTBB/100 Average profits, good result for multi-tablers
10+ PTBB/100 Excellent results, over a large sample this indicates a solid winner.

Sit n Go Tournament profits are calculated using ROI. There are many factors which affect SNG ROI including which site you play at (some are very tough compared to others), the buy-in level and whether you play turbo or standard Sit and Goes. For detail on SNG ROI calculations please see our Introduction To SNG ROI article. Here we will use a summary chart of long-term expected ROI by buy-in level:

$11 SNGs- 20% ROI

$20 SNGs - 15% ROI

$33 SNGs- 10% ROI

$55 SNGs - 8% ROI

$109 SNGs - 7% ROI

$215 SNGs - 6% ROI

Sit And Goes vs Cash Game Profits - Turning ROI and PTBB/100 Into Hourly Rates

Next we have to include some assumptions on the number of tables played. In order to make a good profit in sit n go tournaments it is necessary to multi-table. While cash-game players also multi-table the number of tables will generally be lower. This is because the decisions are more complex in cash games, often involving post-flop play and key bet sizing decisions. For the purposes of this comparison we will look at 2 online poker pros, one plays 10 SNGs per hour (6-tabling turbo SNGs for example) and the other playing 3 or 4 cash game tables totaling 200 hands per hour.


Using 5 PTBB as ‘average’ we get the following chart of profits for cash game players.

NL25 (Big Blind = 25c) – 5 PTBB per 100 =  $10 / Hour

NL50 (Big Blind = 50c) – 5 PTBB per 100 =  $20 / Hour

NL100 (Big Blind = $1) – 5 PTBB per 100 =  $40 / Hour 

NL200 (Big Blind = $2) – 5 PTBB per 100 =  $80 / Hour

With the two hourly rate calculations complete we can now do the comparison:

Now the equivalent chart for the SNG Pro playing 10 tables per hour

$11s - ROI = 20% - (11*0.20)*6 = $13.20 / Hour

$22s - ROI = 15% - (22*0.15)*6 = $19.80 / Hour

$33s - ROI = 12% - (33*0.12)*6 = $23.76 / Hour

$55s - ROI = 10% - (55*0.10)*6 = $33.00 / Hour

$109s - ROI = 8% - (109*0.08)*6 = $52.32 / Hour

$215s - ROI = 5% - (215*0.05)*6 = $64.00 / Hour


$11 Sit n Go = NL25

$22 to $33 Sit n Go = NL50

$55 to $109 Sit n Go = NL100

$215 Sit n Go = NL200

Our conclusion is that there is a good hourly profit to be made in both Sit and Go tournaments and NLHE Cash games. Of course this compares only the average players at an average site. In reality no two poker sites are the same, especially when it comes to SNGs the number of other winning players, blind structures and bonuses available make a huge difference to your profits at the end of the day and month. Likewise some cash games are full of ‘rocks’ clearing bonuses while others are loose and fast. Finding the most profitable poker site should be as important to a player who is serious about poker than improving their game. Our Best Tournament Poker Sites section has detailed and fair reviews if a number of poker rooms – make sure you start maximizing that Sit N Go or cash game profits today!

Mark's Tip: If you really want profits from SNGs these days, then there is no escaping the math! With poker skills + sharp bubble math, these games can still be crushed for a good hourly rate. I use ICMIZER 2,  a powerful ICM caculator that will spot your leaks and missed opportunities. Get your push / fold game in order, and the money will follow! Check out for more.

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