Introduction to Return on Investment (ROI) and Hourly Rate in SNGs

Comprehensive Introduction to ROI for SNG Tournaments,
includes profit chart for different SNG levels and hourly rate information.

Return on Investment (ROI) is the way in which the profitability of SNG tournaments is measured. This is shown as your profit per game and is expressed as a percentage of the buy-in after the rake (or fee) is removed. For example someone making an average of $2 per game at the $10+1 level would have an ROI of 18.2% ($2/$11 = 18.2%)

Hourly Rate simply takes your expected ROI and number of games you play per hour and gives an average hourly 'wage' for your efforts. Using the above example an 18.2% ROI at the $10+1 level and 4 games per hour would give you an hourly rate of $8. These two concepts are heavily related. Increasing the number of games per hour (by multi-tabling) may decrease your ROI but increase your overall hourly rate.

This article will look at what kind of ROI can be expected by winning SNG players at various levels and will look at some of the factors which affect your ROI and hourly rates. Further SNG Planet articles look at the areas covered here in more detail and explore the mathematical principles behind them.

SNG ROI Expectations - Today's 'Tougher' Fields.

Way Back in 2011 some of the SNG Pros from 2+2 did a review of 100,000 SNGs at various buy-in levels and came up with the following chart of Sit N Go ROI expectations for winning players.

  • $11s - 25% ROI

  • $20s - 20% ROI

  • $33s - 16% ROI

  • $55s - 13% ROI

  • $109s - 10% ROI

  • $215s - 7% ROI

In the years since this survey was published a lot of changes have taken place. These include the US legislation which has taken many purely recreational players from the game, the growth of training sites and websites such as SNG Planet, and the availability and common use of poker software tools - we have summarized these in our article asking Are The SNG Games Becoming Tougher

The common consensus is that these numbers have been reduced and that today’s chart for solid winners should look like this:

$11s - 20% ROI

$20s - 15% ROI

$33s - 10% ROI

$55s - 8% ROI

$109s - 7% ROI

$215s - 6% ROI

SNG ROI Calculations - Including Sample Size Factors

OK, we have outlined some realistic expectations. The key to these numbers is the significant sample size over which they were gathered. To demonstrate the effect of this  we will look at an example after a smaller (100 SNG) sample. This shows clearly that to decide whether you are a profitable SNG player you need a very large sample of games.

Imagine our player has an ROI of 18.2% after 100 games at the $10+1 level. This represents an overall profit of $200. Now we change the outcome of just 5 Sit n Go bubble hands, all of which our player won in the sample we look at.

This time - instead of winning 5 bubble 'coin-flips' each was lost resulting in getting 4th place and no money. While originally winning these 5 flips enabled our player to get 2* 1st, 2* 2nd and 1* 3rd place. The total for these finishes was $180... so now instead of $200 profit we have just $20 – that is a significant change for just 5 hands.

What this should demonstrate is that short-term there are large swings of fortune in SNGs and that a 100, 200 or even 500 game sample can be easily affected by just a few hands.

So what are the other factors that can affect your Sit N Go ROI and Hourly Rate?

  1. Number of winning players at your table can have a large impact - see related articles on choosing the right tables and the fishiest poker sites to avoid them.
  2. Your ability to make good decisions at the bubble is critical. Each 'bad' decision (in terms of prize pool equity) will cost you money over time. If you are not using a calculator like ICMIZER then you are more or less leaving profits on the table! See for more.
  3. The key to a good hourly rate is to play several tables at once. Again information on successful multi-tabling can be found here on SNG Planet.
  4. Whether you play turbo or regular SNGs. While turbo SNGs may have less time for your skill advantages to come into play you can play more games per hour - increasing your hourly rate.
  5. The level at which you play. Having a ROI of just10% at the $30+3 level is better than 20% at the $10+1 level, and will obviously bring you more profit over time. SNG Bankroll management is critical here - those 5 bubble coin-flipscould have a big impact at the higher levels.

Planet Mark’s Rec: The Easiest Sit and Goes Online are Over at America’s Cardroom!

You can use them to grow a bankroll, qualify for online tournaments, or even to help you win a seat in the World Series.

Instead of tables full of ‘regulars’ who know the math, bubble strategy and hand ranges, ACR Poker is recreational. Compare the fields to the bigger sites, and you will quickly see how soft they are for yourself.

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ACR Poker Mark's Rec

Check out our comprehensive room reviews - each one rates the opposition you are likely to face and suggests places to play depending on your preferred buy in level.

Further Reading On Key Bankroll Management Topics

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