Heads-Up SNGs vs Cash Games

Compares Heads-Up Poker Cash Games and Heads-Up SNGs

Heads-up poker is becoming very popular, with 2 forms of HU games available many players ask whether they should be playing SNGS or Cash Heads-Up games. We will note the key differences below to allow you to make your own decision. We will will also link to some key Heads-up Poker Strategy articles as we go through the cash / SNG comparison to help players at all levels to improve their game.

Heads-up Cash Games vs SNGs #1 – Fixed Price or Reload

Heads-up cash games have the advantage that you can reload your chips when ever you wish – topping up to whatever the table maximum is. There are many reasons to do this, not least if your opponent ‘gets lucky’ in a hand but is obviously weak – you would like to have the maximum amount of chips to win as your skill edge allows.

Heads-up SNGs have advantages here too. The fixed price will enable players to exercise effective SNG Bankroll Management skills easily, it also enables ‘deep stacked’ play at a fixed price – potentially allowing a deeper chip stack to give your poker skills time to show.

Heads-up Cash Games vs SNGs #2 – Rake And Tournament Fees

With heads-up cash games the rake is often smaller than in full ring games, however, over time the small 25c here, $1 there can add up to a considerable sum. This is especially pronounced if you play a lot of pots in the $2 to $9 range (the rake is smaller as a percentage if more and many pots below will not see a flop, thus no rake).

Heads-up SNGs have a fixed fee – usually 5% of the buy-in amount for each player (less as you move up levels). While a direct comparison would depend on the rake regimes of specific poker sites the SNGs have the advantage of knowing in advance what your payout to the site will be.

Heads-up Cash Games vs SNGs #3 – Table Time

Once you have started a heads-up SNG you are there for the duration. If you sit out then you just blind away your stack and your opponent takes the prize money. In HU Cash games you choose when you join and leave, whether this be several hours or just a short session.

Of course the reverse is also true. If it becomes too obvious in a cash game that you are way better than your opponent then he might leave. With a SNG at least you can take the amount of his buy-in before this happens.

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Heads-up Cash Games vs SNGs #4 – Blind / Stack Ratios

In cash games the blinds always stay the same. In fact if there are several big pots and re-buys the proportion of stacks to blinds may be very small – giving the advantage to deep stack poker specialists. Conversely, an opponent may buy-in for the minimum in a heads-up cash game – making the effective stacks only 20bbs.

Things are different in HU SNGs, the blinds start off small and grow at a pre-determined rate. Here we have a significant difference between turbo HU SNGS and standard HU SNGs. With the standard (10 or 15 minute levels) the blind increases actually have little chance to have an effect in most matches – the game being over before they become too significant a portion of your stack. With the turbo (5 minute or less) blind versions then it will have an effect – meaning players of these games need to know how to manage 15 big blind stacks as well as 50 to 100 bb stacks.

So there are pros and cons to each style, and ultimately it is down to the individual player to decide. One word of caution – actually in the form of a question… which sites have the largest number of HU Poker professionals (including lower limit grinders) as a proportion of their players? Well, it’s the largest ones, where virtually every online poker pro plays.

Our growing guide to the best sites for HU Poker SNGs will give some profitable suggestions – for worldwide as well as US players.

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