SNG Starting Hands A Complete Guide To Starting Hands For Sit And Go Tournaments

The Sit N Go Starting Hands Guide That Explains The Poker Strategy Concepts Behind The Selections

Starting Hand selection is a key component of any winning poker strategy – discipline, combined with the ability to take advantage of profitable situations as they arise can ensure your online play has a solid foundation.

Sit N Go Starting hands selection has 3 major differences when compared to cash game poker – those who ignore these differences (intentionally or otherwise) these will rarely be winners in SNG Poker over the long term. This article will explain these differences and will then provide a starting hand guide which can be adapted to suit your individual needs and playing style.

Finding Opponents That Play Too Many Hands

Key to profits in SNGs (and other poker formats too), is to find players who open with too many hands, and overplay them post-flop. For me the site with the best ratio of fish to grinders is America's Cardroom.

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


3 Critical Factors In SNG Starting Hand Selection

  1. The Stages Of A Sit N Go Tournament:

    Sit And Go Tournaments start with 9 or 10 players and blinds which are a very small percentage of your stack. They end with blinds totaling 15% or more of stacks and just 2 players facing off heads-up. It should be clear that starting hand selection needs to adjust to account for many factors including position, number of opponents, stack sizes and the speed of blind increases (turbo or standard).
  2. Multi-Tabling SNGs And Playing Against Multi-Tablers!

    If you are a SNG Grinder who is playing 8 or even more tables at once then your starting hand selection will be different from the profitable leisure player who enjoys just one game at a time. In order to multi-table effectively, some slightly profitable starting hands are often dropped to make decisions easier. If you are playing against several multi-tablers  you may want to increase your own hand selection to take account of this.
  3. The Bubble And Chip Equity Models

    At the bubble of a SNG tournament you can stop thinking in terms of which hands you wish to select based on their inherent ‘strength’. Instead winning player’s judge the range of SNG hands that opponent’s will call with and work backwards from there. Your SNG Starting hand selection can be very wide for all-in moves (depending on your opponents) and is usually very narrow for calling all-in moves (often premium hands only).

    I strongly recommend checking out the SNG tool 'ICMIZER', this will show you when you push all-in and when to fold at the bubble of a Sit N Go - giving you a massively profitable advantage over your opponents. You can try 3 of these calculations per day for free (though the monthly subscription is worth it's weight in gold!). See for info on how this tool can transform your game. 
  4. Sit N Go Starting Hands Charts

Sit N Go Starting Hands Charts

Notes On The SNG Starting Hand Charts

- We have not included a ‘Call Raise’ column in these charts. This is for a good reason that there are very few scenarios where this is a profitable move. The few that exist are either due to very deep stacks (implied odds plays), situations in which a weak opponent opens and you have a monster hand (hoping to induce a squeeze from an aggressive opponent behind you in the middle stages) or ‘player specific’ situations which are out of scope for this beginners article.

- Blind Stealing will often depend on how likely your opponents are to ‘defend’ rather than the actual cards that you hold. Balance between maintaining an effective stack for stealing during the later stages, and accumulating chips will depend on a number of factors.


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