What Is Sit and Go Poker? Information You Need to Know

I receive this question from beginner poker players often: “What is sit and go poker?” They don’t always use the exact wording: “What is sit and go poker?” but you get the idea. One answer to this question is as follows: These are great poker tournaments you want to play.

Sit & Go Poker Value

Just so we’re on the same page, if you’re also asking: “What is sit and go poker?” when I write about it, I’m thinking about the live version of the game. There are also many online sit and go poker tournaments.

Some of what I’m about to write will apply to online poker, but the majority of it will apply to live Texas Hold’em poker tournaments. You will find more value in the live version of the game than the online version of the game.

what is sit and go poker? Live Game

There is one simple reason for that. When you play live sit and go Texas Hold’em poker tournaments, someone is likely to ask about a “Last Longer” side bet. For simplicity purposes, let’s say it’s a $125 sit and go. In this case, someone is likely to say something along the lines of: “Twenty dollar Last Longer. Who’s in?”

You always want to answer yes to this question. One, if you answer no, it’s going to look like you’re scared, and scared money don’t win. Two, there is no house rake on a Last Longer because you’re using cash from your pocket. You can’t put the cash on the felt, so be sure not to do that.

The dealers and the Floor usually pretend not to notice what you’re doing. When you take out your $20, give it to the person holding the money. Sometimes it will all be placed in a cup holder until there is one person left who collects the money.

Sit and Go Poker Side Bets

Let’s say there are seven people in the Last Longer. If that’s the case, then the person who lasted the longest in the sit and go will take the cash. Since they invested $20 of their own money, this means they net $120. In most cases, the person winning the Last Longer is also someone who chops or wins the tournament. However, there are situations where only a few people are involved in the Last Longer.

You can also do a Heads-Up Last Longer, which is usually for more money. I recommend doing the Heads-Up Last Longer, even if it’s for $100. Here’s why.

If you’re playing a $125 sit and go and you have another $100 on the line vs. one other player, do you think you’re going to play better or worse? You’re almost always going to play better. Since you have a considerable bet on the line, you’re going to be more focused. The human brain works in mysterious ways, but once you figure out some of those mysteries, you’re good to go.

If you enter a $125 sit and go, your mind is accepting that you have just entered a poker tournament and you have accepted the risk. Once you’re in, you have already partially decided that you’re paying for the entertainment. You would rather win, but you can deal with it if you lose.

I know this because you had the money to enter the tournament in the first place. If you add the $20 for the standard Last Longer side bet, you might put in a little more effort, but you’re not going to be zoned in. You had already planned on investing/risking $125 prior to your arrival. Now you’re adding $20, which feels like a small side bet.

Things Change – Time to Focus

When you agree to a heads-up Last Longer for $100, things change. Now you’re telling yourself that you had the plan of investing $125 and it has now turned into $245 ($125 buy-in + $20 Last Longer + $100 Heads-Up Last Longer). Those with more on the line tend to focus more.

This doesn’t mean you’re going to win, but it’s going to have an interesting impact in most situations. Despite investing more in the actual poker tournament, you’re going to focus more on the $100 Heads-Up Last Longer. That’s because it’s money you didn’t intend to invest when you arrived.

With that in the back of your mind, you’re going to be more patient and you’re going to avoid unnecessary risks. Without you realizing it, this will lead to you playing better in the tournament itself, which means you will have a better shot at cashing than the majority of the field.

I’ll be upfront with you. This isn’t always going to work. However, if you understand basic poker strategy and apply our poker rules for winning, you will come out ahead over the long haul. In a $125 sit and go, $1100 usually goes to the winner.

There usually isn’t one winner in a sit and go unless one player has a massive chip lead. In most cases, it will be a two-way chop or a three-way chop. Let’s say it’s a two-way chop and you won the Last Longer as well as the Heads-Up Last Longer. This means you netted $645.

Advanced Poker Math

You chopped $1100 for $550 each, but you have to subtract your buy-in, which brings it down to $425. You won $140 Last Longer, but that’s $120 because you’re getting your own $20 back. Up until this point, we’re at $545. Then you won the $100 from the Heads-Up Last Longer. That brings us to $645.

I hope those numbers are correct because I’m no math genius. I think whatever was taken from me on the math side has been made up for on the people/creative side. At least I hope so. Embarrassingly, I once posted something on Facebook about a small stake in a poker tournament. I didn’t realize until hours later that it made no sense at all. Someone politely pointed this out to me and I fixed it, but wow that was stupid!

I’m not saying I’m math stupid. I’m saying that I need to think about math. The people/creative side of my brain seems to work naturally. Much easier. This is also great news for you because it means you can win poker games without being a math genius. If I can do it, you can do it. You just need to know the basics on the math side.

Tipping the Dealer

By the way, the numbers above don’t include what you’re going to tip the dealer. That’s if you tip the dealer. I always tip the dealer, but I never take from any Last Longer winnings and neither should you. I don’t know how much you usually tip, but the tips on sit and go poker tournaments are generally much higher than they are for regular poker tournaments.

In regular poker tournaments, the standard is 2%. In sit and gos, the range is incredible. I often see the dealer ending up with $100, which is part of the reason they love sit and gos. It’s also why I have never had a dealer ask me: “What is sit and go poker?” They know.

ICM Chop

If we exclude the tip factor, you netted $645 on this sit and go poker tournament. Based on your total investment, this means you would need net this number in every 2.63 attempts. That’s actually pretty tough, and it’s why you should alter your sit and go poker strategy a little.

If you did a standard Last Longer and a Heads-Up Last Longer, your opponent is out, you’re heads-up, and you have the chip lead, I highly recommend bringing up an ICM Chop. This means you will be paid more because you have more chips. You can use an ICM Calculator to figure out how much you’re owed. You can also play it out because now you’re basically freerolling, and that extra winnings is going to play a major role in your profitability.

Sometimes I operate backwards, but isn’t that a lot more fun than: Hero on Button, 3x BB, Villain in SB calls, C-Bet on 887-rainbow, blah blah blah! You might as well offer me an HVAC advertisement to read.

I’m mentioning operating backwards because I should have begun with: What is sit and go poker? I still haven’t answered that question. It’s cool, though. I suspect you’re going to stay on this journey with me anyway, through thick and thin, and I love you for that.

Okay, I don’t actually love you, but didn’t I just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? I like making people warm and fuzzy, but I won’t elaborate on that at this time. For now, I’ll get to: What is sit and go poker?

What Is Sit And Go Poker?

Sit and Go Poker is a one-table poker tournament. It’s usually nine or ten seats and very few chips in your starting stack. The blinds move rapidly, but unless you sync your watch or phone with the dealer’s timer, you won’t know when the blinds move up because they usually use a small portable timer that’s kept in their tray. When that timer beeps, the blinds go up.

Sit and Go Poker

Most sit and go poker tournaments move like Ultra Turbos. This usually forces people into making very loose and aggressive decisions. This would make the average person think they should do the same (sheep mentality), but if most people are playing too fast, it means they will be knocking themselves out relatively quickly.

One of the best and most underrated poker tips for sit and go poker tournaments is to take it slow. When you do that, half the field will be gone within 30 minutes.

Think about that for a minute. How often do you sit at a poker table and not get any quality poker hands for hours? If you’re like most poker players, it happens all the time. In that case, do you think, maybe, that you can wait 30 measly minutes?

I know you’re worried about the blinds, but don’t worry about it! What people fail to realize about the blinds is that as they go up the pots are bigger, which allows you to make up ground much faster. You just need to win in those one or two big spots.

Patience Is Key

Essentially, you can lose or build your stack slowly (if you begin getting involved from Hand #1) or quickly (if you begin getting involved on much later poker hands in the tournament). It doesn’t matter! The only exception is when it’s a soft and passive field and you can steamroll from the beginning. Those are fun, but these kinds of opportunities don’t come around that often.

When you wait halfway through the tournament for your turn to strike, you’re going big or going home. You have to be able to live with that. If you lose that big pot, you’re toast. If you win that big pot, you’re probably going to be first or second in chips. Now you can coast for a while as a few more people get knocked out.

During this stretch, you’re probably going to win at least one of your Last Longer side bets. As the blinds continue to increase, you can now go more AGGRO. This is an excellent time to strike because your opponents will fear getting knocked out since they’re so close to the win. Use that fear against them. Make them pay.

You quickly adapted and switched gears several times. That means you’re not TAG, LAG, AGGRO, or NIT. Nobody can pin you to one category, which is what you want. Imagine living in Austin. Everyone who works in your area is a competitor in your industry. When you walk to work, your face changes once every four mornings.

People would think that you only go to work once every four days. This would lead to them putting their guard down. And if they really paid attention, they would be confused as to who they’re truly competing against. Just sayin’.

Final Thoughts

What is sit and go poker? It’s a great way to beat the house thanks to the Last Longer side bet opportunities. If you can afford it, and if you have the cash on you, I always recommend doing a Last Longer. It’s rake-free and you’re going to focus more.

Some people go to WSOP Circuit stops and only play in sit and go poker tournaments. That strategy fits into our poker rules for winning because it leads to an advantage. Something to ponder.

♠ pokerjournal.org / Tyler Nals


Q: What is sit and go Texas hold’em?

A: It’s a ten-player, one-table poker tournament. It usually last around one hour, but it can sometimes last around two hours.

Q: Can you make money playing sit and go poker?

A: Yes. It’s one of the best poker games to play for profitability. This relates to the “Last Longer” side bet opportunities.

Q: How much money do I need to play SNG poker?

A: It depends on the location. You will usually need a minimum of $125, but there are smaller live buy-in sit and go poker tournaments.

Q: How much money can I win playing SNG poker?

A: This depends on how many you tournaments you play. If you played ten tournaments per day, you could potentially net a couple of thousand per day. If you take this route, be sure to read the poker tips above prior to attempting.

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