A sit-and-go poker tournament is normally a single table poker tournament with a fixed amount of players. Sometimes you will see a multi-table sit-and go (SnG) with two or three different tables, but the idea is the same: A set amount of poker players compete until only one remains, with the top few finishers collecting all of the money. Mastering the SnG tournament is a must for any beginning poker player because it is final table practice for the larger poker tournaments you will compete in later on. What strategy should you bring to a SnG tournament?
Because so few players are playing against you in a sit-and-go, it is important to track your opponents' play early on. Are they loose or tight? Are there any maniacs at the table? In a large, 1,000-person field tournament, you may move around to different tables so often, you won't play against one opponent long enough for a read to matter. But for a single table tournament, learning about your opponents' tendencies is very beneficial. If you plan on winning the tournament, you will be forced to go head-to-head with many of them in order to eliminate them from the poker tournament. Information you pick up at the start of play could come in handy late in the tourney, and mean the difference between and first or second place finish.
Play tight at the start of the SnG. Patience is your virtue. A regular one table sit-and-go pays the top three players. Many low-limit players (tournaments that cost only a couple of dollars) do not take sit and go's seriously. They think of the tournaments as a time waster and risk their chips unreasonably. Do not mix it up with these players with marginal hands. Wait for a strong, made hand, then attack. These types of trigger happy players are just waiting to hand over their poker chips. Avoid pots with more skilled opponents, and focus on your weaker SnG competitors
Around the bubble (a term used to describe the last few poker players to be eliminated without making the money), action begins to tighten up, as players hope to sneak into the top 3 without having to involve themselves in pots. They hope another remaining player will make a drastic mistake and bump them up another spot on the sit-and-go leader board; what they don't realize is that changing the style of play at this critical intersection is its own mistake.
This is the time to open your game up wide. Raise with a larger range of hands. The timid poker players whose only goal is to win some sort of prize won't be calling. Winning the chips your opponents are fine with surrendering will be vital for accomplishing your goal of winning the sit and go. Once you are in the money, congratulations, but continue to apply pressure to your remaining opponents. By this point, the blind value will be higher, making aggression more profitable, and the players will be less likely to defend against your raises for fear of being eliminated prematurely. Play for first place in a sit-and-go because that is where the real money is. Second and third pays much less.
Always remember, the prize money is awarded to the poker players who survive. Do not needlessly risk being knocked out. You will have to take stands once in awhile with a big hand, like pocket queens. Otherwise, think defensively during a sit-and-go poker tournament until the bubble. From then on your strategy and actions should be aggressive.