Single Table Tournaments, known as SNG or Sit and Go poker tournaments are quite convenient.  Single table tourneys are formed at will, as they lack a set start time.  Simply put, a player wishing to play in a sit and go simply registers for the tournament.  When the tournament fills, play begins.  During the opening rounds of a single table tournament, adopting an effective strategy can help drive you deep into the money.

What to Expect from the Opening Rounds of an SNG

During the opening rounds, the blinds are small in relation to the amount of chips with which SNG players begin.  Play often begins with blinds amounting to fifty to one-hundred times the starting stack, which gives plenty of playing room during the opening parts of the SNG.  When blinds are this low in relation to the average stack, it allows players to utilize virtually every tool in the poker player’s bag of tricks.

Because the blinds are at a level accommodating creative play, during the opening rounds of an SNG, play is typically loose and overly aggressive.  Players tend to raise preflop in an attempt to build a bigger, seemingly worthwhile pot.  Because players try to build pots that are worth their time and effort, they often become blinded, overvaluing and overplaying their hands during the early stages, as a result.  Thus, the opposing players will stick around longer than they should with marginal hands, paying off players who have out flopped or out drawn them.

How to Play the Opening Rounds of an SNG

Because of the tendency to play too many hands in the opening rounds of a single table tournament, players should capitalize on this common flaw.  With this in mind, we want to adopt a somewhat loose and passive posture before the flop in the early rounds of our single table tournament.  After the flop, we will look to either catch and bet aggressively, or release our hand.

When playing from early position in these early rounds, we want to limp with our early position hand range.  When we limp from early position, we are counting on a player raising behind us.  Thus, we will be a bit more selective in the early position hands than we are with hands in later position.

When playing from later position, we will again look to limp most of the time.  We will do so with our entire range of playable hands.  When players raise in front of us, providing the raise is reasonable in size, we will call in position most of the time.

Once the flop occurs, we will look to extract maximum value whenever the opportunity allows us to do so.  When we make a hand on the flop, we will over-bet the pot to make up for the absence of a preflop raise.  Often, a player during the early single table tournament stages will call optimistically on the flop.  Because this is the case, we can over-bet and get away with it.  Moreover, players forget they are playing outside their normal hand range.  For this reason, they continue with weaker hands – valuing them higher than they should.  For example, a player may limp with ace-three suited from under the gun.  This player is ripe for the picking by players who have him out kicked.  This player will tend to hand over his entire stack throughout the hand – and we will be there to take them gladly!

When playing the early stages of a single table tournament, play passively before the flop, looking to step up the aggression and extract maximum value post-flop.  Doing so will help propel you to the later stages and money stages of the single table tournament.