Best SNG Poker Sites 2017
You can sign up to any online poker room these days and start playing sit and go tournaments immediately. But which poker site is the best for SNGs? Allow me to help point you in the right direction.
Sit and go poker sites rankings table.
What to look for in a good sit and go poker room.
Every online poker room offers SNG tournaments (sometimes referred to as STTs). I could just cobble together any old list of random rooms and call them the "best poker sites for sit and gos". However, I enjoy being opinionated, so I won't.
Here are the factors I looked at when compiling this list of the best places to play SNGs in 2017:
- Poker room player traffic.
- The level of competition (how "soft" the site is).
- Variety and types of SNG tournaments on offer.
- Tournament fees.
- Basic SNG structure (i.e. starting stack sizes and blind structure).
1) Poker room player traffic.
Without at least few hundred SNG players active in the poker room lobby throughout the day, the action can get a little stale. The more active players there are in the lobby, the quicker the tables will fill up and the less time you have to spend staring at empty seats.
Don't underestimate how annoying it is to wait for a simple sit and go tournament to fill up at a low-traffic room. It's just like driving to a theme park all excited, only to find out there is an hour-long queue for every ride.
Stick with the high traffic sites and ride the roller coasters until you're sick.
2) The level of competition.
Don't forget that you're in this for the money. Sure, playing SNG tournaments at online poker sites is a barrel of fun, but it's even more fun if you're winning money.
There's no shame in hunting down and taking advantage of bad players. In fact, it's just common sense. If you don't win a fish's money, someone else will. If you're a decent SNG player, a high traffic poker room + soft competition = easy money.
3) Variety and types of SNG tournaments on offer.
Even though the Texas Hold'em SNG games are the most popular, there are a bunch of variations of the sit and go tournament on offer. Here are a few of the different types with some examples:
- Number of entrants
- 2 (Heads Up)
- 18 (More than one table)
- Poker games
- Texas Hold'em
- Faster blind levels
- Super Turbo
- Extreme Turbo
- Varying stack sizes
- Regular (100bbs)
- Double Stack (200bbs)
- Varying payout structures
- Fifty 50 (PokerStars only)
I'll explain more about these different types of SNGs in a minute. But basically, even if you're happy with the standard SNG format it's nice to have a bit of variety to choose from (if you're ever feeling fruity).
4) Tournament fees.
Again, winning money is important. Although the standard fee for a SNG is 10% (e.g. $10 + $1), these fees can and will vary between sites. As you can guess, the smaller the fees in relation to the buy-in the better.
There's often a lot of variation in the size of SNG fees at the lower limits, where the fees can increase up to 20% or more. If you're not a micro stakes player then the size of the fees isn't going to be an issue for you. However, if you're a beginner or have a small bankroll, it's worth searching around for the best price (i.e. poker sites with the lowest fees for SNGs).
5) Basic SNG structure.
This is a non-issue these days, as the stack sizes and blind structures follow a fairly standardised format at the biggest SNG poker sites.
Back in the early days of online poker though the structures of SNGs at some sites were all over the place, and you could either end up with too much freedom to play (games took ages) or not enough (games were pure luck).
Thankfully, most poker rooms have now worked out what kind of structure works best. Although there are still subtle differences in the setups for the straightforward sit and go tournaments, the point is they are subtle and are not really worth worrying about.
Types of SNGs in online poker.
We all know how a simple sit and go works – you pay your entry fee, sit down with a bunch of other poker players and try and finish first. Easy.
Obviously some players felt that this wasn't quite exciting enough, so a number of variants to the humble SNG have been developed. Here's a quick guide to the most common types of SNG currently on offer.
The most common types.
These types of tournaments are available at all the best SNG poker sites. You can probably find them at the worst ones too.
1) Turbo tournaments
How they work: These are just like normal SNGs, except that there are fewer hands between blind levels. Therefore, these SNGs are over more quickly and involve a greater element of luck. There are a few different "degrees" of turbo tournament:
- Super Turbo
- Extreme Turbo
- Hyper Turbo
...and I'm sure there are a few more speedy-sounding names out there. As a rule of thumb, the "faster" it sounds, the fewer hands there are between blind level increases.
Pros: Fantastic if you fancy a faster-paced game. Fun and exciting.
Cons: The faster structure means that turbo tournaments are more luck than skill. If you're a good player you may want to stick with the standard SNGs.
How they work: You buy in for a set amount of money as usual. But instead of the top place prize(s) being a break up of the prize pool, the winner(s) gain entry in to an even bigger tournament with bigger cash prizes or tournament seats.
Pros: Opportunity to enter bigger tournaments for bigger prizes than you would normally be able to afford with your current bankroll.
Cool Story: Chris Moneymaker won his way to the 2003 WSOP through a $39 satellite and ended up winning the Main Event for a total of $2.5 million. Wikipedia has a nice summary of the Chris Moneymaker story. There's a book about it as well.
Cons: You need to get pretty lucky to win your way up to a big tournament through satellites. You then have to get even luckier again to place in that big tournament. Personally I'd rather play standard SNGs and save my winnings as I go along, then enter a bigger tournament if I fancy it (and can afford it).
Less common types of SNG.
These are the more "speciality" SNG games. They're not available everywhere and are usually unique to just the one poker site.
How they work: There are a set number of tournament "levels" or "steps". You can buy in at any step, but the cost of entry increases as you move up the steps. The twist is that you can only win money in the highest step SNG. If you start at a lower step than the top step SNG, you have to win that lower step SNG to move up to the next level (and so on).
I know, I know, you're probably scratching your head right now.
Think of steps tournaments as a pyramid. They are constantly running and you can join in at any level you like whenever you want. Only the top level SNG has cash payouts, whereas the others give you tokens to move up to the next level. The goal is to reach the top step and try and win some of the big buy-in prize pool money.
Pros: Opportunity to win big. Win a bunch of SNGs in succession and you can net a huge payout, especially if you start at one of the lower step SNGs.
Cons: Steps tournaments are kinda like fixed-structure satellites. So again, whilst you can win a heap of money if you get lucky, you do have to get lucky. Also, imagine working your way right to the top and busting out on the bubble – that's a smashed mouse and keyboard situation.
2) Double or Nothing
How they work: Standard SNG format with an even number of players (usually 10). However, the game is over once half of the players have been knocked out. The remaining players win double the amount of their buy-in.
Pros: Interesting variation on the standard 1st, 2nd and 3rd place payout structure. There's also more chance of winning something from these tournaments, which is always nice even if it's a smaller amount than usual.
Cons: You'll either love them or hate them. Maybe not quite on the same scale as marmite, but not far off. The biggest disappointing aspect is that you don't get the satisfying feeling of "winning", as you never truly come out on top – you're always sharing the top spots with other players.
These SNGs are also full of players that sit tight and hope to squeeze in to the money, never really getting involved or having fun.
3) Fifty 50
Only available at: PokerStars
How they work: Very similar to the Double or Nothing tournaments, except the payouts for the remaining 5 players is a little different. Instead of doubling up, the total prize pool is divvied up amongst the remaining players based on the stack sizes. The bigger your stack, the larger your slice of the prize pool.
Note: The Fifty 50 tournaments replaced the similar Double or Nothing tournaments at PokerStars. This was due to the Fifty 50's favourable payout structure. The DoN SNGs ended on the 28th of February 2011.
Pros: The dynamic payout structure of the Fifty 50 tournament makes it more interesting than its DoN cousin. There are more rewards for being active and building a large stack.
Cons: Again, you'll either love or hate this sort of format for single table tournaments. Although it's more rewarding to be active in Fifty50 tourneys, you still get the complete rocks playing 0.01% of hands.
Only available at: Full Tilt Poker
How they work: You are forced to play 4 SNGs simultaneously against the same 8 players across 4 tables. The total prize pool is split up in to 5 parts; 4 chunks for the standard 1st, 2nd and 3rd payouts on each table, and 1 last chunk for 1st, 2nd and 3rd for overall performance.
It's a bit like multi-tabling 4 SNGs by yourself, except that you get rewarded for performing well thanks to your multi-tabling skills.
Pros: Lots of action. With 4 tables open at a time you won't be sitting and waiting for your next turn for long. Plus, you'll have a distinct advantage if you're up against players that are inexperienced when it comes to playing on multiple tables.
Cons: If you're abysmal at multi-tabling and multi-tasking in general, you're not going to do very well in Matrix tournaments. You have less time to focus as your attention will be divided across 4 poker tables. Not recommended if you haven't got some experience with online poker under your belt.
Sit and Go online poker sites FAQ.
Where can I play poker tournaments online for real money?
All of the poker sites in the table above allow you to play SNGs with other players for real money.
Every online poker room I've ever signed up with has offered real money sit and gos. So it's not really a case of where to play SNGs for cash; it's more like which site to play them at.
Which poker site has the smallest stakes SNGs?
One of the sites with the smallest stakes SNGs I've come across is Betsafe Poker. Their smallest buy-in regular sit and go tournaments start at $0.10+1c.
In general, the lowest level STTs at the vast majority of poker sites start at around $1. This is like the industry-standard minimum, although I'm fully aware that some rooms go lower. I've included the minimum stakes SNGs on offer at each room in the table at the top of this page.
If you have a small bankroll, you should check out my rankings of the best poker sites for small stakes players.
Do all poker sites offer SNGs?
Sit and Go tournaments are hugely popular. A poker room without a SNG lobby would be like a butchers without beef. You could sign up to any random online poker room and be 99.9999% sure that they have them.
SNGs that is, not beef fillets.
How much can you win from sit and go's?
You could be asking two different things with this question, so I'll address them individually:
- How much can you win from one SNG?
- How much can you win from playing SNGs in general?
1) How much can you win from one SNG?
The payout structure for a standard 9-seater STT is as follows:
- 1st = 50%
- 2nd = 30%
- 3rd = 20%
So if there are 9 players in a $10 + $1 SNG, the total prize pool would be $90 (tournament fees do not count toward the total prize pool). Therefore, actual winnings for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place would look like this:
- 1st = $45
- 2nd = $27
- 3rd = $18
2) How much can you win from playing SNGs in general?
This depends on two things:
- How good you are at playing SNGs.
- How many you play.
You can't win every SNG you play, so the aim is to get a positive ROI. If you can get a positive ROI, it's just a case of how many tournaments you play.
To give a quick example, let's say you have a 5% ROI playing $10 + $1 SNGs. If you play 20 of these a day, you could comfortably "earn" over $300 a month. Not bad.
Can you consistently win money from SNGs?
Yep, and there are a number of players that make a very comfortable living from playing SNGs online. You just have to learn good tournament strategy and be able to outplay your opponents.
If I could explain how to do this from just a few paragraphs within an FAQ I'd be the most loved man in online poker. However, there is a lot to learn if you want to be able to "beat" sit and gos for a profit. It takes both time and effort.
If you're really interested in winning money from SNGs, check out my friend Mark's Sit 'n' Go poker strategy site. It's the perfect starting point for beginners.
Go back to the Texas Hold'em rooms.