By: Jason Lake
Do you remember the very first time you played online poker? Maybe you started with a cash game at the “micro” limits, with 1c/2c blinds. Maybe it was a freeroll tournament. In my case, it was a $1.10 sit-and-go. I didn't last very long, but it didn't cost me too much to get my feet wet. After playing about a dozen of these, I was beginning to feel like a poker pro.
As it turned out, there was a lot more to learn about no-limit Texas Hold'em. Who knew? If you're serious about getting better at poker, or if you're just trying to get a taste of the game and see how you feel about it, I can't recommend the sit-and-go format enough. It's a great way to start building your poker knowledge without putting yourself at too much risk.
Table for 6
Generally speaking, tournament poker is easier to figure out than cash poker. The pace of the game is slower, there are fewer and less complex decisions to be made, and you go into the event knowing you won't lose anything more than your buy-in. But tournaments can also take a lot of time, especially if you're deep-stacked and playing in a large field where the blinds go up slowly.
The sit-and-go makes the time aspect a lot more manageable. You can play in fields as small as one 6-max table, which should take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to crown a winner. And since there are only six people at the table, you have even fewer decisions to make. It's an ideal format if you want to get used to the basics of poker; you'll be exposed to the same situations over and over again, and repetition is the key to learning. Let me say that again: Repetition is the key to learning.
Your Results May Vary
If you're a bit further along in your poker journey, the sit-and-go can also be the key to developing a wider array of skills while building a bankroll. Players who stick with cash poker at 100BB buy-ins often get stuck in their development – they're not used to playing with different stack sizes. With the sit-and-go, you'll always be working with different stacks. You'll learn when you should go all-in from each position against various types of players. And you'll be better prepared for dealing with short-stackers when you go back to the cash tables.
Because the fields are smaller in the sit-and-go format, the profit margins are smaller with these games than they would be with larger tournaments, but the risk is lower as well. Once you get used to it, you can play up to the maximum of four tables at the same time without getting overwhelmed by all the decisions you have to make. Consider starting here if you want to build a bankroll with less variance, and less stress on your poker brain.