SNG bankroll management is a skill just like understanding equity or pot odds. Once you have read through the general poker bankroll principles here, it’s time to move on to more specific strategies to help with sustaining and building a SNG bankroll. SNGs are small poker tournaments and are a good way to build up a poker bankroll. Unlike multi-table tournaments (MTTs) which have scheduled times, SNG tournaments begin as soon as enough players fill the game. This allows for games to run faster and be available virtually on-demand.
SNG Bankroll Building Guidelines.
- Plan what site/s and games are going to be the best for you.
- Don’t use more than 2% of your bankroll on a standard SNG
- Be ready to move up and down in stakes according to your bankroll and skill level.
- Maintain discipline and focus, don’t get stubborn or tilt. Remember poker is a life-long game!
Types of SNGs
There’s a variety of SNG types. Everything from Heads-Up SNG’s (HUSNG) to Fifty50 or Double or Nothing Tournaments (DON) where 50% of the field make the money. The key is to understand the type of SNG you are going to focus on and consider how it might subtly differ from a regular SNG. For example, Pokerstars Fifty 50 SNGs end when there are 5 of the original 10 entrants left. At this point, half of the prize pool is paid out to the winners. The remaining half of the prize pool is paid according to the number of chips each player has when the game ends. This gives players an incentive to accumulate chips. Furthermore, the introduction of antes to play, usually at around the 40/80 blind level, makes it less rewarding to try and fold into the money.
Be sure to consider all the options when starting out with SNGs. It’s nice to have a favourite format but it doesn’t always mean it’s going to be the most profitable. Test the waters and try to get a feel for which games have the most recreational players and will likely allow for faster bankroll building and sustainable success.
When determining game type, here’s some important considerations:
- Games where more players get paid will reduce variance since you’ll be cashing more often
- SNG games require multi-tabling to maintain a rewarding regular income
- Since building a bankroll from SNGs requires volume, both rake and bonuses are a factor
- Faster format (turbos and hyper) games may allow players to play more games, but result in a low skill edge
If you have a smaller bankroll to work with or have a low tolerance level to variance, Fifty50 or DON games could be a good option to ensure steady bankroll building with less risk of going bust (TopPokerValue have a great article avoiding going bust which you can find here). Whatever a players game of choice is, it’s important to be able to multi-table since SNG edges are usually small. Although there’s still plenty of recreational players involved, there’s also a lot of regulars claiming their piece of the pie. ROI (return on investment) often only ranges from 1-10% for winning SNG players, unlike MTTs where strong players can hold a huge edge over the field (but still face higher variance due to the sheer number of players to beat).
However even break-even SNG players sometimes make a lot of money from SNGs. With the ability to quickly make good decisions, multi-tabling and putting in high volume often allows players to make a living purely from bonuses alone ,rather than from winning on the table. This highlights how important it is to be aware of both the bonuses your eligible to receive (pokerstars VIP calculator), and how the rake may effect your ROI. Since SNG players generally have low ROIs, small changes in rake can have a noticeable effect (pokerstars rake rate).
Get the Skill to Win
Once you have settled on a site to play, found a game or game types you feel you have, or can develop an edge in, push yourself to get the ability to crush your opponents and move up in stakes. The learning curve for SNG play generally isn’t as steep as it is for other games given the nature of the play. Many decisions are preflop and especially at the later stages of a game, the action is often all-in or fold. However this does place a tremendous amount of emphasis on understanding how the payout structure effects strategy, a skill not necessary in cash games.
In cash games the dollar value of chips you have in front of you is 1-for-1, if you have $10 in chips then they are worth $10. In a SNG tournament the value of your chips will change as the tournament progresses. As opponents bust out and chips change hands your average equity in the prize pool increases. Basically because as players bust you have a greater chance of reaching the money. This often makes calls that were correct at the early stage of play potentially huge mistakes in the later part of the game.
Here’s a couple of excellent videos provided by pokernerve.com to assist with understanding the importance of this principle, which as you’ll learn can be referred to as ICM (which will also lead into the concept of bubble factor, see the videos below for more which were taken from the highly recommended PokerNerve Road to Success Tournament Poker Course).