One of the more recent developments in online poker has been the proliferation of lottery sit and go tournaments. These matches have a variable prize pool generally ranging from between two to ten thousand times your buy in. The prospect of sudden riches motivates recreational players to try their luck and their presence in turn draws the professionals. These tournaments are an excellent opportunity to practice your short handed play and experiment with different concepts with regards to blind offense and defense.
Poker is fundamentally a struggle for the blinds. Much of the focus of short handed play is attacking and defending these forced bets. A lot of your profit as a poker player is derived from proper play with regards to the blinds. One important principle for success in these tournaments is to raise with a wide range of hands from the button. You will want to be raising at least 40% of the hands you are dealt when you are on the button against two blinds and at least 70% of your hands when you have the button heads up. Later in the tournament, as the blinds become a higher % of your stack (when you have 12 big blinds or less), your best play is to simply open shove any hand that you choose to play, because taking down the blinds and the antes becomes so important.
Since most players do attack on the button with such a wide range of hands and because they often do so with a minimum raise, proper strategy from the big blind is to call liberally. This is because of your pot odds. Even without antes, if you are in the big blind and the button min raises and the small blind folds you will be betting better than 3:1 to continue. Even given your positional dis-advantage this is sufficient odds to call with virtually any hand. Because of the nature of the blinds, generally it is wise (against a button open) to play tight from the small blind and loose from the big blind. Of course, as in all forms of poker, you must study and adapt to your opponents’ play.
Early on in these tournaments, if you are employing the right strategies, you will end up in a lot of post flop situations with a lot of marginal holdings. Learning how to maximize your expectation with weaker hands is of great value to any poker player because of the high frequency that you end up in these situations. It really doesn’t matter how you play, for example, nut full house because this hand is so rare but if you can learn how to make more (or lose less!) money with middle pair this is something that will contribute greatly to your success. Study common situations carefully and think closely about what you are doing. Are you value betting too much or not enough? Do you give up too easily in certain spots? Review your play and study that of your opponents for more insight.
Here is a comparison of the various lottery SNG formats across various poker sites.
Blast Poker on 888
The various poker sites implement the lottery sit n’ goes in different fashions. With 888 poker this format is called ‘Blast Poker’. Blast poker is four handed and after six to eight minutes it forces everyone to auto all in. They also have prizes for second and third in the higher multiplier games. Blind levels are two minutes and they offer 10 cent, $1, $5, $15 and $30 buy in matches. The rake that the casino charges for hosting the tournament is anywhere from 6.67% to 9% of the buy in fee and varies by buy in level with the higher buy in blast SNGs generally paying a lower % of their buy in fee in rake. As is common in lottery sngs you are not allowed to make any sort of deals in Blast but instead must play it out.
Twister Sit N Go on iPoker
Different iPoker skins such as Bet365 or Titan Poker offer Twister Sit N Gos. Here the rake is a flat 7% for all buy in levels and the games are three handed. The maximum prize pool is 1000x your buy in level so a €10 game has a top prize of €10,000. You start with 500 chips and the blinds escalate every two minutes. The Twister SNGs have a slightly different weighting to the prize payouts in that the lowest level (2x your buy in) is more common that in other jackpot SNGs but the highest levels occur at a higher frequency. Over all this is pretty much a wash.
Spin N’ Go on Pokerstars
The popular Pokerstars Spin N’ Go SNGs have a prize pool ranging from 2x to 10,000x your buy in and take 5% to 8% rake depending on what level you play (higher stakes games take less rake). The format is winner take all, although the top three prize pool multipliers do also pay out the number two and number three players.
Sit N’ Go Hero
Party Poker’s version of the lottery SNG is Sit & Go Hero. This four handed format features the inclusion of a bounty and like the Spin & Go format the top prize is 10,000 times your buy in. The format is winner take all, aside from the bounty although like Pokerstars here the top level multipliers also pay second and third place. With the 10,000 times multiplier everyone gets some money. Here 5-8% of the buy in goes to pay the rake depending on what level you play (the higher you play the less % of the buyin goes to the rake). Party Poker has $.25, $1, $3, $7, $15, $30, $60 and $100 levels for the Sit & Go Hero format of poker.
Overall these lottery sit n’ go tournaments are an excellent way to practice your short handed play and good experience for people who are more used to a full ring format. Because they are such high variance you should use pretty conservative bankroll management.