Which Site has the Best Sit-N-Go for You?
by Texter

Which site has the best Sit-N-Go (SNG) for your style of play? On the surface all the sites look the same and therefore should play the same, right? Not even close. Each site has a distinct personality and it's not that easy to find the one that will maximize your profit.

For those that don't know, a Sit-N-Go is a tournament that begins once the pre-set number of players have registered, the most popular style is the single-table, but more and more multi-table SNGs are popping up. Due to their popularity, this article focuses on the single-table version.

Like most of you, I have numerous accounts set up at all the major poker sites and play at the one where I'm trying to grind out a bonus. Unfortunately, Sit-N-Gos or One-Table tourneys either don't qualify for earning a bonus or they barely count at all. Due to them not counting toward bonuses, I really wasn't tied to any site for Sit-N-Gos; therefore, I decided to play a few $5 (SNGs) at each major site and see what the differences were and which site favored my relatively tight style. I chose $5 as the limit for two reasons:

1. They seem to be the most popular.
2. I'm very cheap.

All the sites had similar payout schedules 50% for 1st, 30% for 2nd, and 20% for third. I decided to also test how long it took an empty SNG to fill up at each site, which is important if you only get an hour for lunch.

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Ultimatebet.com

My first stop was Ultimatebet.com, this is one of the premier sites on the net and I really like their software, there are no needless frills and the deal comes out very quickly. Here is a summary of my tourneys there.

Buyin $5+$0.50 = not bad vig/rake (10%)
# of Players: 10
Payout: $25/$15/$10
Rounds: 10 Minutes
Starting Chips: $1,500
Starting Blinds: $10/$20T (Big Blind 1.33% of starting stack)
Fill up Time: 2 minutes

Overall the play at Ultimatebet was some of the tightest I saw with very little limping pre-flop. The tournaments on average lasted 9 rounds and took a relatively long 1 hour 25 minutes (110 hands). The blind structure went up pretty slowly as well:

Level/Blinds:
1 - 10/20
2 - 15/30
3 - 20/40
4 - 30/60
5 - 50/100
6 - 75/150
7 - 100/200
8 - 150/300
9 - 200/400
Rating:
Overall Ultimatebet's Sit-N-Gos favor the tight player. Especially in the later rounds after a few players have been eliminated. The 10 minute round is favorable over other sites that have 10 hand rounds. With less players at the table 10 hands can go pretty quickly. However, since the site was pretty "rockish" it's easier to steal blinds than some looser sites. Lizard Rating = **** (out of 5)




PartyPoker.com

My second stop was PartyPoker.com, this is the largest site on the net and I like the fact that you can get any game very quickly. The software is good and the deal comes out fast; however, their rake is higher than other sites and the games fill up so fast you sometimes get squeezed out. Here is a summary of my tourneys there.

Buyin $5+$1.00 = high vig/rake (20%)
# of Players: 10
Payout: $25/$15/$10
Rounds: 10 Hands
Starting Chips: $800
Starting Blinds: $10/$15T (Big Blind 1.88% of starting stack)
Fill up Time: 10 seconds (fastest of the bunch)

Overall the play at Party was pretty loose, there were at least 5 limpers in each hand and several very aggressive players (there were already 3 players gone by level 3 most of the time). The tournaments on average lasted 9 rounds and took a quick 54 minutes (83 hands). The blind structure went up pretty slowly at first but picked up speed as people got eliminated:

Level/Blinds:
1 - 10/15
2 - 15/30
3 - 25/50
4 - 50/100
5 - 75/150
6 - 100/200
7 - 150/300
8 - 200/400
9 - 250/500
Rating:
Overall PartyPoker's Sit-N-Gos favor a more aggressive style. Due to the 10 hand rounds, even the rockiest player in the world will have to loosen up at around the 4th level. If you can't adjust your game as the tourney goes into the later levels, this site isn't for you. It's pretty tough to steal blinds until the maniacs have gone bust. The 20% rake on the tourney's it also too high for me when other sites are much less expensive. Lizard Rating = ***



$30  buy-in for the Paradise Poker $50,000  Guaranteed Poker Tournament.

ParadisePoker.com

ParadisePoker is one of the oldest poker sites, and it shows, was next. This site must have one of the slowest deals on the internet. Due to my very short attention span caused by years and years of watching bad TV, I can't play on this site because the time each hand takes drives me crazy.

Buyin $5+$1.00 = high vig/rake (20%)
# of Players: 10
Payout: $25/$15/$10
Rounds: 10 Hands
Starting Chips: $1000
Starting Blinds: $5/$10T (Big Blind 1.00% of starting stack)
Fill up Time: 3 minutes

Overall the play at Paradise was very tight, it took forever to play out each hand and several rounds to eliminate the 3rd person. The tournaments on average lasted only 9 rounds and took a long 1 hour and 20 minutes (81 hands), but it seemed much longer. The blind structure was very slow at first but picked up at level 4:

Level/Blinds:
1 - 5/10
2 - 10/20
3 - 15/30
4 - 30/60
5 - 50/100
6 - 100/200
7 - 150/300
8 - 250/500
9 - 500/1000
Rating:
Paradise Poker's tourneys favor tight player who has the attention span of a PBS viewer. The 10 hand rounds favor looser play but the slowly rising blinds early end up favoring the rockiest of rocks who can wait out the action junkies. Also, the rake/vig is much too high.
Lizard Rating = **

Absolute Poker

AbsolutePoker.com

AbsolutePoker.com was next. For some reason, I do really well at this site but cannot stand playing their Sit-N-Gos. The site is too busy looking, the sound effects are annoying, and the players take forever to make decisions (this may be a function of the software or the players are possibly dumber than the average site). Also, they don't have $5 SNGs just $6, so they are busting my paltry budget for this story.

Buyin $6+$1.00 = high vig/rake (16.7%)
# of Players: 10
Payout: $27/$16.20/$10.80
Rounds: 10 Minutes
Starting Chips: $1500
Starting Blinds: $10/$15T (Big Blind 1.00% of starting stack)
Fill up Time: 6 minutes (slow as molasses)

Overall the play at Absolute was very loose, even looser than Party if you can believe it. One tourney, we lost 3 players in the first round. The tournaments on average lasted only 6 rounds and took a very fast 40 minutes (56 hands). The blind structure was pretty typical but they don't have a $75/$150 or $150/$300 level which speeds things along:

Level/Blinds:
1 - 10/15
2 - 15/25
3 - 25/50
4 - 50/100
5 - 100/200
6 - 200/400
Rating:
Overall Absolute Poker's tourneys favor a double up quick or lose style. The blinds start out slowly but by the time round 4 is over, you better have some ammunition to fight with or you're screwed. When level 6 rolls around there are only 34 big bets on the table. The 10 minute rounds favor the tight style but the aggressive blinds will force you to loosen up. My biggest pet peeve with the site is the slow deal and slow players, they both drive me nuts. Lizard Rating = **




PokerStars.com

PokerStars is known as being the site with the best tournaments on the net. PokerStars has the innovative time bank, which is a set amount of extra time stored for each player to use if needed to make tough decisions. This is a nice feature but seems to be used a little too much by some players and it slows down the tourneys.

Buyin $5+$0.50 = low vig/rake (10%)
# of Players: 9
Payout: $22.50/$13.50/$9
Rounds: 10 Minutes
Starting Chips: $1500
Starting Blinds: $10/$20T (Big Blind 1.33% of starting stack)
Fill up Time: 3 minutes

Overall the play at PokerStars was a blend of tight and loose players, due to the time bank each hand took longer than I would have liked. However, it only took until an average of round 2 to lose 3 players. The tournaments on average lasted only 6 rounds and took a quick 55 minutes (74 hands). The blind structure was typical:

Level/Blinds:
1 - 10/20
2 - 15/30
3 - 25/50
4 - 50/100
5 - 75/150
6 - 100/200
Rating:
PokerStars seems to favor the adaptable player since the tourneys were neither overly tight or overly loose. The players seem to have all read Harrington on Hold'em and play better than the other sites. The software was good and the deal fast but the players are tough, so only play there if you want to become a better player. Then take what you learned to another site.
Lizard Rating = ***



Bodog
.com

Bodog.com has some of the ugliest software in the business. However, the deal comes out quickly which is nice. Additionally, the players here appear to be the worst of the bunch and must have migrated over from Bodog's casino site.

Buyin $5+$0.50 = low vig/rake (10%)
# of Players: 9
Payout: $22.50/$13.50/$9.00
Rounds: 10 Hands
Starting Chips: $1000
Starting Blinds: $5/$10T (Big Blind 1.00% of starting stack)
Fill up Time: 2 minutes

Overall the play at Bodog was loose aggressive with several limpers before each flop and large pre-flop raises. The tournaments on average lasted 9 rounds and took a longish 1 hour and 15 minutes (86 hands). The blind structure was pretty slow through the first 5 levels and then started to speed up:

Level/Blinds:
1 - 5/10
2 - 10/20
3 - 15/30
4 - 30/60
5 - 50/100
6 - 100/200
7 - 150/300
8 - 250/500
9 - 400/800

Rating:
Bodog's blind structure favors tight play. The loose play of your opponents should allow a tight aggressive player to double up before the blinds start accelerating (due to the 10 hands per round). My biggest problem with the site is the lousy graphics.
Lizard Rating = ***

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TitanPoker.com

Titan Poker has great looking software and I like some of the differences they've put in (for example the players voice their intentions). The main problem with the site is the lack of players since the site is new and it can take awhile for a Sit-N-Go to fill up. Also, the $5 SNGs have extra vig on them since if you win 5 in a row you get a free trip to Maui.

Buyin $5+$0.75 = medium vig/rake (15%)
# of Players: 10
Payout: $25/$15/$10
Rounds: 7 minutes (fast)
Starting Chips: $1000
Starting Blinds: $5/$10T (Big Blind 1.00% of starting stack)
Fill up Time: 5 minutes (pretty slow)

Overall the play at Titan loose with several limpers before each flop and large pre-flop raises. The tournaments on average lasted 7 rounds and took a short 45 minutes (50 hands). The blind structure looks slow on the surface but due to the 7 minute rounds and no $15/$30 or $150/$300 round, they are pretty deceiving:

Level/Blinds:
1 - 5/10
2 - 10/20
3 - 20/40
4 - 30/60
5 - 50/100
6 - 100/200
7 - 200/400

Recommendation:
Titan favors the loose aggressive player who is not afraid to mix it up with less than premium cards. I am not one of these people, so I rarely play there. I do like the software a lot, but the fast structure leads to an allin fest much too quickly for my taste.
Lizard Rating = **




FullTiltPoker.com

Full Tilt has great looking software, if you enjoy the cartoon network, and the deal is very quick. You can also sometimes play with a "big name" pro like Rafe Furst or Perry Friedman (just kidding, they do have real big name pro's along with these two Tiltboys). Why anyone wants to play with a big name pro, I'll never know. I think I have a better chance to cash against bunch of drunken schlubs.

Buyin $5+$0.50 = low vig/rake (10%)
# of Players: 9
Payout: $22.50/$13.50/$9
Rounds: 6 minutes (the fastest)
Starting Chips: $1500
Starting Blinds: $15/$30T (Big Blind 2.00% of starting stack - highest)
Fill up Time: 1 minute

Overall the play at Full Tilt is very solid. People seem to play only good starting hands and it took until level 7 to get rid of 3 players. The tournaments on average lasted 12 rounds and took a longish 1 hour and 10 minutes (62 hands). The blind structure seems fast due to the 6 minute rounds, but the blinds for each round increase more slowly than other sites:

Level/Blinds:
1 - 15/30
2 - 20/40
3 - 25/50
4 - 30/60
5 - 40/80
6 - 50/100
7 - 60/120
8 - 80/160
9 - 100/200
10 - 120/240
11 - 150/300
12 - 200/400

Recommendation:
Full Tilt is full of solid players who seem to wait on good cards. The best strategy I've found is to be very aggressive in late position and steal the blinds as much as possible, if called go ahead and make a continuation bet on the flop to get the rock to fold. The structure seems ideal for patient players since the blind amounts go up very slowly, but a creative aggressive player will be able to rob them blind both before and after the flop. Lizard Rating = ***

Overall, Ultimatebet.com takes first place in my ratings. The software is clean, the deal is fast and there is plenty of time to make some moves. However, I rarely play there since the players are pretty tough and it's hard to make good money.

Before I played at all the sites, most of my Sit-N-Gos were played at Ultimatebet.com; however, for my personal style, the easiest place to make money during this test was Absolute, I know that sounds counter to my description of the site (double up fast due to aggressive players) but the players are so aggressive it's easy for a tight player to double up.

In my opinion if you're a tight player who likes to wait until the blinds are big enough to steal, stick with sites that play by the minute, this allows you to be a little more patient as players get eliminated. If you are an aggressive good short-handed player you should stick with the sites that play a set number of hands per blind level. This will allow you to put pressure on the tight players as the blinds rapidly move up.

Also, you should stick to the sites with the lowest vig/rake, unless you don't like money.

Think about your style and how it fits with the Sit-N-Go structure at the site you like to play, otherwise you're costing yourself money.

 

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