Top Five Poker Sites for SNG's
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2009-05-17, by OzoneSit-'n'-go (SNG) tournaments are a popular form of online poker. As the name suggests, the tournament starts once every seat has been purchased. SNGs can be played in single-table and multi-table form. Single-table SNGs have 10 players or less. A common form of single-table SNGs are "heads-up" tournaments where just two players battle in a winner-take-all format. Multi-table SNGs can have dozens of players where the winner stands to receive as much as 50x their buy-in back. Over the years, online poker rooms have gotten a lot more creative with their SNG offerings. The latest SNG fad are ultra short-stack tournaments where players start with 100 chips. These tournaments compromise how much one's skill matters. They are basically just an extravagant coin-flip. Some sites offer a lot of variety with their SNGs while others offer quite a bit less. Here are the current top five places to enjoy playing online SNG tournaments:
#1 Mansion Poker
Mansion Poker is on the very large iPoker network. In general, the larger the network, the better the SNGs. Many players like to play more than one SNG at a time, so it's best to play on a network where tournaments are regularly reaching their requisite number of players. Players should have no problem getting immediate action at buy-ins ranging from $1 up to $50, especially during peak hours. Mansion Poker also offers a one-of-a-kind jackpot promotion with some of their SNGs. There are three different tiers of jackpot SNGs where if players win six of them in a row, they receive a large jackpot. While this sounds appealing, Mansion makes up for the cost of the jackpot, and then some, by taking a very large entry fee in these tournaments. The largest SNG jackpot is $50,000 which requires players to win six consecutive $50+$9 tournaments. Customarily, the entry fee in a $50 SNG is $5, so you're essentially paying an extra $4 towards the jackpot in each tournament. Lastly, while winning six consecutive tournaments might not sound that insurmountable, rest assured that it's close to impossible. As a general rule of thumb, the more gimmicks and fireworks surrounding a SNG, the more you're probably being ripped off as a player.
#2 Party Poker
Like Mansion Poker, Party Poker's SNGs are fantastic thanks to a very large network of players. For years, Party Poker was by far the #1 place to play SNGs online. However, over the past several months, they've slowly lost market share to the iPoker Network and now there's not quite as much action as there used to be. Still, it's hard to go wrong with Party Poker's SNGs.
One blemish on Party Poker's SNG resume is their 'Steps' tournaments. These events offer players the chance to turn $3 into $2,000 via a five-tiered SNG ladder. The idea is that you play a $3 buy-in 'Step One' SNG where the top finishers receive entry to the $10 buy-in 'Step Two' SNG. This formula leads up to the pinnacle, 'Step Five', a $500 buy-in, where only cash prizes are awarded. The winner of a 'Step Five' tournament receives $2,000 and second through fifth receive a prize as well. Although not many people have the bankroll for it, buying in directly to the 'Step Five' tournaments are great value. Not only are they filled with fishy players who have luckboxed their way up from $3, but the event also pays out the top five spots which reduces variance.
So what's the catch? The problem with Party Poker's Steps SNG tournaments are that the only prizes in the first four tiers are entry into another Steps tournament. This means that you pay an entry fee to enter the tournament, and then pay it again and again and again as you win tickets to other tournaments. The Steps tournaments are great for Party Poker. They keep people grinding away endlessly while slowly bleeding them of their bankroll via entry fees.
Another quick word of caution about Party Poker's SNGs is that it is best to avoid tournaments with a buy-in under $10. Party Poker charges a very high entry fee relative to the buy-in for the $6 events (and below).
#3: Everest Poker
Everest Poker is a very solid place to play SNG tournaments. What they lack in a ginormous player base, they make up for with high-value tournaments that come no strings attached. Everest Poker is the best place for micro-stakes players to enjoy SNGs. In fact, players can build a bankroll from absolutely nothing by participating in SNGs at Everest that have a prize pool of $0.10 and require no entry fee. It doesn't take much success in those events before one can dive into the real-money action since Everest offers buy-ins of $0.05, $0.11, and $0.27. A major downside of Everest is that there isn't usually much action beyond the $10 buy-in games.
A member of the OnGame Network, bwin has great SNGs at peak hours. However, since this network isn't as big as it once used to be, it's hard to play multiple SNGs simultaneously at this site. An upside to bwin is that their software is very fast. Fast software benefits a site's SNGs in a big way. The faster you can play hands, the more you can exploit an edge over weaker opponents. Of course, the opposite is also true; if you're bad at poker, fast software will make it easier for the sharks to bleed you of your money. Before jumping into the SNGs at bwin, read up on our SNG strategy articles to make sure you're on the right side of the win-lose spectrum.
SNG tournaments at PKR are great for casual-minded players. If your interest in SNGs is rooted in grinding out an income, PKR is not for you. However, for players just looking to have a good time playing online poker, PKR is an awesome online poker room. This is the only online poker room with 3-D software. The gameplay at PKR is as advanced as a video game. Since this is still a fairly small site, the SNG action is pretty limited. However, once you get into a game, there isn't much of a better place to enjoy playing SNG tournaments on the internet. The competition is generally pretty weak and the 3-D graphics make for a unique poker experience!
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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