While sit and go poker tournaments offer some of the easiest competition in the game (comparative to stakes), there is one thing that can hurt you in these poker games: losing streaks. For example, let’s say that you have a $180 bankroll, and you fail to cash in six straight $5.50 buy-in tournaments, place third in one, then fail to cash in another four straight SNG’s. At this point, your bankroll is hovering around $134, and you might seriously be considering dropping down in stakes.
Now you’re going to need to think about a few factors before dropping down. First off, it’s important to realize that a really good return on investment (ROI) at the $5 buy-in limit is 10%; if you’re a decent player, expect around a 5% ROI. In any case, you’re going to be looking at small edges, and losing streaks are bound to happen, so you can’t drop down in every instance.
Going further, by looking at our aforementioned bankroll example of $180, this is enough to cover 36 buy-ins. Now 36 buy-ins is better than 20, which is what most people try to start with; however, it’s a better idea to start with 50 buy-ins so you can survive the downswings that often happen in SNG’s.
The one obvious thing we haven’t discussed in all of this is that your skill level needs to be somewhat advanced – even for the $5 buy-in level. A good rule of thumb is to spend 80% of your time on the table, and the other 20% studying poker strategy. Sure it’s more fun to put all of your focus into making money on the tables, but you won’t improve much by avoiding the strategy altogether. In summary, try to have at least 50 buy-ins in your bankroll, and study strategy whenever you can.