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StrategySit & Go

How to Play Double or Nothing Tournaments


In this article
  • Advantages and disadvantages of DoNs
  • The phases of a DoN
  • How to win DoNs

Unlike classic Sit and Go (SnG) and multi-table tournaments, DoNs do not have a scaled prize structure. You either get two buy-ins back, or nothing at all. They are kind of like qualifier tournaments, and are often played out in similar fashion. You don't have to be among the top three to be in the money; 5th place is as good as 1st in a 10 player DoN.

Survival is much more important than in a normal SnG. Having a big stack is certainly advantageous, but there's no extra payout for taking 1st place. All these factors make playing in DoNs easier on the one hand, but require adjustments to your basic game plan on the other.

This article will shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of DoNs. You will also be given a strategy to play them profitably. You will learn about the phases of a DoN and the differences between DoNs and SnGs.

Before you dive into this article, you should have a basic understanding of SnGs and how you play in the different phases of a tournament. You should also be familiar with the Independent Chip Model (ICM).

We also recommend that you reread the articles in the Beginner's Section and the Bronze Section. You should also have read the Silver article on the ICM.

Note: This article will deal solely with full-ring DoNs.

Advantages and disadvantages on DoNs

Like all variations of poker, DoNs have their own characteristics. The next section will discuss the advantages and disadvantages in DoNs and will help you decide whether you are better off playing DoNs or regular SnGs.

The advantages
  • You're in the money once you make 5th place, whereas you have to reach at least 3rd to to get paid in a SnG.
  • Simple, solid ABC poker is good enough for a payout. Most of your opponents will play too many hands and waste their chips. You sit tight and wait for good starting hands while your opponents knock each other out of the tournament.
  • DoNs can be a good way to build up your bankroll when you are new to poker. You will find a lot of poor players and can practice playing standard poker until you have enough money for other variations and higher limits.
  • DoNs are also great for beginners and multi-tablers. PokerStrategy teaches you to play tight, which keeps you from having to make many difficult decisions. Take things slow and observe your opponents when you first start playing poker. You will gain experience and confidence and can start playing several tournaments simultaneously.
The disadvantages
  • Rake can mean losing money in the long run, even when you break even in play.
  • Good players lose part of their edge, since they can't earn more money by taking 1st. Good SnG players should stick to regular SnGs.

That's not the entire article...

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Comments (14)

#1 TTT241, 17 Feb 09 18:14

I have question about BRM... I played DONs a lot on PokerStars ($5-$10 BI) and 50 BI seems to me very much.... because you are ITM about 56-58% of the time, your variability is much lower than in regular SNGs... whre you are ITM little over 35%...

With 56%+ ITM you are hardly ever down more than 7-8 BIs... so why not use just standard 30BI? I started play $5 BI little over 20 BIs.

#3 CRI4BRA, 18 Feb 09 23:59

where did you get 56-58% ?

seems like you dont discerning between variance and winning rate or put them together nuch more than they really are

remember that you're not the only one who knows what he's doing in a don tourney

i have 2 questions for your 20 buy in strategy
- what happens with your 56-58% when you take coinflips on m=10 with another equal stack
- what do you think about 20 buy in and 56-58% when you have something like 5m ,blinds are 200-400 or higher and 7 players are left?


#4 newsat, 21 Mar 09 02:30

Why does my share increase to 38.3% after push in "$5 SNG EV" chart ?

It must be 50%(accoring to the stack size) or 33.3% ?

#7 Smileyphil, 01 Sep 09 08:25

#5 and #6. Go play some poker. If you want it you gotta earn it.

#8 Skraggy, 10 Nov 09 11:39

*Agrees with Smileyphil*

Exactly what I'm doing and I will be silver before the end of this month :D

#9 Skraggy, 10 Nov 09 11:40

With about 95% of my points coming from playing DoN's :D

#10 Hahaownedlolz, 31 Dec 09 15:57

@5&6.. you can sign up to moneybookers and get silver for a month.. thats what i do :) so now im reading all the silver articles, before it runs out.. tomorrow :D im not tracked sadly, but i will be in the future.

#11 Koshburger, 10 Feb 10 02:31


#12 bbogdanmircea, 15 Oct 10 07:17

When will you post an article about Turbo DoN's?
For this type of tournaments you can apply a very simple strategy: play very tight in all phases, if no good cards until the late phase then try to go all in with some high value cards agains a short stack, if you win this coin flip you are usually ITM.

#13 gadget51, 22 Dec 10 20:19

@12 Agree. In high blind situations even the loose players will fold all but the nuts to a push. Play like a rock, steal the blinds twice when 6 or 7 handed and you usually make it without double up.

#14 MarianDragos, 23 Feb 11 14:12

Pokerstars is taking out SNG DON they are crazy freaking ideea with fity50
why they are not letting for people who like double or ntohing normal torunaments and force us to change platform or to play that fifty50

#15 Angelface21, 02 Jul 11 22:58

"Loose opponents will push with a wide range, tight opponents with a small range"

...This is not always the case cause tight agressive players will push loose against those to afraid to miss the price pool. In the higher sng's tight players call to tight and push to loose. the lower one push to tight call to loose.

My advise in double or nothing is actually only go all in or fold. There is not room to play poker because you gain to less by doing so. Therefore pushing and playing tight is far more ideal than trying to get busted with ak early on.

#16 toske1, 13 Mar 15 18:27

nice but niceeeeee

#17 filip212, 30 Nov 18 14:07

and what aboout ranges and strategy from Big Blind and Small blind in early/middle phase?