Turbo Tournaments Article

With the ever-expanding popularity of online poker, there are now many different options a player has when looking to play in a tournament. Every site I play on has what are called sit-and-go tournaments, where you can play almost instantly with a group of strangers from around the world. There are also many variations of regularly scheduled tournaments, where play starts at a certain time. For players like me, who try to squeeze in a tourney in as little time as possible, sit-and-gos (SNG) are the way to go.

A SNG can be played on one table, with 9 or 10 players, or you can play multi-table SNG's with as many as 180 players involved on the site I frequent. Usually a one-table SNG is going to take you about 60-90 minutes to play if the blinds are rising at a normal 10-minute interval. In the last year or two, however, the sites have added a new type of SNG, called a speed or turbo tournament, where the blinds go up much quicker. Usually the blinds go up every 5 minutes in this type of tourney, but I've seen some sites that have the blinds go up as often as every 10 hands.

Obviously, with the blinds moving up at such a rapid pace, it is going to affect the type of strategy you should use when playing them. A one-table SNG turbo tourney generally only takes from 40-50 minutes to play, so you can see things move much more quickly.

With the blinds moving as they do, you can't play a patient game and wait for premium hands like AA and KK. If you sit and wait for too long you're going to get blinded out because things move quicker. You do still have to play fairly tight and play good hands, but you can't be super-tight. I'm not advocating you start going all-in right off the bat, but you need to try to accumulate chips in a much quicker fashion, and you won't be able to do that unless you get in the mix.

In past articles I've talked about how to manage both big and small stacks, but in turbo SNG you really need to use your big stack as a bludgeon. Those blinds move up so quickly that people are going to feel pressured to make a play they probably shouldn't. That's why accumulating chips quickly is so important -- you can start to take advantage later on. When you end up as a short stack in a turbo SNG it is very difficult, because you have less time to decide when to make your move and try to double up. If I have less than 10 times the big blind in a turbo, I'll go all-in with whatever hand I play. I wouldn't be that loose in a regular tourney, but you need to get out of that short-stack status as quickly as you can in a turbo.

One advantage that the turbo SNG's do have is the skill level of the players is much worse overall. The average age of a poker player is much younger now than it used to be, and the turbo tourneys can be quite addicting due to the speed of play involved. They are ideal for the young player who is looking to get things moving. I see guys going all-in with almost anything at any time and almost always they project themselves as a younger player. Of course, anyone can be anything online, but with they way they chat and/or the image they choose to represent themselves, you can tell they're younger. Now I'm not an old man (just hit 40), but I've learned a few things and one of them is patience is indeed a virtue.

Personally, I don't like to play in turbo tournaments if I have a choice, because I feel I'm a better player than most of the people I play against and I like to have the time to prove it. I play a tight-aggressive style, meaning I don't play anything but premium hands unless I'm in good position, and when I do play, I always play like I have the best hand. The problem with playing that way in a turbo tourney is I'm folding tons of hands and I get blinded off if I don't catch good hole cards in the early rounds.

The only time I'll normally play a turbo is if I'm itching to play, and I know I don't have 90 minutes to spend. My overall win rate is much better in regular tournaments, but if I catch good cards early I usually do really well in turbos. What will happen is I'll end up winning them because I got a lot of chips early and force people into bad decisions, or I'll bust out early because I got short and tried to double up quickly. I'll finish in the money a much larger percentage of the time in a regular tournament since I'm more patient than the average player, but if you can get ahead early, there is plenty of money to be made in turbos if you know how to manage your stack size. Best of luck!
Chris Goudey

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