Turbo Poker Strategy

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Published: 30/12/2010

Poker tournaments can be quite time consuming. Those who survive to the final table may have to spend up to ten hours getting there. Those who fail to advance may have invested several hours with nothing to show for the efforts. That’s why many regular players prefer to play Turbo Poker, a variation of the standard Texas Hold’em Sit-n-Go tournament in which the blinds increase much more rapidly and the playing time is greatly reduced.

Turbo Tournament Structures

Stacks issued for Turbo Poker are similar in size to those used in regular tournament play, typically 75 times the big blind. For a 10/20 competition, 1,500 chips would be issued. The big difference is that instead of increasing the blinds every 15 minutes, they go up every three to five minutes, so full tournaments can be completed in just 20% to 33% as much time.

The two most common table formats for Turbo Poker Sit-n-Go tournaments are 18 entrants and 45 entrants, divided into tables of nine players each. In the 18-entrant version, three players advance from each first round table directly to the final table, where the blinds start at 75/150 or 100/200. Usually the top four places finish in the money and it takes only about 30 to 45 minutes from buy-in to prizes awarded.

The 45-entrant version differs in several respects. There is an intermediate round of two tables, from which the best eight advance to the final table, where the blinds will be 200/400. Those who end up in the top seven are usually eligible for payouts from the prize pool.

Larger Turbo Poker Tournaments are also organised for up to 500 entrants playing at a time on a strict schedule. These are usually satellite events for major tournaments with as many as one in five players advancing.

Varying Strategies

Because the blinds increase so quickly in Turbo Poker, fewer hands are played and there are not as many opportunities to catch premium cards. This entices many players to take a loose aggressive approach to the game in the opening round, which can actually favor those who stick to a tight style of play. At the final table, tight play is almost always the norm, at least until it is clear who is in the money. That’s when good players loosen up.

More important than being the chip leader in preliminary rounds is making the cut with sufficient chips to handle the quickly increasing blinds. In a two-round 18-entrant game, about 3,000 chips is the minimum required to have a good shot at finishing in the money. In the 18-entrant version, roughly double that amount is required.

For those playing in satellite qualifiers, all that is needed is to be among the top 20%, so size of chip stack is less important than survival. With that in mind, stealing blinds becomes an important aspect of strategy. They become large very quickly. It is often possible to win a seat in the next tournament without participating in any showdowns whatsoever, just by making a few well-timed raises.

Although patience is usually a virtue when playing Poker, it is less frequently rewarded when playing the Turbo version. One regular winner admitted that his strategy is to pay to see the flop every hand and move all-in whenever it falls in his direction. Another has said his strategy depends entirely on the opponents’ styles, favouring loose play at a tight table and tight play when facing a group of maniacs. The one aspect everyone seems to agree on is to avoid feeling pressured or rushed. Cool, calm nerves most often prevail at Turbo Poker tables.

Published on: 30/12/2010

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