If playing poker at full speed ahead is what really floats your boat then you will absolutely love Turbo SNG’s. These are ultra-fast paced tournaments with rapid blind escalations and quick eliminations. Many players who are new to this form of poker come into them with strategies that are more suitable to longer SNG’s with slower time frames. In this article we will be looking at the strategy differences between the two which should hopefully get you an edge the next time that you sit down to play in them.
Turbo SNG’s are usually split into two types and they are either six max Turbo SNG’s or full ring Turbo’s. The blind levels in these tournaments are very quick and a typical Turbo SNG blind level lasts three minutes. It is therefore very good strategy to make your decisions as fast as possible as there isn’t really an awful lot of time left to think. So if you are slow in making your decisions not only are you hurting yourself but you are hurting your opponents as well. However deliberately stalling during the higher blind stage is often a good strategy.
Play during the early stages is remarkably similar to early stage play during conventional SNG’s and so players who are experienced at that form of poker will not need to make too many adjustments to play Turbo SNG’s during the early stages. You have more time than you think during this stage of play and you can fold all hands that are junk and be much more selective. In fact playing tightly during this phase of play could well give you a decided edge over those players that are under the impression that time is far more pressing than what it actually is.
Middle stage play
Once again just like in conventional SNG’s middle stage play is where you will need to start taking more risks. You will need to forget all of the usual conventional poker wisdom, you are not playing showdown poker here and you need to maintain your stack and your position in the tournament with carefully timed aggressive bets and raises. The blind to stack ratio will shift dramatically during the middle stages and if you do not take calculated risks to amass some chips then you will find that your stack will quickly become critical within a very short space of time.
This is what you need to avoid but you need to pick your spots carefully. Fold equity is the key here and not going to showdown. Remember that shoving all-in gives you two chances to win. Your opponent can fold and you can win the pot pre-flop or they can call and you can win at the showdown. But calling an all-in only gives you one chance to win and so you need a very strong hand to get involved with when you know or suspect that the hand will reach a showdown. The only exception to this rule is if your stack or your opponents stack has reached a critical level.
Late stages of play
As you reach the later stages and the bubble your range of playable hands needs to increase as more and more players are eliminated. This is for the simple reason that there are fewer opponents to oppose you with callable or raising hands and they are more likely to tighten their play anyway as they near the cash seats.
Remember that position and timing are the two important factors here. You are looking to be as aggressive as possible within the boundaries of what you can do. As was noted before you are not looking for showdowns even with strong hands like A-Q if you can avoid it. If you can steal your way into a final three position and then play for the win then you have done very well in a Turbo SNG.
You must also pay attention to the dynamics of the game as well when you are on the bubble or when only 4-5 players are left. If you happen to be one of the big stacks then you are missing a trick here if you go into your shell. Bet and raise and simply put pressure on the smaller stacks and don’t give them a free ride. This is your chance to build a tournament winning stack rather than allowing fear to overtake you at this crucial stage and going into the final three way action third in chips when you could have been a huge chip leader.
Look to bully mediocre stacks but desperately low stacks will call you more often and so be careful raising their blinds. Likewise if you are the short stack and you need to survive. Look to push all-in on the medium sized stacks rather than the tournament leader if you possibly can.
Written by: Carl “The Dean” Sampson