Turbo STT guide

ChuckTs

ChuckTs

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This article was going to be a joint thing with me and Chris, but it seems that he didn't complete his part in time and mischman's an impatient bugger, so here's my rushed article:

Turbo tournaments require a pretty large adjustment to your play; mostly for the reason that the blinds raise at a much higher frequency when compared to regular-speed games. You'll be faced with many low-M (stack size to initial pot size ratio) situations, and will be doing a lot of pushing.

Early Stages (before 50/100):

In the early stages, play a standard tight-aggressive style. You should not be doing any limping or drawing unless you get a free look from the BB and flop a monster draw. Save your chips for the later stages when you will need them as the blinds start chipping away at your stack. Our main goals for this stage of the game is to collect as many chips as possible when we pick up big pairs, and to conserve as many chips as possible with the lesser hands. We don't want to be seeing flops with small pairs or suited connectors; nor do we want to be playing marginal hands like AT or KQ. All they add up to is trouble for us. We can still raise our big aces like AJ+ preflop, but we want to make sure we have position so that our decisions postflop become a lot easier for us. Most players will call down with anything better than middle pair, aswell as any flush or straight draws, so we want to make sure we're not betting with AK unimproved postflop on, say for example, a 2-9-T-8 board if we're getting callers.

By playing so tight early on, not only will we keep out of trouble and get great double-up opportunities, but we'll also be advertising this image for use in the later stages when it can really help us. Players will pick up on this, and should give us respect when we start to loosen up and start getting aggressive.

So in short, bet your big hands hard, and save your chips by folding marginal hands like KQ and AT. Don't get too involved with AK or AQ since most of the time you'll have missed the board and will be continuation betting against loose players who will most likely call you down with any type of a hand or draw.

Middle stages (50/100 to 200/400):

The number of players should have diminished by this point, and you'll most probably be shorthanded at this point (7-2 players left). The average stack size should also be approaching or may have already reached the 15 or 10 BB line. This is when we use that tight-aggressive style we've been advertising the first half of the SnG and start stealing blinds - preferrably from the tighter players. We should be loosening up our starting hand requirements for raises, but not for calling. At this point (and really throughout the whole SnG) we should be in raise or fold mode; rarely, if ever, calling any bets preflop or postflop. Most of the time your stack will actually be so small compared to the blinds that you should be pushing instead of making a standard raise. Fold equity is the name of the game.

For example:

The game has reached 6-handed play with the blinds at 100/200, it's folded to you in the CO with A9 and you're sitting on 1100 chips.

Instead of making a standard three big blind raise at this point, you should stick all your chips in. By doing this, some great things can happen. We make some better hands fold (like small pairs, and maybe even AT if we're facing a particularly tight player), and we can also make a lot of marginal hands fold that we would only be a %60 favourite over (like KQ etc). Once in a while you may even get a looser player to call with a hand that you have dominated, like A8 and under which would be a great result. Of course sometimes we run into bigger hands like big pairs or bigger aces, but that only happens so often and the times we push and win the blinds more than makes up for the times we go bust because we run into one of these hands. Don't forget that we can also outdraw big hands like KK; A9 is only about a 2.5:1 underdog to KK. Anyways this is what separates a regular tournament from a turbo; the fact that you're faced with so many of these push or fold situations due to the size of the blinds rising so frequently.

So get increasingly aggressive at this point, and widen your starting hand range to include more aces and pairs. We are doing some blind stealing, and adding bit by bit to our stack to keep up with the blinds getting so high.

The Bubble:

Most STTs pay to 3rd place; when the table reaches 4 or 5-handed, this is really when your aggression should start skyrocketing. Most players, especially the medium stacks, will be trying to fold into the money - and we're going to take advantage of this. The ideal target for blind stealing would be a medium-sized stack who has been playing tight and passive; one who won't get involved with you without a big pair or AK. The opposite of course being a loose-aggressive big or short stack who loves to see flops and play back at you with any hand. Stack size is important in choosing from whom you want to steal. The big stacks will most likely have enough chips not to mind calling a small all in raise with any marginal hand, and small stacks are looking to double up as soon as possible, so these are the worst targets for a blind steal as they goth have wider calling ranges. A medium stack, however, is sitting healthy enough with chips not to warrant making any crazy calls since he's got enough to keep him in the game for a few orbits, and we're going to target them specifically for blind steals.

Chris wrote an excellent article on blind stealing which should definitely help in this area: https://www.cardschat.com/blind-stealing.php

Often times you'll find yourself absolutely card dead at just the wrong time. There's really nothing you can do about this, except to make sure that you don't let your stack dwindle down to an amount where we have no fold equity. We want to make sure that even though we may be getting hands like Q2, 53, J6 etc, we still have to get our money in. Most of the time you will take the blinds down with a 10BB push, so even if you're getting absolute trash with regards to starting hands, you have to make sure you don't let the blinds eat up your stack. Even if you end up pushing with a lowly 75 and run into AK, you're still not even that big of an underdog - you'd still only be a 1.7:1 underdog (or %37 to win). So just to reiterate, it's very important that you don't let yourself dwindle down to less than 5BBs or even 10BBs to be safe. If you do, you've all but thrown your chances at a win out the window, and will need a whole lot of luck to come back and win it. The bubble is most definitely the key stage in STTs, probably more so in turbos since having a big stack can be such a huge advantage.

So in summary, at the bubble we should be getting really, but not overly, aggressive and stealing blinds from the medium stacks and the tighter players. Don't be afraid of going out in 4th; it's much better to go out 4th a few times and win a bunch more rather than squeek into 3rd place every time.

Late stages:

Now we're in the money, and blinds are getting huge - usually around 200/400 and up. Most players are shortstacked at this point; we should still playing very aggressively, and fighting for the chip lead. In essence, the shorter the table gets, the more aggressive we should get. We should be raising the blinds at any chance possible when we hold even the most marginal of hands, including QT, K8, A5, 33 etc. As we reach heads-up play, we should be playing most of our hands containing facecards, and getting very aggressive. Harrington himself alludes to Thomas Hobbes' quote describing pre-civilized life as "Nasty, brutish and short", saying he might aswell have been describing heads up play in poker. Most of the time your opponent will be playing too tight, and you should be taking advantage of this. Get your money in with any reasonable hand, and postflop any part of the flop you hit will generally be good enough to get all in with considering how fast the blinds rise.

I wrote a heads-up article a while back which goes into more depth and should help: https://www.cardschat.com/heads-up-strategy.php


Sorry if there are typos or poor grammar; like I said I rushed this, and I hope it all makes sense :)
Would have loved to read your take on turbos, Chris. You've got 10000000X more experience than me in them, and you should still finish your part so we can get this thing in the articles section.

-ChuckTs
 
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pokerrqueenn

pokerrqueenn

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thanks chuck!! i love your helpful articles +rep.
 
M

mischman

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Thanks, much rep.
 
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NineLions

NineLions

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Thanks Chuck.

I only tried 2, started card dead in both and then got eaten by the blinds. By your account I didn't adjust fast enough, so I'll keep that in mind.
 
ChuckTs

ChuckTs

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Meant to make a vid for this when I wrote it, but tbh couldn't find one to commentate on where I didn't actually suck out or make some weird play on the way to a 1st or 2nd.

Anyways finally got one done and thought I'd throw it in along with the article to kind of demonstrate the strategy I wrote about. Audio may be crappy due to crappy mic, but nothin i can do about that.

Hope it helps illustrate the strategy some.

[dead link removed~tb]
 
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12skin

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I am playing the 1$ tables and am finding that i have 6 players at least still in while the blinds are 500. I play real tight in the beginning. Seeing few hands and going mad at the pot when i have good cards. This usually yeilds me around 5000 chips and chip leader position. But then something happens. I want to hold onto my chip lead, and they must be able to sense this. cause then the crap cards come.

I try to bust out some big bets with crap hands but no one believes me - no one folds, and I end up losing 1000 or so, having to fold and my credibility shot, then it just keeps sliding downhill from there where it is a real struggle just to break the bubble. If i end up in the top 3, one guy has taken the chip lead and I am usually short stack that gets dwindled down and eventually out when I am forced to make an all-in move with undercards because it is my last chance.

Alternately, if I keep pushing the blinds I lose my chip stack to callstations, and more agressive players. Or I get put all in and I call with decent cards and lose while the short stack slides right into the bubble.

Then if i try to wait the short stack until he is blinded out, either he catches and doubles up, or they all fold to him and he pretty much still doubles and is back in the game.

I find the more I learn about poker the harder it becomes.
 
Egon Towst

Egon Towst

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I find the more I learn about poker the harder it becomes.


You know, there`s a lot of truth in that. To play well needs a seat-of-the-pants feel for the game as well as theoretical knowledge.

The great trick to improving your game is to absorb and profit from new theory without losing your instinct for the unwritten subtleties.

Still, if it was easy we wouldn`t find it so interesting, would we ? ;)
 
PokerPete

PokerPete

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Wow! Thanks...I can clearly see why my normal SnG style gets killed in Turbo SnG's...I'm usually the medium stack, trying to "fold into the money" and end up short stacked and desperate.

+ rep :D
 
ChuckTs

ChuckTs

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What else do you want to know about? Please let me know of anything I might have missed or didn't elaborate on enough.
 
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bw07507

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I just watched the video a minute ago, great job and I learned a lot from it. I dont really play turbos, but I might give them a try and implement your strategy. Very nice tutorial.
 
skoldpadda

skoldpadda

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"Don't be afraid of going out in 4th; it's much better to go out 4th a few times and win a bunch more rather than squeek into 3rd place every time."

Could not agree with you more, Chuck! So many people play for 3rd, but I think it's better to risk it for 1st. If you get first just twice out of ten tries with no other finishes, you will break about even. For the same break even point with 3rd you would need to place 3rd 5 times, given a typical 50/30/20 structure.
 
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