Poker tips: How to play turbo tournaments and Spin and Go

Poker turbo turniere strategieThese over-caffeinated events have become a fixture at most online poker sites. A “turbo” is a poker tournament where the blinds go up extremely fast — usually every five minutes, though sometimes they’ll go up as quickly as every three minutes. With the new Jackpot poker games like “Spin & Go” (PokerStars) or “Twister” (iPoker) the turbo games have become even more important. Time to take a look at some strategies on how to play profitable at turbo tournaments and jackpot Sit & Goes.

The entire tourney is handled in such a way to make it move along quickly, and the end result is that a turbo event will be finished in about 50-75 percent of the time that it would take to play a regular tournament. Turbos come in all shapes and sizes — multi-table events, sit-n-gos, and satellites.  In an impatient society that places such a high value on speed, it shouldn’t be surprising that turbo tournaments have become extremely popular. It also follows that the turbo’s lightning-fast blind structure has a dramatic impact on the character and texture of the tourney.

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Because the blinds escalate so quickly, a turbo event is fundamentally different from a regular tourney in a number of ways. First, starting standards must be lowered. If you wait for premium starting hands, you will almost certainly get blinded out of the tournament in very short order. Second, good preflop play is paramount. The turbo format favors the hyper-aggressive style of players who like to push all in before the flop, and with all those all-in bets moving in right from the get-go, there will be less opportunity for you to out-play opponents after the flop.

To have a shot at winning a turbo, playing strategy must be adjusted to accommodate these differences. To avoid being eaten by the blinds, you need start building up your stack ASAP. That means pushing every single edge you can find right from the start, no matter how small it may be. It means playing more marginal cards, because the blind structure just won’t allow you to wait for something better. It means you have to take a lot more risks. It means bluffing/stealing won’t work as well as it would in a regular tourney, because opponents are more likely to call down you with borderline hands. It means a patient, tight, conservative strategy is almost certainly doomed to fail. In short, it means you’ll have to gamble more if you want to win.

As a result of all this, skill is less of a factor in determining the winner. With so many all-in confrontations, much if it simply comes down to who will catch the better cards, whether before the flop or after. Which is not to say that skill doesn’t matter at all — of course it does (with the possible exception of the uber-quick three-minute turbos). At best, any tournament contains a huge element of luck, and the most skilled player in the world cannot win a big multi-table event without a measure of good fortune on his side. The turbo format just makes pure dumb luck more of a factor than it already was.

On the flip side, because turbos take much less time to finish, you can actually play more turbo events than regular tournaments within the same space of time. For as long as it would take you to complete two normal tourneys, you could play in three, maybe even four turbos. Pro-turbo players argue that this ability to compete in more events within the same time-frame is a boon for the skilled player, and makes up (or perhaps even more than makes up) for the fact that the quick blind structure increases the importance of luck. Turbos favor quick-thinkers, decisive players who excel at preflop play, aggressive players who know how to push small edges and aren’t afraid of risk. Whether or not turbo tournaments are actually good for the game remains to be seen. But with their ever-increasing popularity, it certainly looks like they are here to stay.

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Josh Miller Josh Miller

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