Taking a Look at Turbo Tournaments Online

Here's your brief guide to turbo tournaments in the online poker world

Tournament poker is as popular as ever right now with thousands played daily. Turbo tournaments have always been popular as they are over quicker than a traditional speed tournament.

All tournaments are essentially the same beast when you dissect them. They all have an early, middle, and late stage. The hand rankings are the same, but turbo-tournaments and their crazy cousins the hyper-turbo tournaments require a different mindset and set of skills to be successful.

We first need to ascertain what turbo tournaments are. A standard online poker MTT has blinds of between 10-20 minutes, sometimes longer in high roller events. The blinds in turbo tournaments are between 5-8 minutes. Hyper-turbo blinds increase even faster, typically every 3-5 minutes.

What Draws People to Turbo Tournaments?

People love turbos because they finish quicker than standard MTTs, but aren’t as mental as hypers. Players often want to play a tourney but can’t be bothered sitting around for several hours. Turbos are perfect for this because the crown their champion around 50% faster than other games.

This shorter length increases your hourly rate, which is great if you’re a professional poker player. The more you earn in a shorter period of time the better.

More recreational players enjoy turbo tournaments because they level the playing field. Tournaments with great blind structures favor pros and stronger players. Being deep stacked for longer periods give good players an advantage over lesser-skilled opponents.

Ever notice the final table of the WSOP Main Event is usually stacked with pro players? Blame the structure. The WSOP Main Event has an amazing blind structure, one that allows mistakes to happen and for you to recover from those mistakes. The same can’t be said for the WSOP side events. These progress much faster and it’s not uncommon for a rank amateur to triumph in one.

What Are The Main Negatives of Turbo Tournaments?

A reduced Return On Investment (ROI) is expected in turbo tournaments, which most people dislike. Your potential hourly rate is larger, but your ROI is lower. A lower ROI leads to needing a larger bankroll to ride out the periods of not cashing.

You have less room to manoeuvre in a turbo event. Blinds increase rapidly and you are only deep stacked for a few blind levels. You’ll spend a lot of your time with a 20-35 big blind stack and this is a difficult stack size to play. Why? Because your options are limited. A three-bet preflop where you fold to a four-bet costs you around 25-33% of your stack, for example. Raising preflop, making a continuation-bet on the flop but then folding is also costly.

Making a mistake in a turbo is costlier than a slower structured tournament. You can lose 20 big blinds in a slow event and have a good chance of recovering. Lose 20 big blinds in a turbo and you may win those chips back, but the blinds have increased two or three times, leaving you short of chips anyway.

Turbo tournaments can also get boring fast. You’d think they’d be more exciting because of the added pressure of escalating blinds. This is true, to a degree, but the optimal turbo strategy is quite robotic.

I remember playing 180-man turbos at PokerStars and would play 15 tables at once because it was so easy. Easy, yet massively boring over the course of a week, especially if you’re losing.

What Strategy Adjustments Should You Make For Turbos?

The game is still the same as a standard tournament when all’s said and done. Playing tight in the early stages is crucial. You typically start with 100-250 big blinds so are in a healthy position. Adding 100 chips to a 10,000 stack isn’t worth going hell for leather for.

Mistakes in the early stages become more costly later on, if you make it that far. By all means, play your strong hands aggressively. Just don’t go splashing around chips like they’re going out of fashion.

The early stages of turbo tournaments progress quickly and you soon find yourself in the middle stages. You need to be aware of the chip stack sizes around you. You should be doing this anyway, but more so in turbo tournaments.

Everyone is going to be short stacked at some point. Don’t just automatically raise on the button without looking. Those in the blinds may only have five big blinds that they shove in and you’re priced in to call.

Learning a good push-fold strategy is key to success in turbo tournaments. The winning players play tight early on, hoping to pick up strong hands, before pushing all-in or folding later on in the tournament. Running hands through equity tools will surprise you at how light mathematically correct shoves and calls are.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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