Online poker has brought many innovations into the game, not the least of which are MTTs with very fast escalating blinds. The so-called hyper turbo tournaments have blind levels going by every two or three minutes, with only a handful of hands played on each blind level.
As blinds go up so fast, players become short-stacked very fast, and push-fold poker is more common than in any other game format.
Winning hyper turbos is hard as it requires you to stay on top of your game every hand and often get involved with mediocre situations.
This guide will cover some basic hyper turbo tournament strategies you can apply to try and beat the games, so let’s start by talking about the hyper-turbo structure and what makes it so unique.
When they first kick off, hyper turbo tournaments may appear similar to any other tournament type. After all, you are seated there with about a hundred big blinds and waiting for a big hand to start entering pots.
However, things are about to change very quickly, as the blinds will be as much as 16x bigger in just 15 minutes or so, meaning you need to start accumulating chips as soon as possible.
One thing you will likely notice in hyper turbo tournaments is that players will play a chaotic and often really bad style of poker right off the bat, as the escalating blinds put them into panic mode.
You, of course, should not be panicking but adjusting to the format and still playing a solid game instead. The only thing is, the definition of good poker changes slightly in this game format, but it still does not mean you should be blindly putting your chips in the pot and hoping for the best.
The early stage of a hyper turbo tournament lasts for a few levels, and these are the levels where you and other players still have some chips to play with relative to the blinds.
However, many recreational players don’t realize this and tend to play way too loose in the early levels, as they are already panicking about the escalating blinds.
On the other hand, you should always play appropriately for the blind level you are on. There is little value in trying to steal the blinds in the early levels.
Yet, there is a lot of value in something else. As players often play looser and wilder in the early level of hyper turbo tournaments than in the same level of regular tournaments, you may find value in playing a bit looser against such opponents.
You should still play appropriate ranges for all the positions, but stacking off with a hand like JJ, TT, or AQ can make more sense in this format for several reasons.
First of all, you may find players willing to stack off against you with anything just to try to accumulate some chips. Secondly, taking some gambles in hyper turbos can make more sense, as you get less time to be dealt big hands and showcase your skill edge to the opponents.
Once the early levels of the tournament are over, you will enter the middle rounds, were stealing the blinds actually becomes important.
The stacks quickly get into that 15-30 big blind territory, and getting your hands on an additional 2.5bb can be quite valuable. You will want to stay focused and consistent in the face of the escalating blinds.
Don’t go crazy if your stack is getting shorter, but don’t play too loose if you have chips, either. In both scenarios, it will be very important to remain mindful of your position and the opponents around you.
You will particularly want to pay attention to the two players sitting to your left to find out how easy it is to steal their blinds.
The players to your immediate right are also interesting, as you will want to know just how aggressive they are and how willing to stack off for all their chips.
The re-steal becomes a very important play in this stage, so you will want to know who the players are who open too many pots but fold to all-ins.
The late stages of the tournament are key to your entire hyper turbo tournament strategy, so the biggest mistakes and the best plays can be made at this stage.
The stacks in these stages are very small compared to the blinds, and having some extra chips to work with can be a big blessing.
It is well worth trying to build up a stack in the middle stages for this time, as it will allow you to make more situational plays and stack even more chips. Having a big stack means you can continually apply pressure on the small stacks in the blinds and maximum pressure on middling stacks when they open the pot.
When seated in late positions, you will want to relentlessly attack the blinds by either shoving all in or making raises if the effective stack is over 15bb.
Remember that each hand of a hyper turbo tournament is completely independent of all others and that you should not be waiting long for big hands or anything else.
Every opportunity +EV that comes along should be taken, as maximizing your value in each hand is that much more important in a hyper turbo.
It is essential to remember that you can't win a hyper turbo without getting into all-in confrontations and winning a few showdowns, as the blinds increase simply too fast.
Don't be afraid of getting called when you shove it in with your suited connectors and don't be shocked when you win against AK. After all, you are only a small underdog, to begin with.
Hyper turbo tournaments are not about getting your money in good but about stealing as many chips as possible before you finally have to show your cards.
If you are able to win a ton of chips without a showdown, it won’t matter how you do when the cards are opened, as you will usually have built up a big stack by that time.
The final stage of a hyper turbo tournament starts when only a few tables are left, and the pay jumps start to get big. At this stage, most recreational players start to make big mistakes by either playing too tight or folding way too many hands.
For the most part, people play too tight in this stage.
Some do it because of the real ICM effect, while others are too timid about losing their chips. In either case, this gives you even more of a reason to play super aggressively. You will want to avoid calling all-ins when you can but instead shove your chips in to maximize fold equity as often as possible.
Of course, you should still not be afraid to put your money in as a call when you have a strong hand, as you will often be up against a weaker range just looking to steal the blinds.
Your success in the final stages will depend heavily on who you are up against, as some players will play these stages much better than others.
Make sure to identify the tight players who you can exploit to the maximum in this stage and go crazy against them, as getting those free chips without showdown is the name of the game.
There is nothing more important in hyper turbo tournaments than being aware of your position at the table. Considering the structure of these tournaments, you will be going all-in a lot, and doing so from late positions will make you a ton more money than doing it from early seats.
You will want to memorize the push-fold charts for short stack play and use them in every situation you can, as each time you are getting low on chips, you will need to consider if your hand is worth a shove.
It may seem like all you are doing is blindly going all in, but you will actually be making money by pushing it to the edge if you do it appropriately.
Never be afraid of stealing or re-stealing the blinds, and don’t worry about the fact you just went all-in four times in a row. If your hand is a profitable shove from your position, you should go for it.
Having some chips to work with and intimidate others is also a key part of your hyper turbo tournament strategy. If you get extremely short, it is worth taking a gamble and trying to get the double up instead of allowing the blinds to eat you up.
The equities tend to run much closer in hyper turbo tournaments, which means you can get a double-up easier than in a regular MTT format.
You should always be aware of the current and upcoming blind levels, as the blinds might change in just a minute or two.
With each new level, your stack will become worth less than before, so keep building it up by stealing those blinds and getting into some all-ins.
Another key thing to note about hyper turbo tournaments is that you simply get fewer chances at everything in them. You will get fewer chances to get dealt good cards, fewer chances to get it in good, and fewer chances to make hero folds.
Therefore, taking every chance you can get is extremely important, and playing good poker every hand is of key significance.
You won’t get too many do-overs in hyper turbo tournaments, so your focus should be at a high level every time.
The one great thing about hyper turbos is that you will also get to win them much faster, and just a little bit of a good run will get you into that winner's circle.
Hyper turbo tournaments are super fun to play and very convenient since even a big field hyper turbo will only last a couple of hours. Their incredible speed makes it so that every decision you make in a hyper turbo is even more important and has a greater impact on your overall results.
The key thing to note in hyper turbo tournaments is staying active and aggressive. Never let others dictate the tempo, and make sure to be the aggressor as often as possible.
There is nothing better than getting to steal the blinds and build up your stack in one of these events, so take every opportunity you can to shove your stack and get those folds.
With this approach, you also won't be able to avoid going to some showdowns and occasionally running into monster hands, but those hands, too, can be cracked.
In the end, it won't matter if you run into aces if you have built up a big enough stack up to that point while waiting for a big hand won't matter if you don't have any chips left to double up with.
Hyper turbo tournaments are about who is the most aggressive and who can time that aggression to avoid needlessly losing their entire stack. If you can do that, you will win big in hyper turbo tournaments, and your bankroll will go in the right direction.
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Manuel (36) is a poker player and coach from Germany. He joined the Pokercode team in the summer of 2022.
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