Regular vs. Turbo Tournament Play

Regular tournaments and turbo tournaments aren’t one in the
same. The majority of tournaments will have normal blind
structures whereas turbo events move much faster. For example,
many live poker tournaments have blind levels that last around
45 minutes to an hour. In a turbo event, however, these same
levels are shorted to 15-30 minutes. Needless to say, the game
is going to be much more fast paced and your decision making is
going to be directly affected. Whether you are looking at the
strategy for the beginning of an event or as a whole, changes
are going to be made.

The attraction to turbo tournaments is that they don’t take a
long time to play. The tradeoff to this is the fact that there
will be less opportunity to play and there will be a heavier
emphasis on the luck dynamic. You may just not be cut out to
play in turbo tournaments at all. There’s going to be much higher
levels of aggression in a turbo tournament than what you will
normally find in regular events. The types of players that you
face are going to be different as well. There are so many
variables that need to be accounted for when you go from one
type of tournament to the next.

Player Type

You may or may not realize it, but the general type of player
that you’ll face in these events is going to be quite
different. In normal tournaments, most players are going to be
very passive and will lean towards the more amateur end of the
poker playing demographic. The reason for this is that many
poker players are only in the game for the recreational value.
They don’t have any interest in being competitive to the point
where they are failing to have fun with the game. This is the
primary reason for why tournament poker is profitable for so

When you move into the turbo tournaments, you are still
going to be running into many weak players. The difference is
that these players tend to be more well-adjusted to their game
of type and will usually have a more diverse skill set. Turbo
tournaments are much like any variation of any game in that its
uniqueness creates more specialized players.

General Approach

The standard strategy to turbo tournaments should not be
drastically different than what you would find in any other
event. The primary difference is also the most noticeable, with
the speed of play definitely being at a faster pace. You aren’t
going to have as many people who sit around and wait for hands
as the structure just won’t allow for this to work. You’ll
need to widen your hand ranges right from the beginning so as to
allow yourself the opportunity to get involved before you
cripple yourself through the blinds alone.

Aggression is going to be met with more opposition in turbo
tournaments than in regular tournaments. In a regular event,
there will be a lot of people who just back down to pressure so
that they can last another hand and pick another spot. Because
your odds of lasting longer are greatly decreased by the speed
of the blinds, players in turbo events are more inclined to
fight back. This doesn’t mean that you should be backing down
on your own levels of aggression, not by any means. All that it
means is that you’ll need to be more willing to play in raised
and re-raised pots. The play in turbo events is going to be much
more aggressive as a whole from start to finish and you need to
adjust your play accordingly.

Luck Factor

The amount of luck involved in tournaments is hard to
overstate. When you consider turbo events, you’ll be
subjecting yourself to even more volatility than normal. Earlier
it was mentioned that the play is much faster, which in turn
leaves less opportunity for anyone to really play a ton of hands
over a long period of time. Instead, you’ll be playing in few
pots for greater amounts of chips. There’s nothing you can do
to change this dynamic of the game, but you can still work
towards minimizing the extent to which luck personally affects

One of the most optimal ways to reduce the role that luck
plays in turbo tournaments is to be the aggressor whenever
possible. As a general rule of thumb, the person doing the
betting is going to be more likely to win a hand than the person
calling down the bets. You should be trying to win all of the
uncontested and unraised pots that you possibly can.

Even though players are going to be more active in turbo events, it doesn’t
mean that there won’t be a fair share of dead money
floating around. Make open raises, bet the flops, and use
your aggression to force your opponents into a corner. There’s
no better environment in which to use aggression to your
advantage than in a turbo tournament.

Running Deep

A deep run in these events is going to mean two very
different things. Again with luck, you are going to need things
to go your way in a turbo tournament. Not to say that this isn’t
true in any poker tournament, but the lack of actual play is
going to create an even greater need for bigger hands that can
win on their own. In the bulk of normal poker tournaments, even
players at the final table will have 50 or more big blinds to
work with. In a turbo event, the number of big blinds could
easily be closer to the range of 5-20 big blinds. This will
inevitably create a storm of all-ins where ultimately players
become handcuffed.

In a turbo tournament, you’ll need to have the will power
and determination to take down pots and make plays when you are
running low. You can’t fold and wait for hands. Sure, your life
is going to be on the line over and over again, but this is the
only way that you can really expect to win.

Learn to play your
opponents as much as you can because the cards can only help you
so much. Turbo tournament poker is much more about picking the
correct spots than it is about having good hands. If you can
successfully control your opponents, it won’t always matter
whether you are being dealt the best of hands.