Ultra Turbo SNG Strategy
Most ultra turbo games will start off with the same blinds as every other game, but the big difference is that the blinds go up at a much faster rate. When playing these games you'll be moving your stack in within ten minutes or much sooner from when it started. This is a game most poker players don't play simply because of the level of variance in it. You can win a lot of buy-ins or lose a lot of buy-ins in a matter of minutes. You'll find that players with no patience often play these games, the players who are just looking to make a quick few bucks. If you are a player who looks to take these games seriously you should look at spots to shove and spots where you'll be a favorite against random hands.
When you enter these games you should be willing to put your stack in the middle at almost any time if you feel like you have the best hand. If you showdown the best hand or are a favorite to win the pot, more times than not you will walk away with the wins at the end of the day.
If you are just looking to gamble you should stay away from these games, because although you'll be able to gamble, you'll also cripple your bankroll if you don't run well. There will be stretches in games like these where you can lose twenty buy-ins in a short period of time. The variance is so high that you have to be patient and really focus in on every player and every situation. If you choose to be the overly aggressive player at the table it can hurt your chances of winning them so pick your spots wisely.
One of the first situations in the ultra turbo games that you should magnify is the blind versus blind hands. This is a spot where you should look to run over the big blind from the small blind, because you'll need their blind in order to survive and maintain your stack size. If you don't wake up with hands that you can gamble with you should not do it. However, if you have reasonable cards, then gamble with them. When playing out of the small blind every ace should be an instant shove and every king as well depending on how deep your stack size. Hands like Q8+, J9+, should also be in your range of hands to shove with. What you want to avoid is shoving in with really weak hands.
If you start to open your range up too much you'll get crushed and lose at this game. From the big blind you should always observe how the small blind is playing. If they have been playing tight you can fold more hands that are at the bottom of your calling range like K8, or Q10. Every pair should be a snap call no matter how your opponent has been playing. A pair is certainly a favorite in more spots than not. If they happen to flip over a bigger pair there's nothing that you can do.
If you are playing pots from the big blind you should also look to get value if you have big hands. Most of the time the small blind will shove or fold and instantly give you the value you wanted, but for the times that they limp in you can check before the flop with a hand like pocket kings or aces. You want to check, because most of the time if your opponent is weak they will just put a bet out on the flop and try to win the pot. Also, they could be trying to trap you. This is the case sometimes, but if you have a big pocket pair let them take the lead in the pot as opposed to you. If you take the lead they could throw their hand away, and you won't get more chips from them.
Playing hands from under the gun or under the gun +1 is difficult in these games because if you make an open raise often you'll get shoved over the top of. It's best to just shove in if you feel like you are unable to fold. This you should do with almost every pair. It all depends on how deep you are in to the game and the blind structure most of the time. If you are playing later on in the game then shove, limp, or put in a minimum raise. If you happen to have a hand like QQ+ or AK in early position, then you should be welcoming a shove over the top. In this instance you can make a minimum raise or even limp in.
If you have a big pocket pair, you will want more hands that are going to be shoved in, because you know that you'll have them beat. If you just shove with a hand like aces, a hand like A10 or middle pairs are more prone to fold. Most times players will just shove in with A10 or middle pocket pairs, because it makes more sense to shove then to fold. It makes almost no sense to call with a hand like A10 after someone has shoved in front of you.
If you limp in it will invite the player to shove, because if they limp and miss they have burned valuable chips. What you are doing is limping and looking to trap them, or putting out a small raise to increase your opponents fold equity. Most times players are unable to fold mediocre cards in these games simply because of the nature of them, and you have to invite them to shove in order to stack them. You and most others are looking to win chips and build your stack in a hurry; in return you can exploit that by playing your big pairs slowly.
At the end of the ultra turbo games, you are basically just shoving in or folding. There's almost nothing else that you can do in most cases. You are getting a great return into your stack if your opponent folds. If your opponent does wake up with a big hand, then there's nothing you can do about it.
The nature of these games will result in a shove or fold most of the time. You have to pick up pots by shoving to give yourself a chance to win them. If you make a raise before the flop and throw your hand away to a shove you are burning valuable chips that you could have used later on. If you do this too often, you won't be able to cash them in or win any of them.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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