Adjusting to the Super Turbo when it’s slow

June 4, 2008

So what happens when you play a super-turbo and the players are 1) tight or limpy rather than aggressive early, and 2) sloooow making decisions?

Then the blinds go up even faster as you play fewer hands at each blind level. By the third orbit you might be down to half a stack already and yet to play a hand, but the table still has 6 or 7 players. That means the blinds come around slower, but it also means that you spend time in early position with few chips, and your shoves have to get through 5 others, some of whom are as desperate as you.

This has happened a couple of times lately playing these super-turbos on Fulltilt. It might be partly a result of playing during the weekday evenings as opposed to during the day the first dozen times I played. Maybe the players are tighter/less donkish/less panicced about the blinds in the evenings than on the weekends. Whatever the reason, I need to have a strategy for when this seems to be playing out.

One thing I’m learning is that it’s not necessary to shove right off the bat. That if I have chips, and especially if the table seems tight, I can make standard 3x raises with hands that I’m not prepared to die with (ATs from earlyish position, for example) but that I can’t bring myself to fold. If I look at my chip stack, have enough to raise and still have enough behind to fold to a shove, then a raise/fold is fine, one time.

If the table is limpy, I need to find some situations to get involved before I run out of chips. Raising an unopened pot even from mid is probably the optimal situation. The others are

  1. raising limpers from late,
  2. shoving from the blinds over min-raises, or
  3. calling limpers more from late position or from SB, or
  4. calling min-raises from the BB,

none of which are very appealing.


(Later addition)

There will always be unaware players who limp/complete/minbet even after they fall down to 5 or even less BBs in standard tourney situations. Since the starting stacks are only 10 BBs (and maybe effectively less if I get seated UTG or in the blinds to start) I think I need to set a lower threshold for playing. In other words, a lower level at which I’m still willing to play if I fold to a shove over my steal/raise. Maybe a level like 3 current BBs? I want to allow myself to get in some hands earlier, especially at a tight or limpy table, without committing myself to do or die just yet, just because I know that if I just can get near the bubble with a few chips I can usually fare well. This has to be balanced with the fact that I need to pick up just a few chips once to get to that point.

The shallow stacks all the way around make it possible to play with lower Ms, but obviously if you get down to 2 BBs, anyone with chips in the BB has to call you.

Last game I thought I was going to get to this situation. Marginal to bad hands, raises or limps-with-callers ahead of my stealing hands/situations (remembering not to overestimate fold equity from limpers at these levels). Blech. Got chipped down to 3 BBs or so without playing a hand. Finally shoved KK from late position, and since I had few chips the BB had to call and I doubled up. A few hands later the big stack, who had been shoving once an orbit or so since taking the chip lead, shoves and I call with JJ, which holds up over his A7 and I become marginal chip leader, just like that. Then I’m set to play my standard late game style; raising, and pressuring, with the advantage being that I played no hands early and only showed down strong hands to get the chip lead so that when I make the shift to looser/aggressive I get a lot of credit.


(Later-later addition)

Still the only thing I’ve been playing the last few days, largely due to lack of time for anything else. I’ll be interested to see how the game changes when I play on the weekend, when I can play earlier in the day. The games have been tougher than when I first started these last weekend (my ROI has dropped to 20% on these) and I think that there’s some better players in these recently. Of course there’s also standard variance (my better hands were holding up in the early games, as opposed to my AK losing to A9 that hit two pair last night or my A7 shove shortstacked that lost to a flopped straight with at KJ).

Little mistakes can make a difference. A few days back I shoved a decent shoving hand, but I was a short stack on the bubble and another person had less than one BB. This is questionable, though I’ve had it go the other way where you wait for a tiny stack to go out, but then they get lucky and triple up and now I’m the tiny stack and I’ve missed a shoving opportunity. Or, heads up I meant to shove Ax against someone that was fairly weak and who had just completed from the SB. But, I hit the wrong button and min-raised. He called with his T8s and flopped top pair which I obviously couldn’t c-bet him off of.

Last night an opponent made a mistake which worked in my favor. He had just over 2 BBs and was in the blind, so almost half his stack already committed. I had not much more; about 3 BBs and shoved JTs, thinking I’ve got to make a move at some point. Big stack in the SB calls me, and BB stupidly calls as well.

Almost regardless of what he has, he should fold here, imo. I’ve shoved, a big stack has called, we’re on the bubble, he should stay out of the way and hope that I go out. As it was it was even worse as he J4o so his J was dominated by me. Big stack had Kxo and no one caught so both of us were eliminated, but because I had more chips before the hand I got third and he got nothing.



  1. Are you playing the super turbos to make money or to blow off steam? From what I’ve seen of these they are total crapshoots are are more luck than skill!

  2. I’m having fun with them.

    It’s a VERY narrow range of skills required; preflop/shortstack play and that’s about it. Decisions are made early and then you let the cards fall as they will. I think I enjoy the simplicity and bluntness of the play, and even the opportunity to say, well, I think my play was good even though the board went his way. Plus I probably like the short burst of intensity and then it’s finished.

    The fact that I’m still winning at it is a nice plus as well.


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