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Turbo vs Regular Tournaments


Regular or Turbo Games?

There are lots of different versions of turbo tournaments that have become extremely popular in a short space of time.  I guess it all kicked off with Stars turbo games a few years ago.  Nowadays, almost every poker site is running turbos.  Even super turbo MTTs are starting to hit the scene.  Games range from SNG turbos, 180 man turbos, satellite turbos and other MTTs with 3 – 5 minute blind levels.  However, whether or not you choose to play turbo or regular MTTs will have an impact on your ROI, variance and profits.

Turbo vs Regular Tournament ROI

Turbo tournaments such as the SNG games at PokerStars limit the amount of “pure poker” in the game.  The 5 minute blind levels and 500 starting stacks make the game more about luck than skill.  This gives everyone a more equal chance of winning – the result is a smaller ROI.  For example, we play a turbo 10-man $10+$1 SNG.  If everyone has an equal chance of making money (33% ITM) then you will get -9% ROI. 

Compare this to a regular 10-man SNG where your chance of an ITM finish is 20%. This means you’ll make 5%+ ROI.

We can see the adverse effect shorter starting stacks and faster blind levels have on our ROI. Of course a pro SNG grinder can make money in turbo SNGs and will still maintain a positive ROI %.  However, because it is more difficult to get consecutive ITM finishes his average profit/game will be less than a regular tournament.

Turbo Variance

Faster blind levels means greater variance.  In turbo, games the effective stacks will get down to 15BBs usually within the first 15 minutes.  This leaves less room for “pure poker” such 3bets, positional play and post-flop action. The effect is that you’ll have to push your chips into more coinflip situations pre-flop, increasing your variance and dependance on luck.  I don’t like this because it removes a lot of the core strategy that the game is built around.  This is why players with small bankrolls should stick to regular SNGs however.  Variance is a poker player’s worse nightmare and turbo games are the scion of variance – albeit the surrogate mother.  Unless you can offset this with a big bankroll and high enough volume of games (200+) you need to avoid the temptation of fast registering turbo games. 

Hourly Win Rate

Turbo grinders can make up for a smaller ROI by playing more games per hour.  While regular MTTs last 30 – 180 minutes, turbo games only last 15 – 40 minutes. 

This means you can play up to twice as many games per hour, allowing you to have up to 50% less ROI than a regular tournament player and still make the same profit.

Conclusion

You can make just as much money if not more in turbo games, and they are more fun and exciting.  But being a good player myself, I obviously enjoy the slower tournament structures, being able to outplay opponents post-flop and giving myself more opportunities to do so.


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