Hyper Turbo Heads-Up

If you want fast-paced action, heads-up hyper turbos are the game for you. Blinds go up every 2 minutes in this game so there's a lot of all-in action.

If you want fast-paced action, heads-up hyper-turbos is the game for you. Blinds go up every couple of minutes in this game so there's a lot of all-in action, even compared to the already action-packed heads-up poker.

We'll be looking at heads-up hyper-turbo strategies as well as the pros and cons of this particular format.

Hyper Turbo Heads-Up Poker Explained

A stopwatch with a quarter of the time elapsed

Heads up hyper turbo games are played in a sit and go format and begin once two players have registered. The entry fees are then combined (minus the tournament fee) to create the prize pool that the players are playing for. Both players start with relatively short stacks (between 25-50bb depending on the site - for example, PokerStars will have a different structure to Party Poker), and the blinds increase at an extremely rapid pace - around once every 2 minutes.

The players play in a 1 on 1 format, commonly known as "heads up" in poker, with both players paying either the small blind or big blind every hand. The small blind is also the button and starts the action preflop, but will always act last postflop.

As the players start with short stacks and the blinds increase at a rapid rate, it doesn't take long until players are going all preflop in almost every other hand. Once one player loses all their chips, they are eliminated from the tournament and their opponent is declared the winner. The winner is then given the whole of the collected prize pool.

These games are incredibly fast-paced and always have a lot of action in them. There's not a lot of folding in heads up hyper turbos so they're incredibly popular amongst recreational and regular players alike.

Hyper Turbo Heads-Up Poker Strategies

Whilst some people think that heads up hyper turbos are just a crapshoot, there's a lot of strategy behind the different parts of the game:

Hyper Turbo Heads-Up Ranges

Learning how to play your ranges at different stages of the sit-and-go can make a real difference in how profitable they are for you.

Min Raise Aggressively From the Button

When you're playing heads up, you're in the blinds every hand. You cannot afford to do a lot of folding, especially in a heads-up hyper-turbo game where it won't take long to get blinded away.

You need to play a lot of hands and you need to play them aggressively.

By being min raising aggressively preflop, we give ourselves a chance to win the blinds while only risking the minimum amount. If you end up playing against someone who's overly tight and folds, you can basically win the game by repeatedly stealing the blinds.

However, whether or not you min-raise or go all in is dependent on your stack size, and some hands should be played from certain stack sizes but not others.

For example, you should raise a hand as weak as 74s in the early stages where you have 25+bb, but not when you have 10bb.

Only 3bet Small in the Early Stages

Your stack size should dictate the strategies you use as while some strategies work very well at a particular stack depth, they'll cost you a lot of money at others. 3betting small is a great example of that. 

When you're in the early stages and deeper stacked, you can afford to 3bet to a smaller size with a polarized range as it doesn't cost a significant portion of your stack to do so. However, when you're short-stacked you can't afford to 3bet bluff to a small amount and lose without it severely affecting your stack size. Therefore, when you're short-stacked you should only 3bet all-in rather than to a small size.

Let's look at a couple of examples:

In the first hand, we have A2 and 35bb. Our opponent raises to 2bb, we 3bet to 6.5bb, our opponent goes all-in, and we fold. In this scenario, we risked a small portion of our stack to try and re-steal with a good re-stealing hand.

In the second hand, we have A2 and 18bb. Our opponent raises to 2bb, we 3bet to 6.5bb, our opponent goes all-in, and we fold. In this scenario we risked a third of our stack to try and win 3.5bb - and now we're faced with a tricky decision! Instead, we should have gone all-in ourselves to take the play away from our opponent.

Learn Push/Fold Charts

When you play heads up hyper turbos, you'll find that you end up with <15bb effective stacks very quickly. This is due to the speed at which the blinds increase compared to other tournament/sit-and-go formats.

From around 20bb, the most profitable play for some hands is to simply go all-in preflop, rather than min raising or limping. Knowing which hands can be profitably shoved will make playing heads-up hyper turbos a lot easier as it cuts down on the need for complex decision-making. However, it's important you study these closely as there are certain cut-offs for hands that turn them from profitable to unprofitable.

For example, if you're on the button with a 12bb stack, it's profitable to shove Q8o, but it would not be profitable to shove Q7o. This may seem like a small difference but if you keep making small mistakes they will add up over time.

Hyper Turbo Heads-Up Stacks

Your stack size should dictate how you play preflop:

16-50BB: Raise the Blinds

A pile of poker chips

If your stack is around 16bb or higher, you have the freedom to min-raise preflop without it being a significant portion of your stack. When you're deeper stacked like this you'll want to play very aggressively to try and win as many blinds as you can.

This is because you only see these stack sizes in the early stages of the tournament, so you need to prepare yourself for when the blind levels increase. Being aggressive is the only way you can steal the blinds often enough to survive the level increases.

Unlike other tournament structures, there's no point in playing conservatively in the early stages as within 5-6 minutes your starting stack will be around 10bb. Come out of the blocks firing on all cylinders - raise, raise, and raise some more!

10-15 BB: Mix Up Your Strategy

When your stack sits around this size, you have a whole host of options available to you. The option is still there to min-raise, however, it's going to be a larger proportion of your stack so make sure that your opponent isn't the type who will aggressively shove over your raises.

For some hands you're dealt, the most profitable play will be to open-shove all in - taking away any chance your opponent has to re-steal or play postflop and allowing your hand to realize 100% of its equity when called.

Another tactic you can take is to start limping with a mixed range, including some strong hands. The response to a limp will vary strongly depending on the player. Some will be happy to take the free flop, meaning you can realize your equity for cheaper with your medium/weak hands and some players will play very aggressively, meaning you can trap your opponent by limping with a strong range.

Whichever decision you make should be based on your exact stack size, how strong your hand is, and how you think your opponent will react to your action.

4-10 BB: All-In With a Wide Range

Anything under 10bb and your stack is in the danger zone. You won't be able to survive many rounds so it's vital that you pick up as many chips as possible. To do so we're going to need to continue to be aggressive but this time our min-raising strategy won't be as effective as our opponent will likely put us all in when we raise.

This means that we want to take the play away from them and go all-in preflop ourselves. Going all-in puts our opponent to a decision and if they don't have a hand strong enough to call, they have to fold or else give us a significant advantage with a lot of money in the middle.

The more chips we have behind, the more likely our opponent will fold so we want to make sure we don't get blinded down - even if this means shoving weaker hands. It's far better to try and win the blinds by shoving a hand like Q5o off an 8bb stack (a mathematically correct shove by the way), than it is to fold our way down to 1 or 2bb, waiting for aces.

Hyper Turbo Heads-Up Pros and Cons

As with all formats and variants of poker, there are pros and cons to heads up hyper turbos.

Pros

  • Fast paced action - the fact that it's heads-up, coupled with the fast blind structure means there's plenty of action every time you play. If you don't like folding, heads-up hyper turbos are the game for you.
  • Quick wins - some heads-up hyper-turbo games are over in the first hand! There's no playing for 3 hours only to be knocked out on the bubble - these games are often over within 5 minutes and you can always jump straight into another one.
  • Easy to learn - the fact that stacks are shorter and get shorter very quickly means that not a lot of knowledge of deep-stacked poker is required to play and get good. It's a lot easier to sit and learn the push/fold charts for 10bb poker than it is to understand the nuances of 250+bb poker and how to apply them in-game. 

Cons

  • Variance - Due to the fast blind structure and the number of all-ins that occur in each game, there is a lot of variance associated with heads-up hyper turbos. It's not uncommon for players to go on 50 buy-in or even 100 buy-in downswings whilst grinding these games so it's important you follow proper bankroll management.
  • Competition - As heads-up hyper turbos are a popular format, there are a lot of regular players who are grinding these games to make money and getting familiar with the structure. If you want to be a winner in these games you'll need to learn to beat the regulars as well as the recreational players so serious study will be required.
  • Mistakes add up - Each chip is very valuable in a heads-up hyper-turbo game as we have so few chances over the course of the tournament to win them. This means that any mistake we make is magnified and incorrectly shoving with a hand could be the difference between winning and losing.

Heads-Up Hyper Turbo: FAQ

We've collected and answered the most common questions surrounding heads-up hyper turbo poker:

What is heads-up poker?

Heads-up poker is a format of poker that is exclusively played between two players. Any variant of poker can be played in a heads-up format but the most common game you'll see played is No-Limit Texas Hold'em.

How is hyper turbo heads-up poker different from regular heads-up poker?

Heads-up hyper-turbo games are different from regular heads-up poker as they're played exclusively in a sit-and-go format and have rapidly increasing blinds - much faster than any other sit-and-go structure.

Are there a set of blind levels and starting stack for all hyper turbo heads up poker?

There is no set starting stack or blind structure for heads-up hyper-turbo tournaments. This is up to the discretion of the cardroom.

Are hyper turbo heads-up strategies different from sit&go strategies?

The strategies in heads-up hyper-turbo games do differ from that of regular sit-and-go games due to the pressure of the fast-increasing blinds. As you quickly become short-stacked, stealing the blinds becomes a much more vital part of the game.

What is a profitable strategy for hyper-turbo heads-up poker?

The most profitable strategy for playing heads-up hyper turbo poker is to be very aggressive right from the start. The aim is to steal the blinds as often as possible to get a big enough stack to survive the fast-increasing blind levels.

How should I play with a medium stack in hyper turbo heads-up poker?

With a medium stack in a heads-up hyper turbo poker game, it pays to mix up your strategy. This includes going all-in preflop, limping some strong hands, and min-raising. The best strategy will depend on how your opponent reacts to these decisions, for example, if they're aggressive against limps then you should trap more often, and if they fold too much you should raise more often.

Is hyper turbo heads-up poker profitable?

It is definitely possible to be profitable playing heads-up hyper turbos. It is still a tough game to master, despite the number of all-ins there are pre-flop and it's easy to find opponents who are making exploitable mistakes - especially at the lower stakes.

Despite it not looking like it at times, there is a lot of strategy that goes into playing heads-up hyper turbo poker, and following these tips can help you profit in your games.