Sit & Go Turbo

Sit & Go’s are a popular way to play tournament poker and the king of the format is the Sit & Go turbo – they’re fast-paced and can be very profitable.

Sit & Go’s are a popular and convenient way to play tournament poker. And the undisputed king of this format is the Sit & Go turbo – they’re fast, they’re furious and they can be very profitable if you know how to approach them.

Read on to learn some top turbo Sit & Go strategies and tips.

Sit & Go Turbo Explained

A turbo Sit & Go is a type of Sit & Go tournament that has a fast blind structure – usually around five minutes per level.

They can vary from heads-up to multi-table tournaments, but most often they are single-table with six or nine players. A full-ring turbo SnG usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes to complete, and six-max SnGs are even faster.

A Sit & Go is a type of tournament that starts once all the seats are filled – this is in contrast to traditional tournaments that have a specific start time.

Turbo SnGs have become the most common type of SnGs on most sites.

Differences between SNG Turbo and Regular

The main difference between regular and turbo Sit & Go’s is that regulars usually have blind levels of around 10 minutes compared to the 5 minutes for turbos.

Usually, turbo Sit & Go’s will have a starting stack of 75bb just like most regular SnGs – but on some sites, it will be smaller, e.g. 50bb.

Sit & Go Turbo Variance and ROI

If you play SnG turbos you will experience more short-term variance than regular SnGs.

The blinds rise faster and this means stacks get shorter faster. In turn, this means you have no time to wait around as the risk of being blinded out is higher. This means you will be getting into more marginal situations as you can’t afford to pass them up and wait for a better one.

Faster blinds also mean that turbo SnGs become preflop push/fold games faster than regular SnGs. Getting all-in a lot really exposes you to the will of the poker gods!

So generally, you should expect a lower win rate for turbos than regular SnGs. Tournament poker win rate is usually measured by ROI (Return on Investment) – your total tournament profit divided by your total buy-ins.

Sit & Go Turbo Hourly Rates

It’s not all bad news though. Although variance is higher than in regular SnGs, and so your ROI will be lower per tournament, turbos are so much faster, you can make more money per hour even with a lower ROI.

A turbo is between 1.5 and 2 times as fast as a regular SnG, but it’s unlikely your win rate will be that much lower. Turbo SnGs are also easier to multi-table – meaning you can play even more per hour.

Turbo SnGs become a numbers game, where you put in the volume and ride out the short-term variance for an increased ROI per hour. But this is only true if you want to grind. If you want to enjoy your poker, then don’t worry too much. Just pick whichever format you prefer.

Sit & Go Turbo Ranges

As a general rule, a solid SnG strategy is to play fairly tight in the early stages, and loosen up as the blinds increase – until eventually, they are so high you have to play push or fold.

This applies to turbo SnGs too. However, as the blinds increase so much faster – around once per orbit in the early stages – you will have to loosen up much sooner than in regular SnGs.

Even the threat of an imminent blind increase should spur you into action. The worst thing you can let happen to you is getting blinded out. And this includes letting your stack get small enough that you can’t scare anyone with an all-in.

The flipside though is that in turbo SnGs one misplayed hand can be fatal for your stack. Don’t let the pressure of the rising blinds force you into playing too loosely before it’s necessary. You can’t win a tournament early on – but you can definitely lose it!

The most important ranges in a Sit & Go turbo are push/fold ranges. If you have a solid grasp of these for various stack sizes 15bb and below you will have a significant edge over your opponents – at least at the lower stakes.

The differences between Regular Sit & Go's and Sit & Go Turbo
A rundown of the differences between Regular Sit & Go’s and Sit & Go Turbo

Sit & Go Strategies

This format can be very profitable if you understand the basic turbo sit & go poker strategies to take for each stage and stack size. Let’s take a look.

Sit & Go Turbo Strategies Per Stages

Early Stage

At the very beginning of a turbo SnG, the blinds will be low relative to the stacks, and you will play at a full table. As there are more players, orbits will take longer and you will play fewer hands between each blind increase.

One strategy during this stage is to play a loose game, see as many cheap flops as possible to try and make a big hand and win a big pot. This can work, especially if your opponents are weak and limp a lot. You still need to have some selectivity through – speculative hands like small pairs, suited connectors, and suited aces, rather than any old trash.

The downside is that you will bleed chips – especially if you chase draws beyond the flop – and even if you make a big hand you may not get paid off.

Any mistakes in a turbo SNG are magnified. Cripple yourself here and you could be completely destroyed by the next blind increase – which is never far away. And even if you do win chips here, they are less valuable than chips won later on.

We’ll say it again: You can’t win a tournament early on – but you can definitely lose it!

The other early-stage strategy is to keep it tight. If you get a monster starting hand then go nuts. But if you don’t, then just keep folding to conserve your chips for the next stage where they really matter. Let others make mistakes – every player that gets knocked out is free tournament equity for you.

However, the bad players (fish) will be the ones throwing their chips around early on – and they’ll usually get knocked out early too. If you’re too tight, you may miss out on some easy pickings. It can be worth seeing a few cheap flops here and there from late position with speculative hands.

With turbo SnGs, the early stages won’t last long  – so you should focus on your middle and late-stage game.

Middle Stage

Before you know it, the blinds will be getting high compared to the stacks, and often antes will kick in too.

A few players will usually have been knocked out, speeding up orbits and increasing the number of hands played between blind increases (but also increasing the number of blinds you will pay).

At this point, the dead money (blinds + antes) is going to be a decent proportion of your stack. Stealing preflop becomes important. You need to widen your range and up your aggression. If you don’t then you will get killed by the rising blinds. And the golden rule in SnG turbos is to never allow yourself to get blinded out.

The other side of this coin is that as players are incentivized to steal widely, they become vulnerable to “resteals” – that is, getting re-raised off a weak hand. Usually by the middle of a turbo SnG stacks will be so shallow that any re-raise will have to be a shove.

A word of caution though – know your opponent before trying a cheeky resteal with a weak hand. Fish won’t fold, and nits will show up with a monster hand.

The goal of stealing and restealing is to take down the pot without actually putting your tournament life on the line.  

Sometimes your opponent will show up with pocket Aces, but that’s just poker. It doesn’t mean you were wrong to attempt a resteal. Poker is about the decisions and not the outcome.

Bubble

The Sit & Go turbo bubble is where things start to get really interesting. The bubble is when there is one more player left in the turbo SnG than there are paid places. Getting knocked out here is a disaster – and so many players become overly cautious, tightening up and folding even strong hands rather than risk a gamble as a probable favorite. Why chance it when any other player getting knocked out guarantees you a payday?

To an extent this is true: calling an all-in just isn’t really worth it without a very strong hand. However, playing Sit & Go turbos with the aim of just cashing is not a profitable strategy. You should always play to win the whole thing – and to do that you will need as big a stack as possible.

But more importantly, you can take advantage of other players’ caution during the bubble using aggression. If you are on a table of players who are just trying to nit their way into the money then it’s pretty easy to run them over and pick up blinds left and right. Just don’t go overboard. You need to identify weakness and exploit it, not just be over-aggressive for the sake of it.

As a rule of thumb, always try to be aggressive during the bubble rather than passive. Don’t call all-ins without a monster hand. If someone just raises then you should always prefer shoving on them to calling – at least if you think they are capable of folding.

An exception might be if you find yourself on a table with players who don’t seem to understand the significance of the bubble and just keep smashing into each other then it’s fine to just get out of the way and wait for them to kill each other off.

Late Stage

After the bubble pops, players relax and loosen up. Some players are just happy to have made the money and don’t really care if they come third or first. But you should not make this mistake – always play to win.

The best thing you can do to prepare for this stage is to practice shorthanded play. You can practice your three-handed game by playing Lottery SnGs (aka Spins) – they are three-man hyper turbos with a randomly chosen prize pool. Spins also involve a lot of heads-up play as well, but we recommend also playing some Heads-Up SnGs to really get a feel for it.

Many players don’t practice three-handed and heads-up poker at all, and so you can gain a significant edge without too much time or effort. And this will make a massive difference to your profitability because first place always pays much more than second or third.

Sit & Go Turbo Strategies Per Stacks

Stack size is of critical importance in all forms of poker – but it’s rarely more important than in Sit & Go turbos. Always be aware of your stack size, the stack sizes of any opponents that might get involved in the hand, and the effective stack size.  

A stack of chips with a 500 chip at the top

Big Stacks

The nature of Sit & Go turbos means it’s difficult to have a truly big stack for long unless you have a very good run of luck. As a result, you don’t need to worry too much about deep stack play.

After fifteen minutes of play, there will have been three blind increases and the starting stack will have shrunk from 75bb to 15bb – and in fact, your stack will be shorter due to the blinds and antes. You’ll be short stacked within a quarter of an hour – or a few orbits – if you don’t play any hands!

So if you do double up, you can’t just coast your way to the money. You need to stay active and bully your opponents. The best targets are medium-sized stacks. Other big stacks can really hurt you – while short stacks are much more likely to shove into your raise.

That said, if you have a big stack relative to your opponents, each additional chip you gain is less valuable in terms of tournament equity.

You don’t want to be getting greedy and risking a significant proportion of your chips to gain extra chips: e.g. calling an all-in with an okay hand, or tussling with another big stack, just because you feel you have chips to spare.

The chips you can lose are worth so much more than those you can win!

Small Stacks

You should get comfortable with short stack play if you want to succeed at Sit & Go turbos. The good news is turbos give you plenty of opportunities to practice them!

There are different degrees of being short-stacked, each with its own strategic considerations:

  • 20bb: this is the point where you have a little bit of room to manoeuvre pre- and post-flop, but not much. You don’t have the implied odds to make speculative hands worthwhile.
  • 10bb: now you are in push/fold territory. Either shove all-in or fold. Don’t limp, raise or call.
  • 3bb: you are pretty much dead below this point as you won’t get folds if you shove all-in. Don’t allow it to happen!

Push/fold poker is something that many players don’t take time to study or practice, and as a result, you can gain a big edge over your opponents with a bit of work. Players often leave it too late before they switch to push/fold, they call shoves too wide or they don’t shove wide enough. And you should pay attention and take advantage of this.

Fold equity is absolutely key – 99% of the time you just want your opponents to fold so you can pick up the pot uncontested. So you need a big enough stack (hence why 3bb is the dead zone) and you really want to be first in the pot. If others have limped or raised before you then they are more likely to call you.

Sit & Go Turbo Tips

Let’s take a look at some handy turbo Sit & Go tips that will keep you one step ahead of the fish at your tables.

A hand flipping a coin

Avoid Coin Flips Early On

Sit & Go turbos have fast blind levels and so eventually you will need to win a bunch of all-ins if you want to make the money.

However, when you are not short-stacked you should think twice about getting it all-in – especially if you are thinking of calling an all-in with a hand like AJ or 66.

Because of the way tournament equity works, the possible upside (doubling up) is not as valuable as the possible downside (losing all or most of your chips). Even if you get it in ahead, you are still going to lose a lot because that is just how probability works.

All-ins take away any skill edge you have and put everything down to dumb luck. That’s fine if you are worse or equal to your opponents, but if you are better than them it makes no sense.

If you have an edge over your opponents, then you want to preserve your tournament life so you can make that edge count.

Categorise your Opponents

In turbo Sit & Go’s you don’t have the luxury to sit around waiting for great cards and perfect situations like you can in cash games or the early stages of MTTs.

Instead, you are in a constant race for survival against the rising blinds. You need to be able to exploit your opponents to the max – there is no one-size-fits-all strategy.

Some strategies are just suicidal against certain player types but like a cheat code against others. At the very least you need to know who shoves too wide and who calls shoves too wide – and who shoves too tightly and who folds to shoves too much.

If you don’t have a HUD (e.g. PokerTracker 4), then you need to be observing and taking notes. It will pay off in the long run.

Steal and Resteal

If you want to survive after the first few blind levels in a turbo SNG, you will need to steal as much “dead money” as you can. The cut-off, button, and small blind are the best spots for this. Every time you steal a pot like this you are buying yourself another orbit.

If you raise 2bb to try to win a pot of 2bb (blinds and antes), then as long as the blinds fold more than 50% of the time you will automatically profit. Most people don’t defend this wide – if they do, just tighten up a bit and you’ll be well ahead of their range.

If you’re in the blinds, it’s better to resteal by shoving than defend by calling. By shoving you remove any positional disadvantage, you guarantee you realize your equity and you maximize your fold equity.

If you’re in the big blind and the button raises 2bb, then the pot is 4bb. If the effective stack is 12bb and you shove, you’re risking 12 to win 4 – meaning you need to win more than 75% of the time to make a profit.

That sounds like a lot, but what range will a player call a shove with here? More than the top 25% of hands, which already includes a bunch of marginal hands that don’t perform well all-in? Probably not. Only fish and maniacs will look you up with anything outside the top 10%. And that means the reshove is automatically profitable.  

And even if they do call you, you still always have a chance to win. Over the long run, the resteal is a very profitable move.

A word of warning though – do not attempt the steal or resteal if your stack is so small that you’ll be giving great pot odds for a call. Unless you want to be called, of course.

Get Comfortable with Playing Push/Fold

Even regular Sit & Go’s tend to eventually degenerate into short-stacked shove-fests – but with turbos, it just happens a lot quicker. If you don’t like playing push/fold then perhaps find a different format.

There are push/fold charts available on the internet – these are also known as Nash charts because they use the work of mathematician John Nash to “solve” the push/fold game.

However, this solution assumes perfect play by your opponents as well – something you won’t find much of at the lower stake turbo Sit & Go’s.

You should definitely familiarise yourself with these charts – but just don’t expect them to guarantee you victory every time against every opponent. You will need to adjust your shoving ranges based on your opponents’ tendencies.

Put in the Volume

Turbo SnGs are a high variance format, and the only way to ride this out is to play enough of them.

Yes, you should avoid coin flips early on when you don’t have to – but it won’t take long for the blinds to rise to the point you’ll be forced to pull off risky moves if you want to survive. And often these will go wrong and you will get knocked out.

But you can’t sit there stewing about it – just fire up another Sit & Go turbo and get back on the horse.

The great thing about Sit & Go turbos is that they don’t take long at all and you can get in a lot of hands per hour. It’s not like an MTT where hours of your life can go down the drain with nothing to show for it. 

Just accept that your ROI per tournament will be lower with turbos – but you can make up for this by putting in more volume over the same time period.

Pros & Cons

Sit & Go turbos are very popular but they aren’t for everyone. They have their plus points and their negatives. Let’s have a look.

Pros

  • The main attraction of SnG turbos is they are quick. They don’t require a big-time investment. And they are great if you want to get straight to the business end of a tournament. Most tournaments end up as a push/fold contest anyway, so why not speed things up?
  • And there is always plenty of action – the rising blinds guarantee that. Turbo Sit & Gos can be exhilarating – especially compared to cash games or MTTs.
  • You can play more tournaments, and this means you can make more money per hour – even if your ROI is lower per tournament.

However, it’s not all good news. Yes, Turbos are faster and get to the push/fold stage a lot quicker than regular tourneys. But this comes with some big downsides.

Cons

  • First of all, you just don’t have the time or stack to play any real postflop poker. This reduces the skill factor and increases the luck factor. And the fast structure means making even a small mistake can really mess up your chances.  
  • More all-ins and more action mean more variance. Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ll make less money – but it does mean you will constantly be exposed to tilt-inducing situations. Losing a series of flips when you are a clear favorite is tough to take, but it will happen to you if you play enough turbos. It can make you hate poker.
  • And the fact is turbo Sit & Go’s attract more regs because they are better for grinding. You can play more per hour and they are easier to multi-table. Yes, they also attract impatient fish – but on the whole, the fields will be tougher than regular tournaments.

Turbo Sit & Go: FAQ

We’ve collected and answered the most common questions surrounding turbo Sit & Go’s:

What is a sit & go poker turbo?

A Sit & Go poker turbo is a Sit & Go tournament with fast blind levels – usually around 5 minutes, compared to 10 for a standard Sit & Go.

Can I use the same sit & go strategy with sit & go turbo? 

You can use the same general Sit & Go strategy with Sit & Go turbos – so long as you understand the effect the faster blind increases have. The general SnG strategy is to play tight early on, loosening up as the blinds increase and because the blinds increase twice as fast, you will have to loosen up twice as fast too.

Should I preserve my stack throughout the early stage of sit & go turbo?

The early stage of a turbo doesn’t last very long. After ten minutes there will have been two blind increases and the starting stack will now be worth 30bb – actually less because of the cost of blinds and antes. So by all means play tight to conserve your stack up to this point – but you will have to start making moves soon, else risk being blinded out. 

Is it possible to still win sit & go poker with a short stack during the bubble?

You can still win a Sit & go Turbo with a short stack during the bubble, but you will need to be two things: aggressive and lucky. Don’t try to coast into the money. And if you’re a really short stack then no amount of aggression will save you – only the poker gods can. Don’t let that happen to you!

Why are sit & go turbos considered to be luck-based?

Sit & Go turbos do have a large short-term luck element, although they are games of skill over the long run. There are always a lot of all-in situations in turbos, and this exposes you to a lot of variance. If you are getting your money in good, over the long run you will be profitable.

Are sit & go turbos worth playing? 

Sit & Go turbos are worth playing for a variety of reasons; they are quick, they are exciting and action-heavy, they are good for grinding, you can make a higher profit per hour, and you can practice your push/fold game.

Sit and Go turbos are the most popular kind of Sit & Go these days – and for good reason. You will go far if you master your push/fold game, put in enough volume, and embrace the variance!