Hi everybody! This is my first blog entry on this site, so be gentle. If you see any pointy edges, I'd love some feedback.

First of all, this blog entry is a rather lengty one. It goes in to a fair bit of detail on the theory behind Hyper Turbo Satellite SNG's. I was asked by a couple of people to provide some basic tips and strategy for these games, so this blog entry is aimed towards people who have never played the hyper turbo games before and have little or no understanding of the strategy behind them, but hopefully you will get something out of it even if you've played a couple of them before.

So, if Hyper Turbo SNG's sounds interresting, let's get on with it. Cue the intro music!

 

INTRO

It's November and that means that the Micro Millions is upon us again. For a lot of people that means it's time to get your tourney grind on. This is not the case for me though. I don't usually play a lot of big tourneys, so I'm most likely not going to be participating in very many of the events, but the MM season is a favorite of mine for a reason other than cheap tourneys with big payouts: Hyper Turbo satellite Sit & Go's!

Last time the Micro Millions rolled around (in July), I decided to set a challenge for myself: Playing some hyper turbo satellites to see if it was possible to build some cash by unregistering from any seats I won and taking tournament dollars instead. As it turns out: Yes, it's possible. However, be warned. The variance in these is very high. If you decide to play them, you can go on losing streaks that might be very tilt inducing, so if you have a problem with tilt, you might want to sit this one out.

If you think of yourself as a tilt tolerant person and decide you want to play these, be warned (again): You WILL get tilted at times. Yes, you! It is important to recognize when this happens and take a break to cool off. You won't be doing your self or your bankroll any favors by playing a sub-par game in these games. You will not be getting away with it.

With the introduction done, let's get on to some more practical stuff, shall we?

 

TOURNAMENT DOLLARS

If you're not familiar with the term "Tournament Dollars", or T$ for short, it's very simple. If you play a satellite tournament and manage to win a seat but decide to unregister (or if you are already regitered for that tournament when you win the seat), you will be awarded the tournament entry fee in the form of Tournament Dollars. These T$ can be spent on entry fees for other tournaments or Sit & Go's, but cannot be used to play with on cash tables. They can however be traded with other players for real cash. More on this later.

If you have any T$, they will show up in the Cashier window at the bottom left.

 

BANKROLL MANAGEMENT

So, now that you know a little background; how big does your bankroll need to be to play these? Like I said in the intro, the variance in these can be very high. That means that you will need a larger bankroll than in other games relative to the buyin size. How much larger? I don't think I would be comfortable playing these with any less than 200 or 300 buyins. The amount of runbad you encounter gets pretty ridiculous at times, and if you plan on building a bankroll with these games, you will need to be able to tolerate some big swings.

To be a break even player in this format you will need to place in the top two a third of the time, since the satellite buyin is about a third of the target tournament, and the top two out of six players win an entry. When you're done playing and have won a seat and a few T$'s, don't forget to unregister before the target tournament starts! (Ctrl+R or via the "Registered in Tournaments" Requests menu option.)

 

EARLY GAME

On to the good stuff then.

First of all, before I mention anything else: As a rule of thumb (and this applies in the later game as well): Don't play too loose just because you know for a fact that you're playing against a maniac that will shove / call with any two cards.

When you start the tournament, you will have 500 chips and the blinds will be 25/50, ante 10. Usually on this blind level one to three players will be knocked out. Your primary goal on this blind level isn't to steal chips, it's to wait for the maniacs to get knocked out. Only play strong hands. When you play a hand, always shove.

It is important to remember that the ranges I describe here is just a guide, they are not guaranteed to be optimal against all types of players you will encounter. If you want, play around a bit with them to see what works. Just remember to not loosen up too much. (And if you're playing against me, know that I'm always bluffing, so you can always call light. )

From early position (UTG, UTG+1), shove 88+, AQo+, AJs+.
From middle position (CO), shove 77+, AJo+, ATs+.
From late position (BTN), shove 55+, ATo+, ATs+.
From the small blind (SB), shove 44+, A9o+, A8s+.

Calling ranges:

In the early part of the tournament, my range to call a shove is very tight.
VS early position, call a shove with TT+, AQ+.
VS middle position, call a shove with 88+, AJ+.
VS late position or small blind, call a shove with 77+, AT+.

So what's the common theme here? Don't play any random King or broadway! In the first level, tight is right. Don't worry if you get down to around 300 chips, this is nothing out of the ordinary. Note that you will of course have to widen your calling ranges depending on stack sizes. This is true in both early and late game.

 

LATE GAME

By "Late game" I mean anything after the first blind level. By the time the blinds increase, you will most of the time be sitting on a stack somewhere between 400-800. Now is the time to start putting a bit more pressure on the other players on the table, so your range should be expanding by a large amount. It's still important to play a bit tighter in early position, but it's not by a huge margin. In the late game we'll start stealing the blinds looser, this will involve some fair kings and broadways, but it's still important to remember to not start shoving any two cards! The goal here is to maintain and build your stack.

Since there will be fewer players left, take these ranges as a guide. I wrote them with four players in mind, but try to adapt them to how many players are left if there are fewer/more. Note that you will have to open up your range even if there is still five or six players left at the table, otherwise you'll blind out very quickly. As before, always shove when playing a hand.

From early position (UTG), shove 33+, A6+, KJo+, KTs+, QJ.
From late position (BTN), shove 22+, A2+, K9+, QT+, JT.
From the small blind (SB), shove 22+, A2+, K9o+, K7s+, QT+, JT.

Calling ranges:

VS early position, call a shove with 44+, AT+.
VS middle position, call a shove with 33+, A6+, KQ
VS late position or small blind, call a shove with 22+, A2+, KQ.

Common theme? To make it a bit easier to remember, perhaps try to think of the ranges in terms of "Any pocket pair, any Ace, fair Kings and broadways." You might think my calling ranges are too tight, and you lose too much money on the big blind, but my strategy is to make up for it by stealing instead of calling too wide.

In this stage, it's much more important to pay attention to stack sizes. Don't risk your big stack against another big stack when there are short stacks still in there. For the un-initiated, this concept is known as "ICM" or "Independent Chip Model", but I won't be going in to this here. The blog post is long enough as it is. Google and Wikipedia is your friend.

 

KNOW YOUR VILLAIN

To make it a bit easier for your self, remember to take good notes on opponents because it's not unlikely that you will start seeing some familiar faces. Even the fishiest of fish will run through a few hyper turbo's before they tire, so try to identify them and exploit them as best you can. The hyper turbo format doesn't lend itself to a whole lot of information gathering, so you most likely won't have extensive knowledge about anyone.

If you're not used to taking notes, a simple comment like "6max Hyper Satty - [Note]" will do most of the time in this format, where [Note] can be for example:
"Shove any two cards (4 times)"
"Call light (J5o, BTN vs UTG shove)",
"Wide range UTG (1 time)".

If you're not already doing so, now would also be a good time to start color coding the different villains, Regs as well as fish. You can read more about this for example here.

 

WHAT TO DO WITH THE T$?

Now that you (hopefully) have amassed a huge amount of tournament dollars, what do you do with them? Well if you don't want to play tournaments or SNG's, you can always sell them for real money at for example the PSO Forum or the 2+2 Forum. (The 2+2 Forum might be the better of the two, there's much more activity there if you don't want to wait.) There are some websites that will buy and sell T$ as well, but I haven't tried any of them, so I can't give you any recommendations on which to barter with. Google is your friend if you feel like trying one of them.

 

VARIATIONS ON A THEME - FPPs

If you've amassed some FPPs while playing some other games, you might be tempted to buy a cash bonus in the PokerStars VIP store. But wait! Go to the FPP Satellite list and see what's going on there first. Some times there are FPP satellites running for as low as 70 FPPs, and if you have a lot of points you might want to buy in to a few Sunday Storm satellites for 235 FPPs each.

Say you're a bronze star and you buy a $10 bonus with 1000 FPP's, you will get 1 cent return for every FPP you spend. ($10 * 100 cents / 1000 FPP = 1 cent.)

Now say instead you play a 235 FPP satellite to the Sunday Storm and win the $11 entry. Say you're a break even player and repeat this feat 1/3 of all the times you play, that's roughly 1.56 cents return for every FPP you spend. (($11 * 100 cents) / (235 FPP * 3) ~= 1.56 cents)

1.56 cents per FPP, that's almost on the same level as the largest Supernova bonus, 1.6 cents per FPP. ($1600 * 100 cents / 100 000 FPP = 1.6 cents.)

If you're a break even player and have the FPP's to spare, this is a very good deal. Something to think about, maybe.

 

OUTRO

I mentioned at the start of this post that I started playing these games to challenge myself. If you're interrested in reading about how it went, take a look in the thread I did on the forum, here.

The thread includes some hands I posted after every session and some of my thoughts behind them on the later days. You'll quickly see that I don't always follow my own range guides to the letter, I adapt them depending on stack sizes, what type of player I'm up against and ICM. (And sometimes tilt.)

Now that you know the basic strategy behind the Hyper Turbo satellite format, go play some MicroMillions satellites! (Just don't be surprised when you get sucked out on, it happens all the time. Variance is a cruel mistress.) Experiment and see if you find what I have written here is true or if you think i'm full of crap. (Please, no hate mail.)

A side note, a thing you might have noticed I didn't touch upon before: Is there such a thing as game selection in these games? Yes, absolutely.

I've found the games to be much easier when the target tournament is only a few hours away from starting, maybe even the entire same day. If you're playing them a few days or more before the target tournament starts, there will be a much higher amount of players that actually know a thing or two about how to play these, so they will be a bit tougher to beat. Still, they're in no way unbeatable.

Thanks for reading, hopefully I could contribute some knowlege. If not, tell me what you think I got wrong!