Among the many online options available for poker players, the recently introduced BLAST Sit-n-Gos on 888poker continue to present a fast and fun way to jump into fast-paced tournaments that in a sense start with the "endgame."
For those willing to take the time to consider the format a little more closely, they can provide a bankroll boost as well.
The BLAST Sit-n-Go: How It Works
Not familiar with 888poker's BLAST sit-n-gos? No problem — the games are fast, and learning the format can be done quickly as well.
BLAST games on 888poker are four-handed sit-n-gos with "lottery"-style payouts. The prize pools range from twice the buy-in (e.g., you buy in for $1, and the prize pool is $2) all of the way to 10,000 times the buy-in (that same $1 BLAST tournament suddenly has a $10,000 prize pool!).
All BLAST games are "super-turbo"-paced with short two-minute levels. That means just a few hands — perhaps an orbit, if it's still four-handed — before the blinds and antes go up. Meanwhile whatever multiplier is applied not only affects the prize pool, it also affects the length of the tournament before the "BLAST" kicks in and everyone goes all in automatically every hand until someone wins.
The 2x and 5x games last three levels, the 10x game goes four levels, the 100x game goes on for five levels, and the 1,000x and 10,000x games last six levels (12 minutes altogether) before the "BLAST" happens.
Also worth noting — the 2x games are winner-take-all, but all of the others feature multiple payouts.
The 5x games pay both first (70 percent) and second (30 percent). The 10x and 100x games pay first (60 percent), second (25 percent), and third (15 percent). And the 1,000x and 10,000x games pay all four spots — first (60 percent), second (20 percent), third (10 percent), and fourth (10 percent).
Here are eight quick tips you can blast through before sitting down at your next BLAST sit-n-go to help improve your chances:
1. Know Your Starting Hands
BLAST sit-n-gos reward players who understand basic short-handed strategy as well as how to attack "regular" sit-n-gos. But having an understanding of the relative strength of starting hands in no-limit hold'em and their likelihood to survive preflop all-ins is knowledge you can't do without if you hope to profit in them.
Everyone knows to go all in with pocket aces, whether the game is four-handed or full ring. But do you know what starting hands comprise, say, the top 10 percent (in terms of their equity)? That would include any pocket pair or better, any suited hand or better, and non-suited , , and .
These are hands you're probably going to be ready to push with even from the very beginning of a BLAST sit-n-go, with lower pairs and other Broadway hands likely in the mix as well.
2. All In? Pushing is Better than Calling
As a general rule, you can open-shove with a wider range of starting hands than you can call others' shoves with, as being the first one to get your chips in the middle gives you the added chance of winning the hand when everyone else folds. If you're calling an all-in from another player, you'll have to be best after the community cards come in order to win the pot.
3. Don't Let Mr. All-In-All-the-Time Bother You
Some like to start "blasting" away in BLAST sit-n-gos from the very start, essentially playing an "all in or fold" strategy even during the first or second level when the stack sizes don't necessarily insist upon such an approach. Against such players you'll likely not be able to follow the previous tip — that is, you may well have to call off against them once you pick up a worthy hand for doing so.
That said, don't be intimidated into passivity by such players. The rotating button means you'll have your opportunities to act before they do as well, and so stay ready to take advantage. For example, knowing their tendency only to fold or shove, you can count on them often giving up their blinds even to min-raises.
4. Punish Limpers
Players start with 30 big blind stacks in BLAST sit-n-gos, which quickly become 15 BB stacks (or less) two minutes later if the player doesn't get involved during Level 1. Some players respond to this situation by trying to limp and see flops cheaply, and often even regular-sized raises can chase those players and win you pots during the first couple of levels.
It might not seem as though such smallish "steals" are worth the trouble in a rapid-paced BLAST sit-n-go, but win a couple and you have what is in fact a significant chip edge — and remember, there are only three levels in the 2x and 5x games, meaning you might still be out in front when the automatic all-ins begin.
5. Remember the Limp-Shove
The advice to take advantage of limpers doesn't preclude limping yourself — with a plan to shove over a raise with your strong starting hand.
In regular MTTs or SNGs, the limp-raising (or limp-pushing with a shoving-sized stack) is rarely a recommended play, but in super-fast structured turbo tournaments, it's a great option, especially when you feel confident someone else is mindful of the previous tip and likely to raise after your limp.
6. Adjust Starting Hand Requirements as Field Shrinks
As the tournament goes from four players to three to just two, your requirements for raising and/or shoving have to adjust as well.
Even in a "normal" tournament (with a slower structure), three-handed and heads-up strategy already require players not to rely as heavily on hand strength as they might in full ring situations. But with the super short levels and limit to the number of hands you'll actually get to play in a BLAST sit-n-go, you have to recognize there isn't time to restrict yourself to the very best starting hands with which to push.
7. Don't Be Overly Affected by the Coming "BLAST"
Occasionally you'll encounter players in these events altering their strategy somewhat during the last level as the tournament-ending "BLAST" draws near. Those with big stacks might grow conservative, hoping to reach the stage where everyone automatically goes all in each hand with the chip lead (and thus a mathematical advantage to win). Small stacks may also either appear to want to stop "playing poker" and wait it out, or might get desperate trying to earn a double-up or two before that happens.
The best approach in not to worry too greatly about the approaching "BLAST" and simply keep playing your normal strategy. In fact, it's a tactical mistake for a chip leader not to try to win before the "BLAST" takes place, since after that you may have a statistical edge but you're wholly at the mercy of the cards. Take advantage when you can both of having the chip lead and being able to influence outcomes of hands with your bets and raises.
8. Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Finally, always remain aware of the payouts in BLAST sit-n-gos and adjust your strategy accordingly. If it's a winner-take-all, accumulating chips from the start is more important than simply surviving and finishing second or third rather than being first out. If the top two or three pay, be aware of these mini-"bubbles" as they take place, especially if it appears an opponent has tightened up in an effort to reach the money or next pay jump.
Have a BLAST and Build a Bankroll
If you haven't tried BLAST sit-n-gos yet and are curious — and if you don't already have an account on 888poker — now's a good time to give them a try since you can get an account and get in the game without even making a deposit.
Create your free 888poker through PokerNews Canada and you'll be awarded a free sign-up bonus of $88 which includes $8 in free cash and tournament tickets and an $80 bonus. You can check out BLAST all of the other games on 888poker without it costing you a cent!