5 PokerStars New Hyper-Turbo Heads Up SNGs

11 July 2011

PokerStars decided to trial non-satellite Hyper-Turbo SNGs for the first time a couple of months ago amidst the SNG changes that were made at the beginning of May. They were rolled out in Heads Up, 6-max and 9-max format at the $7 level.

In that time a certain close competitor to PokerStars which offered a fairly wide range of Super Turbo SNGs has effectively been shut down, if not permanently, then with permanent damage being done to it. PokerStars have seemingly picked up the ball which Full Tilt have dropped.

Presumably they are still evaluating both the 9-man and 6-max versions, which are yet to see much expansion:

9-man:
$7
6-max:
$1.50, $7, $30

...but in the last few days the Heads Up format has been introduced across the board at all levels:
HUSNG:
$1.50, $3.50, $7, $15, $30, $60, $100, $200, $300, $500, $1000 


The format for the SNGs is below:
Starting chips:
500
Blinds increase:
Every 2 minutes
Levels:
10/20, 15/30, 20/40, 25/50, 30/60, 40/80... 

I've given them a bit of a whirl and have played about 100 so far at the $30-$100 level. Although this is obviously a tiny sample, I think it is likely to be fairly representative of the stats below:

Average duration:
3 mins 20 seconds

Longest match:
9 mins
Avg. # hands per match:
12

Here is a random sample of the approximate number of each Hyper-Turbo HUSNG that were running at 8pm WET today:
$1.50:
70

$3.50:
70
$7:
55
$15:
60
$30:
35
$60:
20
$100:
5
$200:
1
$300:
4
$500:
1
$1000:
2

When you consider that each match lasts between 3 and 4 minutes on average, it seems like they are proving to be very popular so far.

In my mind there are some pros and cons to their existence:

The good thing about them is that they are fast.

They fill up super quick, and even better they get started after about 15 seconds instead of the 1 minute wait that exists for all other SNGs (which I think PokerStars should either reduce to 30 seconds, or alternatively introduce an "I'm Ready" button for all entrants).

They don't take very long. If you need to finish up your session for whatever reason you can do so with just a few minutes notice. Not only that, you can fit in short sessions that you couldn't with other SNGss. I like to have a few hours available to grind my usual games, but a half an hour patch here or there and I could fit in some of these heads ups.

Of course you could also deem their speed to be a bad thing. Each individual SNG is clearly very crapshooty, and the edge you have over a bad opponent is going to be a lot less than it would be in a slower-format.


The games also seem rather reg infested. Although there are plenty of games running at most buy-in levels, of course the regs are able to play an awful lot of games per-hour, so you see plenty of them in the lobby.

I also question the number of fish in these games. I think most winning poker players in any format of poker have a decent idea of what they are doing. Perhaps the expert-sharks in this format might eek out an edge an opponent less experienced in SNGs, but I think it's quite easy to be at least somewhat competent in these games.

Whether it's a pro or con I'm not sure, but they are quite "gambley". I could imagine people going on a hyper-turbo induced monkey-tilt if they lose a few in a row, and playing too many at the same time, playing above their usual buy-in level, playing rematches they are -EV in etc. In theory this is good for people like me, as I feel pretty immune to monkey tilting in this way these days, but for those of you that don't, I think you could do your nuts playing these if you aren't careful. It could be argued they are tantamount to playing blackjack, which I'm not sure is the best thing for the average recreational player, but I'm not sure it's the worst thing either.

In theory I'm not sure exactly how I feel about them, but this is only because I don't know if I will play them all that much, and I was doing fine before they were introduced and don't need that to change. However, from an unselfish standpoint, I think they are a good addition to the SNG roster and it looks as though they are going to be popular.

For now I think I will keep playing them a little on the side, when I finish my sessions and when I have a spare bit of time for example (not that I have much spare time at the moment, as I mentioned in my previous post!), but I can't quite imagine playing them full time as I think dealing with all the all-in showdowns might drive me a little crazy!

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