Just introduced within the last two weeks, 888poker's new "super-turbo" game BLAST has already attracted a number of players curious about the new format and working to discover strategies to employ. Here's a basic introduction to the game along with a few tips to get you winning at 888Poker's BLAST.
Introducing 888's BLAST
Described as "the ultimate Jackpot Sit & Go experience," BLAST resembles other "lottery"-type sit-n-go games that feature a chance at winning much bigger prize pools than the players' contributions.
In the case of 888 BLAST, the prize pool varies from 2 times the buy-in all of the way up to 10,000 times the buy-in, with players only learning what they are playing for prior to the first hand of play.
BLAST is played as a four-handed sit-n-go. While the lowest "2x" BLAST games are played winner-take-all, the higher-multiplier games pay out more places — a 5x game pays both first and second; a 10x game pays first through third, and the 100x, 1,000x, and 10,000x games feature prizes for all four participants. Click here for a full rundown of the prize pool distributions and probability charts for the various multipliers.
BLAST features one key distinction that makes it unlike any of the other "lottery"-type sit-n-go games. Rather than play until one player has accumulated all of the chips to win, the games are timed, and when the timer expires — signaled by a lightning-like "BLAST" encircling the table — the decision-making ends and players automatically go all in every hand until someone wins.
As with the payouts, the size of the multiplier also affects the length of the game, with the lower multiplier games featuring fewer two-minute levels and the higher ones lasting a bit longer. A 2x and 5x game lasts just three levels (six minutes); a 10x game has four levels (eight minutes); a 100x game has five levels (10 minutes); and the 1,000x and 10,000x games go for six levels (12 minutes) before the "BLAST" happens and everyone starts going all in.
There are four buy-ins for BLAST games currently — $0.10, $1, $5, and $30.
Here are Sarah Herring and 888poker Ambassador Kara Scott discussing further some of the details of BLAST:
Strategy for 888's BLAST
At first glance, BLAST might seem like a game for which strategy is of minimal importance, and indeed once the timer expires and the automatic all-ins begin, there is no longer any strategy to help you succeed.
However, it is possible to win a BLAST game even before the timer expires — in fact, it happens more often than you'd think. It's also possible to play the "super-turbo" structure in such a way so as to increase your chances of having a chip lead if the game does reach the BLAST stage, thereby giving yourself the best opportunity to come out on top once the all-ins begin.
Regardless of the multiplier, all BLAST games have players starting with 1,500 chips with blinds at 25/50 (with a 5 ante) for the first two-minute level and 50/100 (with a 10 ante) for the second two-minute level. This means players begin with 30-big blind stacks, then quickly are down to 15-big blind stacks. The structures change a little from there depending on the multiplier, but as you can imagine once you reach Level 3 everyone is necessarily short-stacked, relatively speaking.
Depending on how fast players act, two-minute levels for a four-handed online game likely translates to no more than one orbit per level, or perhaps a couple once the field gets whittled to three and then two players. What this means is even in the quickest 2x and 5x BLAST games that last only three levels before the timer expires, you're likely to see players all in well before the "BLAST" comes.
That means you need initially to approach a BLAST game like any other "super-turbo" SNG, not worrying too much about the timer until the game's final timed level. For example, you should...
- open-raise with starting hands containing an ace or king, pocket pairs, or two Broadway cards
- min-raise with marginal starting hands, and open-raise for more with better ones (don't be afraid to get chips in preflop with your best hands)
- be more inclined to open-raise all in than to call all-in shoves (remember, to call a shove your hand needs to be better than the hands with which you can open-raise all in)
- note who is loose and who is tight, and adjust your raising/calling ranges accordingly (you will encounter tight players in these games who fold more than they should)
It's really only in the first level and perhaps occasionally in the second that it will be feasible to call a min-raise and see a flop with speculative hands like middle-suited connectors or "big-and-little" suited hands like . If you have less than 15 BBs (as you likely will by Level 2), fold these hands to others' opening raises. The fact is, you will mostly be employing a "push-or-fold" strategy in these BLAST games, much as you would in most "super-turbo" tournaments, especially beyond the first level.
We should also note how to deal with players who exhibit extreme styles — that is, players who open-shove all in every hand (yes, you'll encounter these) or those who fold nearly every hand and are obviously playing much too tight in such a format.
Against Mr. All-In-All-the-Time you obviously have to find a hand with which to call, not necessarily waiting for the top hands and instead going with a wider range (essentially all "above average" starters). Against Mr. Too-Tight you can min-raise frequently to claim blinds and antes, particularly when that player is in the big blind and/or when action folds to you and he's still in the hand.
How, then, does the timer and prospect of the automatic all-ins affect strategy?
First and foremost, you shouldn't be thinking too much about the timer until you reach the last two-minute level. That's Level 3 in the 2x and 5x games, Level 4 in the 10x games, Level 5 in the 100x games, and Level 6 in the 1,000x and 10,000 games. As noted above, you'll find many BLAST games don't even get as far as the "BLAST," thanks to the rapidity of blind/ante escalation.
If you do reach that last level and are short-stacked — say second of two remaining, or third of three — you should consider open-shoving at your first opportunity. Average hands like or should be looked upon as worthy ones with which to open-raise all in, because the "fold equity" you still possess increases the hand's value.
The automatic all-ins obviously erase "fold equity" from the equation as no one can fold anymore. That makes an average hand much less valuable, because you have to take it to a showdown. You'd much rather open-shove with than have to see five community cards with it versus a random hand (or two or three).
Meanwhile, if you reach the last timed level and have the chip advantage, watch closely to see if your opponents seem unwilling to play and are looking to get to the "BLAST" rather than engage with you any further — kind of like a soccer team not looking to score at the end of a match and just holding the ball in order to get to penalty kicks. If this happens, don't get frustrated — in fact, such opponents are doing you a favor.
If you have a comfortable lead (i.e., better than 3-to-1 at heads-up), you can pressure such an opponent with raises to increase your advantage further or perhaps end things even before the "BLAST" round. However, if you have only a small lead and it appears you can carry it into the "BLAST" endgame, be happy to do so as your opponent is essentially conceding you the advantage and higher likelihood of winning when the "flips" begin.
Get in the Game... It's a BLAST
If you're curious about BLAST and want to give a try — and if you don't already have an account on 888poker — now's a good time since you can get an account and get in the game without even making a deposit.
Create your free 888poker through PokerNews and you'll be awarded a free sign-up bonus of $88 (£20 in the UK) 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!