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Rush Turbo Strategy with FTOPS Winner Mike Leah

Mike Leah

Mike “goleafsgoeh” Leah has been a tournament specialist for the past three years and has made a killing. He has nearly $2 million in lifetime earnings, and his most recent big score was a win in Event 24 of the latest Full Tilt Online Poker Series, which was a $216 No-Limit Hold’em Rush Turbo. With the upcoming Mini FTOPS (Dec. 8-19), it seems appropriate that PokerNews talk to Leah about Rush Turbo strategy.

What adjustments did you make when tailoring your strategy for a Rush Turbo?

Basically, the first adjustment I made was that I don’t bother opening hands I’m probably not going with before antes kick in because you’re not picking up very much when you take down a pot. I was playing pretty much top ten hands in the beginning stages of the tournament until we got close to the money. Then, I basically just raised every single hand that was folded to me because no one really knows how much you’re opening because you’re never on the same table. I won just about all of them. Then when the antes kicked in, I had a stack and continued raising because it was profitable since you pick up much more than you’re risking. I went from being very, very tight early to ridiculously loose and aggressive in mid to late stages.

Also, utilizing the “Quick Fold” button is important in Rush. If players are playing multiple other tables or tournaments, they aren’t able to click the “Quick Fold” button as quickly so they aren’t getting as many hands. That means statistically, they won’t get as many top three or top five hands. When I was playing the Rush FTOPS, for the most case, I was only one or two tabling so that I could see as many hands as possible.

What mistakes do you see players making early in a Rush Turbo?

There’s very little play in a Rush Turbo, so mostly people are making mistakes preflop with their hand ranges. They’re making the mistake of calling with ace-ten, ace-jack, or opening those hands , or ones like jack-ten, queen-jack, king-ten suited. You’re going to be dominated against the hands people are playing in Rush usually. Smart players aren’t playing marginal hands.

In regular tournaments, you like to min-raise preflop if you’re opening. Did you make any adjustments as far as preflop raise sizes?

No, I didn’t make any adjustments as far as raise sizes. I min-raised pre-ante and just added a little post-ante because it is worth it just to take the blinds down, but still kept it less than the pot. I’d make it 2.3 times the big blind.

How do hand ranges change preflop in this format?

When you get a hand in late position, most often, I’m going to fold a lot of marginal hands because I don’t want to wait for everyone else. If someone is on the button and is opening, their range isn’t as wide as I find in a normal tournaments because they could just fold and not wait for seven other people before it gets to them. I don’t think people open that light in late position.

For example if someone shoves on the button or small blind with their 10 big-blind stack, their hand range is much tighter than in other tournaments because they don’t really have to go with a marginal hand. They can just fold and try to find a better hand. I guess everyones hand ranges go up in every situation.

Tell us about playing the final two tables and down to the win.

I wasn’t chip leader for much of the last two tables. I wasn’t opening with hands I wasn’t going with and I was looking for spots to shove on openers. It was just like regular tournament mode only quicker since the blinds go up every three minutes. I had to win a lot of showdowns and a lot of races though.

I started the final table with about 600,000. At this point, there’s no more switching tables. I quickly won a big pot flatting with tens which got me up to 800,000. Then I had almost a two-to-one chip lead on the table. That made it pretty easy. With the pay jumps getting higher, I was just basically taking advantage of the short stacks, shoving on them a lot. Three-handed for all the chips, I chopped ace-jack against ace-seven, but then I got lucky with ace-six against ace-nine to take a big chip lead into heads up.

There was very little play heads up. He had about 10 to 15 big blinds, I min raised a couple times to chip up, then he shipped on me when I had aces, making it pretty easy. It was just a very shallow tournament. The final table played like any other turbo which is much different strategy than most final tables. It’s basically push or fold. I was just trying to take advantage of the pay jumps and the medium stacks who didn’t want to bust because there were others shorter than them.

So your edge really comes in knowing the proper push-fold strategy? It seems like players either freeze and lock up, or stack off at unnecessary times.

Right. It’s a completely different set of strategy, but it’s probably more important than deep stack strategy because every hand and every decision you make is for your tournament life. I think the majority of the good online players have a good understanding of push fold. I think amateurs who don’t get to final table situations that often don’t know what to do when they get there because they’re not used to playing with short stacks with big money jumps.

Whenever a reg makes the final table with the chip lead or near chip lead, they either bust tenth by trying to take advantage of it or they win. I think you have to take those shots because you can chip up so easily. If you have two guys behind you with under 20 big blinds, and there’s a guy at the table with eight big blinds, you can shove profitable every time on them because they don’t want to call off. They’d rather wait until the other guy busts. In shallow tournaments, those pots that you are picking up are huge, and you can make it really easy on yourself.

How long did the whole tournament actually take?

We were down to 15 at the second break and done by the third break so it probably took about two-and-a-half hours.

That was a quick $93,000 win!

Yeah, it was [laughs].

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