Saturday, January 06, 2007

SNG Tactics - A Heads-Up Story

Interesting heads up match at the end of a PokerStars 16 yesterday evening. Unfortunately I placed 2nd! At the same time I was happy with all my plays so no worries.... there were 2 aspects to this match that caught my attention....

Firstly the guy who finished 4th was not happy!! OK he did have his aces cracked on the bubble, but the push was good from the guy who cracked him and the rest is just how the cards fell. He was getting abusive towards my opponent and rooting for me every hand! Did not respond, not my style really anyway, but also had several other tables on the go...

What was good about this match was that it was a great example of 2 people both playing thinking heads up poker. The blinds were already 600/300 and our stacks about 7000ish at the start. No room for post flop play left, it was either push or fold. My opponent was another multitabler and my read from the game was that he is a good player who knows his push / fold ranges well.

From that starting point there are 2 decisions to make, what can I push and what can I call his pushes with. Now if he is a competant player I know he is pushing a wide range here, something along the lines of top 60% - maybe more. This is equal to 87s+ any Pair, Ace, King or Queen, J7+ 108+... quite a wide range! So Q1; what can I call with?

Well the range here is in the region of 30+ (just over in fact), Any Pair, Ace, K7o+, q9o+ or J10s.

Now we reverse it, the answers are the same, I can push around 60% and he can call with 30%.

Next we decide what to do with the rest of the hands... those below the 60% mark.... this is read dependant - will this player let me limp? in this case a definite 'no' so just folded anything <60% while the stacks were equal.

Side note here: Whether an opponent will let you limp is a crucial piece of information in these situations... find out as early as possible, especially if it is relatively cheap to do so!

Anyhow along the match went - push / fold / push / push / fold. We had about 5 showdowns which resulted in one or the other of us becoming short stacked.... so, what do push and call with a short stack??

Well the calling range goes up, but not as much as you might think! Of course we have to adjust our opponents pushing range - he will likely want to end the match quickly yet not be pushing any 2 just yet, I think 80% is fair here... if this is the case I can now call with the full 60% with a 4/1 chip defecit. For pushing we get a similar story in reverse.

So on it went, the last hand I pushed Q10o and was called by K8s - these were well within the ranges. My 'fan' on the rails must have been disappointed... I was not, and in true gentlemanly form both my opponent and I typed 'gg' in the 2 seconds before the pop up box signalling the end arrived.

Heads up on the end of an SNG is a complex area - it is really about adjusting those ranges to your opponent and the example above was simplified by having 2 thinking players matched. I will look at HU play with tighties and people who do not understand what is going on in future entries... oh and explain 1 trick I use on less experienced opponents too!!

Cheers, Mark

1 comment:

1st rule said...

hey mark,
Just wondering if you still wanted to link up? Was not sure if you just forgot to put it up.