Thursday, September 18, 2008

HUJ13: Losing

This effort to get good at heads-up poker is starting to discourage me a bit. I feel like I'm improving daily, but the results aren't there.

It's been more than two months since I've been playing heads-up almost exclusively, and I have little to show for it. I'm not down too much overall, but the lack of wins makes the grind difficult.

This quest to improve at heads-up was predicated on a few ideas: heads-up poker can be very profitable if I get good at it, I needed to get better at postflop play, I wanted a new challenge and I didn't want to grow content playing 5/10 full ring and 6 max all the time.

I still believe those thoughts are valid, but there's a real possibility that I'll never master heads-up poker to the extent that I'll make more money at it than I was in my previous games.

However, as long as I'm continuing to figure the game out and my bankroll is intact, I'm not going to give up. I'll need more evidence before I can determine that I'm not going to make it as a heads-up player.

For now, I still believe I can beat these games the same way learned to beat sngs, limit hold'em up to 15/30 and no limit hold'em up to 5/10. Those games will be waiting for me if I decide my heads-up quest is futile.

Everyone reaches their level of incompetence at some point, but I don't think I'm there yet, and I have room to grow.


Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Keep in mind also that your quest for improvement in HU will also improve your other games like 6 max and FR based on your improved hand reading abilities.

I do wonder though why HU can be so profitable? I see tons of players who sit at the HU table waiting for an opponent and they are all regulars who won't play against each other (granted, they are super high stakes). So against a limited number of players, is HU really that much more profitable?

Klopzi said...

I have to agree with Alan in regards to HU improving your other games. I'm sure you've noticed a similar improvement in your game since you started your quest to own HUNL.

Have you managed good results at any limit of HUNL? You could try moving down one level and crushing those games to give you confidence a boost. You can always play the FR and 6-max games to keep your bankroll growing while you learn to crush the HU games.

Greylocks said...

I may have my head u-no-where, but I still think there's more money to be made in ring games, not only because of what alan says but also because of the math. NLH is just less complicated than multiplayer play, and reducing complexity should reduce skill, not increase it.

Some of this is offset by the slower speed of play in ring games, of course.

Another thing: you need a lot more bankroll to play heads-up 5/10 than ring-game 5/10. You probably need more bankroll than to play ring-game 10/20.

I agree absolutely with what the others say about HU experience improving your ring game results.

Gnome said...

I believe HU can be more profitable because it's a game of adjustments. I find that the regulars have established a solid fundamental game for themselves, but they don't seem to adjust to their opponents, which creates an opportunity to exploit them. In addition, many of the regulars multitable too much, which again gives me an advantage if they're not paying close enough attention. Finally, you aren't playing only against pros. There are plenty of random HU fish that wander in.
I also asked my coach whether HU is more profitable than 6 max or FR. He believes it is because HU winrates can be double those of 6-max, and you get in many more hands per hour.
We'll see how it turns out. HU won't be very profitable if I don't get good at it.

Greylocks said...

But almost everything you said about HU, except speed of play, is 100% true of 6-max and ring-game play also. Players don't adjust, they play too many tables at once, some are horrendous fish, etc.

I'm not saying you can't make money playing HU or that you shouldn't play HU. I'm just saying that I have serious and reasonable doubts about oft-heard claims that HU is more profitable or even as profitable. And I don't think anyone will seriously claim that it's easier on your bankroll than MP.

Alas, there's no good way to prove any of this one way or another AFAIK. Any results that claim to show more profit from HU than MP can't be verified because the difference could be ascribed to factors other than game intrinsics.

Gnome said...

Right, I agree that it's difficult to evaluate a game type's inherent profitability. In the long run, on a personal level, it will come down to my individual ability.
I'm not sure I agree with your previous statement that "NLH is just less complicated than multiplayer play, and reducing complexity should reduce skill, not increase it."
I think HU games are more complex because you have to play a wider range of hands, you have to play postflop more often and you have to play out of position more often.
Those characteristics lead me to believe HU increases the skill component.

Klopzi said...

I'd have to agree with Gnome on this one: HU is more profitable than ring games. I believe it's possible for a slightly above average poker player to earn 25% more playing HU than 6-max ring games, much in the same way that win rates are higher at 6-max than at full ring.