Sunday, February 08, 2009

HU23: Overview

Postflop play is hard: No limit hold'em simply doesn't involve as much postflop play as most other forms of poker. Cash game reraises often take down the pot preflop, and tournaments often turn into preflop pushfests.

Heads-up play is different because players are forced to see more flops, turns and rivers. You have to develop a balanced strategy. Determining strong continuation bet percentages, check-raise frequencies, aggression levels per street and bluffing patterns are important.

That means deciding when to check behind on paired flops, when to check-raise a weak flopped pair and how to adjust bet sizing to get maximum value and induce mistakes.

Adjustments: Each opponent is different. Playing a standard game isn't going to make much money. Coming from full ring and 6-max hold'em games, it was difficult for me to get used to making such drastic changes in my game.

Now, I'll rarely 3-bet against some players and blast others with reraises and preflop shoves. I'll donkbet against some and let others do the betting for me.

It's tough to constantly think: If my opponent is showing this attribute, how should I respond? What level of thinking is he on? Do I need to value bet thinly or bluff more often? Players who correctly re-evaluate their situations will be able to exploit their opponents more.

The Big Picture: When three bad beats hit within minutes, it's easy to lose perspective and go on tilt. Nobody wants to go on tilt, but it happens. When emotions cloud judgment, players allow short-term results from the past to influence their present and future actions. Tilt is a failure to see beyond the variance into the distant horizon of countless hands.

Miniquest: I'm confident that my heads-up game has improved to the point where I can beat most of the 2/4 regulars, as well as the fish. Now I want to take a week or two to try to win 10 buy-ins _ $4,000 _ at that limit. I'm already up two buy-ins since I embarked on this goal, so hopefully the remaining eight won't be too far behind. In this small way, I hope to prove to myself that I can dominate this limit.

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