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Broadening My Palate

I'm back after a long, sickly weekend. There's nothing worse than coming down with a wicked cold at the same time as your kids. Lots of Kleenex, lots of whining and crying, and not enough rest. I figured that the best medicine might be a little time away from the tables and some extra time with my Xbox 360...

Unfortunately, my Xbox 360 died at around 9 PM on Thursday night. I'll spare you the details which are available on my other site, The Greedy Gamer, if you're interested. Needless to say, I may take a short hiatus from grinding the 6-max tables once my new Xbox 360 arrives in 2-3 weeks time. I've got a hankering for some Braid, Puzzle Quest, and Half-Life 2.

With video games out of the picture, all I had left was poker. As groggy and feverish as I was, I really wasn't in the mood to grind it out at the $100 NLHE tables. I was in the mood to just play and have fun. That's when I got the idea of trying some heads-up no-limit hold'em. After watching some PokerSavvy videos on the subject and reading about Gnome's recent foray into the world of HUNL, I figured I'd try my hand at those games as well.

I first tried playing some HUNL at Party Poker. Party gave me $10 for free so I figured what better way to try out a new game than on someone else's dime. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that Party does not offer HUNL cash games. So I decided to play some HU SNGs instead. My first HU SNG was a $5 + $1 affair. I don't remember the details but I crushed my opponent in a couple hands. I then tried my hand at a $10 + $1 HU SNG and lost when I got it all-in pre-flop in level 4 with JJ vs. 88. My opponent spiked a 8 on the flop and I was done.

I then moved on to Titan Poker's $20 HUNL tables. Most other sites offer only $50 buy-in or higher tables and I wasn't really confident enough to take my game to that level. I played a few sessions at the $20 tables and did quite well. I could beat my opponents but I couldn't beat the rake.

Sunday afternoon, I decided to go ahead and start playing $50 HUNL. Here are my preliminary observations:

  • Players at the $20 and $50 buy-in limits are not very good.
  • Playing HUNL at the low/micro limit tables is suicide without some form of rakeback or bonus. Over 168 hands at $50 HUNL, Titan Poker took $25 off the table in rake.
  • Position is so incredibyly important in HUNL that you could probably be a winning player (at least at micro-limit HUNL) by simply raising blind on the button every hand and folding all but pocket pairs and big aces in the BB.
  • Patience is crucial. Avoid making tough decisions for big money early in your matches. Watch your opponent, learn how he plays, then devise a plan to beat him.
  • No matter how well you play, variance will be huge. I'm hoping that HUNL teaches me to better handle variance. I have trouble accepting variance and moving on. Until I learn to control this aspect of myself, I'll never play poker very well.
  • You can expect a slightly higher winrate playign HUNL than you could by playing 6-max or full ring NLHE. I believe that a winrate of 10 BB/100 is quite achievable versus the 8 BB/100 one can expect at the 6-max games.
Most importantly for me, I'm hoping that HUNL will teach me to better read my opponents' betting patterns, assign hand ranges to my opponents, adjust hand ranges based on the board and my opponents' actions, and better identify spots where a little refined aggression will help me take down the pot uncontested. These are all skills that I lack in my poker game right now. And these skills are all invaluable if I expect to be a winning player beyond the $100 NLHE games.

Let me leave you with a hand that I played at Titan's $50 HUNL tables on Sunday. I'd already stacked my opponent once and he'd recently starting pushing all-in with every hand pre-flop. I decided to return the favour...

Titan Poker 0.50/1.00
Hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

BB Hero ($96.43)
SB Villain ($28.60)

Preflop: Hero is in the BB with 9 9
Villain raises to 3.00, Hero moves all-in for 96.43, Villain moves all-in for 25.60.

Hero shows 9 9
Villain shows T 6

Flop (125.78) 5 3 7

Turn (125.78) Q

River (125.78) 3

Hero wins $125.78 with Two pair, Nines and Threes with a Queen for a kicker

Have a great day everyone!

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