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Bumping Heads

Although I'm not posting quite as much as I did a while back, I've actually been playing poker regularly. I've been focusing primarily on heads-up SNGs at the $5 and $10 levels. I also played a short heads-up cash session against two random players last Saturday afternoon. The cash session went pretty well and I'm looking forward to giving it another go this weekend.

For those of you interested in these sorts of things, my current heads-up win/loss records are as follow:

  • $2 buy-in: 8 wins, 4 losses
  • $5 buy-in: 16 wins, 5 losses
  • $10 buy-in: 3 wins, 5 losses
I've been encountering more aggression at the $10 level than at the $5. That's to be expected, I guess. I'm having quite a bit of difficulty playing against opponents happy to shove all-in pre-flop in level 1 of a heads-up SNGs. I've lost three matches in level one because I happened to pick up a good hand and lost 60/40 - 70/30 coin flip. I also pushed all-in against pre-flop against an opponent I believed to be bluffing. He was bluffing but he called off his whole stack anyway. I guess some people just aren't looking to play poker.

Another big problem I have with heads-up SNGs is that I feel somewhat claustrophobic when the effective stacks are 50 BB or less. SNG players seem to undervalue their stacks when sitting on as many as 30 BBs and tend to start pushing all-in early and often. When an opponent decides to push all-in for t1,000 with the blinds at t15/t30, I have no idea what range I should be calling with. I guess Poker Stove could help. I just hate giving up my edge on a gamble.

I've also been completely owned by a few players at the $10 level. Here are the events that typically lead to me getting killed in certain heads-up matches:
  • I run a small bluff in level 1 and get caught.
  • I flop a decent hand and my opponent (who won't fold due to my bluffy image) catches two-pair or runner-runner.
  • Opponent gets confident, builds up momentum, and starts pushing me off pots. Usually I'm not catching enough to call flop check-raises, big turn bets, or river shoves.
  • My opponent is now on a roll. I can't bluff because I've now been caught on a second bluff or third bluff (I can't just sit back and wait for cards). I'm forced to fold a lot since I have very little fold equity on any given hand.
  • With 10-15 BBs left, I make a stand with a couple broadway cards and get snap-called by a premium hand.
I really hate feeling that my opponent is one step ahead.

I think I'll fare a little better in the heads-up cash games. I think fold equity is a little higher in cash games. I also believe that opponents are more prone to tilt in cash games. And I like the fact that stacks can get quite deep over the course of a long heads-up cash game session.

I guess we'll see how things go over the next few weeks.

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