Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Heads Up Strategy

In a heads up match, you need to quickly categorize your opponent. They will usually fall in to one of three categories.

Category A: Weak/Tight This player will call a lot of big blinds and hardly ever raise. They want to see all the cards before putting much in to the pot. When they do raise you should fold unless you have the nuts. There will just be way too many opportunities to buy pot after pot to take any chance when they raise a hand. The one trick this player will employ is a check raise; again be prepared to get away from a mediocre hand. Their big hands will be few and far between and the blind increases are in your favor as you continue to pick up the easy pots. Do not let this player see cards for free. You can literally suck the wind out of these player's sails and watch them flail about in agony. The one adjustment you will need to make is when you get them to the desperation point, be careful not to double them up too easily. Avoid winner's tilt when you have them down and finish them off properly.

Category B: Tight/Aggressive This is a tougher opponent typically but you can still keep them off balance with some strange manuevers. They will usually be trying to put you on a hand, so vary your play to keep them off balance. They will still play too narrow a range of hands usually so you can still pick them apart. Look for suttle differences in their bets on strong vs. weak hands; a lot of times they will value bet their big hands to get more chips and overbet small strength to try to take it down or gain information early. If you can detect just one or two weaknesses early, they will make all the difference as the blinds increase. If they raise 3 times the blind on their good starting hands, offset this by raising 3 1/2 to 4 on yours. Don't get caught up in a battle with them. Learn to feel pressure and avoid it. They will take the lead when they feel they are ahead so you can learn to feel the pressure and gauge their hands by it. Throw in a weird amount once or twice for no reason making sure to keep this random. While it will be random to you, it will mean something to them so be wary not to induce the wrong play.

Category C: Loose/Aggressive This player is just practically asking you to take their chips, but do not get too loose early on. They are king of the coin flip and that's actually their best weapon as they are usually not a strong player post-flop and will try to bluff at just the wrong times. Be prepared to hear how bad their luck has been running that day if you "suck out" on them. They will give you action when you want it so don't get sucked in to playing like them. This player will usually assume that you play like them so if you bet big on the end they will think you are buying a hand and you can get some calls most people wouldn't give you, so don't be afraid to get your chips in on your big hands. Don't get too fancy; they aren't going to notice or fall for anything. Straight up is the way to beat this player. Expect a large variance swing at times against these players but play correctly and in the long run you should win out.

Those three categories will be your normal opponents you will face, and you should be able to learn to beat all of them the majority of the time. Remember there will be lots of variance heads up, so you may have to play a few hundred games against each type of opponent to see a substantial gain in bankroll.

The most fun heads up matches will not be the most profitable more than likely. They will be the few times you line up against someone who has the ability to adjust to your game. You will know when you are against a tough foe. It will wear you out and even if you win you will feel like you got kicked all over the felt. Out of the hundreds of heads up matches I have played, I can only think of about 4 players that I really felt had an edge on me. I learned something new from each of these individual's style of heads up play and added it to my arsenal. I am confident that you can learn to be a strong heads up player. Don't be discouraged if you aren't where you want to be in this part of your game. With practice, it's truly one of the most rewarding and fulfilling parts of poker.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Blinds Ambition Post

This was a short week of work and also a long week all rolled in to one. After returning from Tunica on Tuesday, I had to work Wednesday-Saturday including two 12 hour shifts on Thursday and Friday. My co-worker TJ and I went to The Poker Cat's home game Friday night. I don't have any big hands to report except maybe when I sucked out on Hal by catching the nut straight on the river in an Omaha hand. He was betting enough to prevent a pure chase, but I already had two pair on the flop so I decided to go with it. He called my hand when it hit but had to call a value bet on the end so I picked up a nice pot. I also pushed a hand hard and managed to double up Ben's short stack when he was able to beat the mighty powers of the hammer. We played several games that I don't get to play often including Badugi, 2-7 Triple Draw and Chinese Poker. It was just the right mix of games with the majority of play being hold em'. Thanks again for the invite!!
Jordan and Hoy have both invited me to join them in AC for the WSOP Circuit tournament on the 10th of March. Unfortunately it looks like I will probably not be there until around the 15th but nothing is in stone yet so there's still a chance I may go up early.
I'm trying to work "Weekend at Mookie's" in to my schedule but I don't know yet if I can swing it. I may have to skip it if I'm going to the summer get-together in Vegas which I don't want to miss.
I didn't talk much about the cash tables in Tunica in my last post so I wanted to give an example of the play: Hand 1. This was a 4/8 limit table with 9 players. The pre-flop, flop, and turn bets are all capped by five players with all but one folding to a river bet. The bet was called and won by someone who had paired a three in their hand on the turn and they won a $336 pot with a pair of threes (no, not a set, just one 3 in their hand and one on the board). Now maybe you can understand what I meant by not being able to leave the limit table I was on to play some no limit.
Good luck at the tables this week everyone!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

+EV Trip

I just walked in the door and I'm glad to be home. I had a great time in Tunica and the cards ran my way pretty much the whole trip.
Our flight on Sunday wasn't until after the tournament I wanted to play at Gold Strike had already started so I just settled in to a cash game for the evening and made plans to play the tournament the next day at The Grand. I won about a hundred at a 4/8 limit table.
The Saturday tournament started at 1:00. It was a 65 dollar buy-in with 53 entrants; not exactly the tournament I wanted to play but here we go: The blind structure was fairly good for the first hour and a half and they started us with 3,000 chips which kept it from being a crap shoot early. I just stayed tight and smart for a while and worked on getting reads and picking my spots. I'm not crazy about my first big hand but it worked: K 8 suited in the big blind and a guy in mid-position min-raises it to 200. One caller in late position, small blind folds. I decide to see a flop and run if I don't hit it hard. Instead I hit it scary... K 9 8...yikes, I could get in trouble here (stay smart I keep thinking). The bets don't get too crazy and they both slow down after I smooth call a large bet and call and I win the hand for a nice pot. Then I go card dead and the blinds go up and up.
17 players left in and I'm probably the shortest stack left with 3,000. The blinds are 500/1000 with an ante of 200 and I am the big blind with A9. It folds to the small blind and he bets me all in. I call and he has KJo. We hit nothing an I win with Ace high to double to 6,000. The very next hand I get AK of spades in the small blind. There's three people all in before it gets to me and I decide I have to go with them and the big blind goes as well. I quintuple up when my King pairs on the river and a big stack wins the side pot to eliminate the other 3 players. This propels me to the chip lead and in two hands I went from the shortest stack to the chip leader. The blind structure was terrible after this and the rest of the tourney went fast with a lot of pushes. I stayed out of the way and let them kill each other off for the most part. I knocked out the 3rd place finisher but I was much shorter than the leader so I made a deal with him for a little more money than 2nd was paying.
I played some more 4/8 limit and won a couple hundred that evening. They were also spreading 1/2 no limit and 2/5 no limit the whole time I was there but I was really enjoying the limit game. I'll more than likely play some no limit next month when I'm there.
I'm almost positive I'm going to Atlantic City in the middle of March as well. I have meetings near DC and it's not a terrible drive from there.
Good luck at the tables everyone!!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tunica Trip Upcoming

I fly to Tunica Sunday. Unfortunately I will not arrive in time to play the tourney at the Gold Strike, so I will settle in to a cash game and try to play a tourney on Monday. I will be taking some notes of some key hands and post some of the more interesting ones when I return. I am going to start a monthly weekend trip to Tunica beginning in April. I have lined up a driver to take us so that I can rest during the trip. We will leave Atlanta on Saturday mornings and play cash games that evening. We will depart Tunica on Sunday when the Gold Strike tourney ends. It's a $175 buy-in for the Sunday tourney and from what I hear there is usually a large field. If anyone is interested in making one of these trips with me let me know.