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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 10-27-2009, 07:25 PM
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Hello, please send an email to s.nostalgica at gmail dot com, and give me a brief history of your poker experience, games you play, why and what type of coaching you want (I prefer hand history reviews as first as mentioned because it is difficult for me to find time slots that I will be certain about). If possible, your sn and some results/stats would be useful too.
  #12 (permalink)  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:42 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 300

I must add that I will charge $15/100 hands for large bundles of hands (500+, or 10 separate tourneys). The cost for individual hand histories will remain because for multiple hand histories, the advice will overlap and take less time, and I really do encourage more hands in case I mistake one-time mistakes for tendencies, which is quite possible over a small sample; 5x more hands will not take 5x more time, and will definitely provide my with more insight with your game, so I do not want to deter potential students from that.

In any case, I have an early draft of an article I plan on posting on 2+2 in the future....

Transitioning to Low Limits HUSnGs


I feel that I have a more than adequet understanding of the game, and there that is enough of a gap in articles for new HU SnG players that I feel a short article focusing on the transition to HU SnGs is worthwhile. Furthermore, HUSnGs are attractive to micro or small stakes cash game players trying to learn headsup and improve their hand reading and various skills emphasized in headsup play. This is due to HUSnGs' availability at lower buyins and the comparatively lower rake than HU cash of similar buyins, for instance, .10/.20 and .25/.50.

There should be enough information in this article to acquaint even new poker players with the HUSnG format. HUSnGs are not easy to be masterful at, but the level of competition lower stakes is soft enough that even a new player with a sufficient bankroll can maintain and eventually build a bankroll playing only headsup from the onset. That said, this article assumes a semi-competent level of understand of basic poker theories and terms, and will be geared mostly towards players moving from micro/small stakes cash games to headsup.

I hope that some will benefit from the observations in this article.


As there is already a wealth of knowledge of Nash and push/fold ranges, I will not discuss this in detail, as it is quite straightforward and most players will know about this already; if you are unfamiliar, a simple search should suffice. Just use the chart, and follow the push range and adjust the calling range appropriately (it is not correct to call with the Nash range if villain is playing much tighter than Nash, as they often are).

Instead I will discuss the overall game plan to HUSnGs, first focusing on the start-mid stages, and how they compare to other games that newer players would be more familiar with. For now, at 20 or less bbs, itís probably okay if a new player just follow a Nash push/fold chart when appropriate, especially since that awkward stack size gives less experienced players the most trouble generally (or so Iím told), and Nash makes it a lot simpler. It is important to note that a strong mid-late game is vital for success, but I believe it is still fairly straight-forward, and more a matter of experience and understanding of gameflow instead of theory discussions on how to play A3s to a minraise 22bbs deep and so on, as the answer would invariably be "it depends".

In this article I plan to cover three main topics: Game Plan, Stacksizes and Preflop Game, Betsizing and Postflop Lines. I have decided to focus on these aspects because it is here that HUSnGs differ most from cash games, and as such may benefit a new HUSnG player the most.

At the end, I have included a short glossary of terms and explanations of basic theories in case some readers are not familiar, as well as some basic miscellaneous advice.

Game Plan:
Passivity and Flop Play Focus

For micro stakes cash games, I generally advocate a looser game plan overall to expose the new player to more marginal situations, and it is clear that proper aggression is vital, even at stakes where allegedly donks can never be bluffed. That said, for HUSnGs I personally advocate generally approach the game with a bit more passivity than usual, especially at lower stakes, that is, $20~ and under and again poor players, as it lowers variance and allows players a chance to develop reads and more accurately gauge the EV of their various place. In practice this means checking back a lot more flops when hero has showdown value instead of having a very high cbetting frequency, and preferring delayed cbets on certain flops against predictable opponents, or checking for showdown with ace high, king high, or bottom pair type hands.

NB: It is still recommended to raise a wide range on the button and begin by cbetting often. When the phrase "more passivity than usual" is used, the relative nature to this statement is crucial, as one should still be playing much more aggressive than what is expected from loose passive players. Passivity in this article merely means opting to pot control in spots where the EV of cbetting is unclear due to uncertainty in villain's call-down and c/r bluff ranges.

Continuation Betting Versus Checking Behind with Air and Marginal Hands

There are nonetheless merits for cbetting at a high frequency, at least for the first few hands, as it is cheaper to discover a villain's tendencies facing cbets at lower blind levels. Similarly, it is useful to find out how villain reacts to delayed cbets, smaller cbets, minraises, or limps earlier on the game so as to allow better application of these plays in late game where these tactics would be vital due to decreased SPR. This is true even if plays such as limping or minraising at 75bbs may not be optimal in a vacuum, since the difference in EV early game are worth less in EV than the effects of additional information in late game where each play will have a more significant impact. The value of information and knowing to what extent you should apply information can often be significant, perhaps especially against bad players whose tendencies you cannot predict accurately before a game begins, as opposed to regulars who most likely has a reasonable range. This allows you to adjust your stack off and/or call down range, which can often be significant as one large pot can often decide the game.

A good balance between the two approach needs to be sought, which allows the hero to find out enough information about each play as to weigh the merits of each, not the mention constantly adjusting tendencies will give the hero many opportunities to gain a metagame advantage. How this balance is acheived can become a point of stylistic preferences, as in many situations the EV of either can be close, but the general rule is to prefer passivity against less predictable players, of which there are many at lower stakes.

It is advisable to tend towards aggression at the very onset, but be very ready to adjust to a more passive game as soon as the villain has shown himself capable of calling down wide or play back to a degree that can make cbetting 100% less profitable (important to note the distinction between less profitable and unprofitable). It can be argued an aggressive early game lets you get paid off lighter in the future, but the reverse is also true where you can bluff/double barrel bigger pots if you have been passive early. Furthermore, villains are often playing on level 1 only, and it is often fine to simply check behind as the preflop raiser when you have no equity, and c/f to a turn bet or delayed cbet.
  #13 (permalink)  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:44 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 300


Flop Focus in HUSnGs

There are several reasons for taking a less aggressive approach cold in this format, but I shall begin by pointing out that unlike cash games, a lot of the emphasis is shifted from the turn to the flop in common single raised pots in HUSnGs. Flop action, then can lead to very big pots, which could be devastating as it would be difficult to play these situations optimally without any reads or way to gauge your villain's level of sanity aside from sharkscope, and besides, many of the fish that players aim to sit with will have played very few matches, making even that method obsolete.

In common single raised pots in a cash game, the flop play is generally not singularly critical. It is still very important, but the key factor is that the flop action does not essentially decide the hand, as there will often still be many options available after. For example, players will still have many factors to consider after a flop check/raise and a peel, whereas a check/raise after a second barrel will effectively have forced an immediate stack-off decision (100bbs deep).

HUSnGs, however, are more "flop-centric", as the SPR (Stack-to-Pot-Ratio) often means that the flop action determines the rest of the hand on wet boards. Even at low blinds, whether the flop goes c/c, c/r, or check check-behind can a have huge impact on the size of the pot if one player were to have a showdown hand (TPNK or middle pair), and the other has a stronger hand, draw, or bluff. A check raise on the flop would allow the aggressor to 3 barrel the entire stack. If the flop gets checked behind, on the other hand, even if the PFR bets the turn and gets checkraised, he needs only call 2 more bets, which depending on raise sizing, might not be committing. In fact, the turn will often go c/c or bet and call, because draws would then have less equity and would prefer not to bloat the pot, and the PFR would also prefer to pot control with the medium strength hand, and instead of both players stacking off with marginal hands as may happen if there is a bet on the flop, only one bet goes in on the turn, and either there is a small bluff on the river, or it goes check check or check bet fold, even with the exact same hands.

A player at uNL cash games can be expected to profitably cbet a large percentage of times and get a decent percentage of folds from opponents, having initiative and often position, even though hero can have close to 100% of his preflop range after cbetting a certain flop. Villains would often prefer to make hands and find more profitable spots to make plays in, and weaker players to make them against.

Lies Heaped on Lies; Barrels Forced by Barrels

Pots are naturally always headsup in HUSnGs and the hero is isolated with the villain at all times. The villains will be more aware of your cbetting frequency as well as the fact that "players rarely make hands" compared to 6max/FR where players generally have stronger hand ranges and there are more players to a flop on average. Bad players do not realize how bad calling weak hands OOP or how difficult it is to show down marginal hands, and thus will often be calling down too often as an overadjustment. As such, the hero's standard cbets will get floated, peeled, or raised with a higher frequency than in 6max/FR games, especially when hero is perceived to have a very wide raising and cbetting range, as often he should. It is a fairly standard to peel, for instance, AJo for value (not as a float) on a board like 844, even OOP, and some villains will take it further and peel with even just random overcards with little or no plan on how to bluff the pot on future streets, simply because "you usually have nothing". When villain has a range of lots of weak pairs that will be afraid of the turn (9+ basically) or even unpaired hands, it becomes unprofitable to cbet without plans of how and when to double barrel.

When hero has no read on villain, however, it can be quite costly to put oneself in a situation where it would be criminal not to double barrel against "sane" players (aforementioned 844 board with K turn, for instance) when one is unsure if villain will ever fold a pair or their gutshot, and does have a good idea of their opponent's peeling range. If indeed it has a lot of overcards and gutshot type hands that he will give up on the turn, double barreling would be +EV, but against a player with a tighter peeling range (but a reasonably wide call-down range), one should then just check behind the turn. One additional issue of double barreling is that a lot of the added fold equity (the threat of a big third barrel) is lost against weaker players because they do not think ahead and will just call, causing both players to be stuck in an awkward situation on the river. Double barreling against players who call with the most marginal of draws and weakest of made hands on the turn but may fold river will often put you into situations where you should not double barrel without the plan of triple barreling certain rivers, which would then put the hero into a situation where he needs to triple barrel and bloat the pot and risk a great amount of chips without any certainty about the villain's range, where the EV is unclear or negligible, and the variance extremely high.

By checking back instead, and balancing your check-back range with call-down and delayed air cbets , a player can avoid situations where double barrels could potentially be profitable, but may also be burning money and as a result, actually less EV than checking back and proceeding with extra information on the turn.

Forcing Passivity with Passivity

Another important reason, already alluded to, for shifting the focus from the flop to the turn by checking back is because players are far more likely to make plays at the pot on the flop with draws because they have more equity. The shallower stack sizes of a HU SnG means that unlike a cash game where one raises a draw gaining fold equity by the threat of future bets (especially in position for 100bb+ stacks), one raises a draw in an HUSnG mostly hoping the opponent does not have top pair or better or that they have enough behind that the raise would commit the raiser to a second barrel shove bluff with draws, thus actually forcing the original bettor to fold a semi decent hand like top pair unless they plan on committing almost regardless of turn. Very often the raiser would semi-bluff hoping for a fold, but with plans of raise/calling a shove with hands such as flush draw and one over or gutshot and two overs such as KQ on J9x. Depends on stack size and reads, these plays can be absolutely standard at around the 30-50bb level, and not from "maniacs" merely, as these hands would in fact have very good equity against the hero's entire range, and decent equity against a stack-off range.

If the flop was checked behind, on the other hand, the player with KQ may be more willing to go for their equity share and simply lead a small amount, or check to call or show down K high, allowing you to show down your marginal made hands for a cheaper price, as they would be less willing to check raise the turn, and also be hesitant to double barrel turn and river, knowing that you know they know you are weak, but will often be in check/call mode and have an unclear peel/fold percentage, making the EV of them barreling the turn and river barrel far more questionable, and which dissuades weaker and less astute players from doing so at the right time, or, in the other hand, make aggro players do so even when it is clearly the wrong play. This is especially true if it is possible the check behind let the raiser improve on either the turn or river, in which case it would be very unlikely they would fold (checking behind gutshots and/or overcards that hit). For instance, if the raiser checks behind a 226r flop, and the turn comes a rainbow K or A, it would make little sense for the villain to lead the turn as the turn improves the aggressor's range far more than the BB's, which means some turns can return partial betting initiative to the original raiser despite the flop check, allowing for delayed cbets, floats against bad stabs, or just checking behind for showdown and/or equity.

NB: Against better players, it becomes more important to check back stronger hands (such as TPNK) to protect your check-back range. This is especially effective if said hand does not deal well vs a check raise, but is sufficiently strong that you have a lot of equity against worse hands and will not be worried about getting drawn out on, and not expect to get called by worse very often due to board texture. Not only does it protect you from playing a bloated pot, it also gains some additional value for inducing bluffs or even allowing villain to improve to a hand that can call down.

A good example of this is something like J3s on 25Jr against a players with a fairly tight OOP calling range (as well as a tight 3betting range, as this means that AJ KJ and QJ are much more prominent parts of the villain's range), as villain is less likely to have bottom or middle pair type hands that can pay you off, and have enough stronger Jx hands that the hero may value town himself against, and also because good players will raise said better hands on as well as air on this sort of dry flop at a frequency which makes make TPNK difficult to play.
  #14 (permalink)  
Old 10-31-2009, 01:44 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 300

In Summation

Whereas in 6max cash games pot control often happens on the turn, pot control in HUSnGs, at lower stakes at least, is easier done on the flop, because action on the flop more often decides the remainder of the hand than the turn at these stack sizes. Whilst not cbetting means you cannot protect your equity share, you also get the advantage of not being bluffed off your hand by decent draws and by picking up bluffs from opponents, and thus is not always merely a "lower variance" play, but in fact a higher EV play, especially if it minimizes the possible errors a player can make against a player whose tendency one is not familiar with.

At these stakes, players are uncreative and unlikely to notice your checkback range, for all their ability to raise with absolute trash, and thus there is little need to balance, meaning that delayed cbets can be very useful. Those that could give some trouble would be the players who auto-bet if checked to, and are just bet happy in general, but those can easily be exploited through either bluff-raises, traps, or call-downs.

Being in position is supposed to give the player information, but when villains check to the raiser as a standard regardless, the significance of that information becomes doubtful. It is ironic to note that because check-back ranges should be wider than expected or "preached" in uNL 6max cash games, players generally misplay their hands because they do not understand that ďdonkĒ betting is actually needed, being one good adjustment vs a player who checks back a lot of flops.

Again, I must stress that I say all this in a relative sense, as I am still a lagtard at heart. A player's cbet frequency should still be fairly high, and if you are not experienced enough to tell when to call down with ace or king high, it may be best to cbet dry boards anyway as protection bets and with bluffs also, unless your villain has shown himself very willing to call down with all better hands, and raise draws or bluffs. In general, trying to see what villains show down in these spots will be very useful, as it allows a player to adjust one's cbetting range/frequency more appropriately on different board textures, and have a better idea on optimal double barrel ranges, which, without reads, should as a default generally only be when a) hero have significant equity and some fold equity b) villain's hand range is extremely weak considering turn card and a second barrel has a significant amount of fold equity.

The next chapters include discussions on Preflop, mostly on validity of minraising vs limping, how and when to adjust raise sizes, limping dynamics, limping exploitatively vs balanced (limping 100% unraised hands vs limping to limp-call, and finally limp-reraise ranges), and then some on <25bb stack play, though I do not elaborate too much on shove/fold, I will talk about non-nash strategy, limping, minraising, and calling OOP at shallow stacks, and of course, dealing with limping yourself. In it I will give some basic ideas on preflop ranges also, but mostly on advice on how to approach preflop, as I detest charts.

Last chapter is on postflop lines, playing draws, strong hands/nuts, and weak showdown hands vs various opponents.

I am quite busy so I do not expect to have it done any time soon, but those who are interested in it, tell me and I will send a message when I am done and have posted it.
  #15 (permalink)  
Old 11-03-2009, 03:18 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 18

I still don't see the problem with posting a graph to prove your results?

I've been watching a guy who makes videos of HUSNG's and he posts his screen name and graphs:

$10 Heads Up Sit & Go

Seriously I just can't see the issue if these guys don't mind?
  #16 (permalink)  
Old 11-04-2009, 11:19 AM
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Posts: 300

I want my SN to remain anonymous for obvious reason; this is HUSnGs, not cash where you can just sit out. I have made enemies sitting regs and so on.

In any case, I only have my netbook with me, this is all I have for data (I have not played any sngs aside from the tiny stakes ones since posting due to problems in real life, which is why I have such a low volume).

I would also note that I'm having my first student, whom I hope will give a favorable review eventually after a few sessions.
  #17 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2009, 02:55 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 5

I took Nostalgica up on his offer of reviewing hand histories and giving me tips. I figured, for the price he was charging, I had nothing to lose. So far, Iíve had him review histories from about 10 sng tourneys Iíve played in. His tips have been very in depth and have answered a lot of questions I had about what to do in different situations. I since easily made back the monies I paid him, and then some. Which I donít think would have happened without his help.
Anyone considering taking his offer had better do it now before his coaching business gets off the ground and he starts charging what itís actually worth. Nostalgica obviously had a wealth of knowledge on heads up sngís (just read the article he posted) and heís basically giving it away at this price. I definitely plan on continuing this coaching relationship and hopefully moving up the levels with his help. Right now Iím playing $5 and $6 HUsngís. Iíve learned I have a lot of leaks, so Iím working on plugging them.
  #18 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2009, 01:00 PM
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Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 105
Default sounds sketchy

This all sounds sketchy to me. Only Urbansprawler would be able to say if this guy is legit or not. Making all kinds of money in graph and will work for tips, I call BS. No history with this wannabe junior member. I think he is a flake if you ask me.
"The Tiltmonster lives under my couch and he is real."
  #19 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2009, 05:17 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 999

I'm pretty sure this guy has nothing but good intentions. The question if he's good.

I don't play HUSNGs often, but if anyone wants I could do a session with him and report back.
  #20 (permalink)  
Old 11-23-2009, 06:36 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,954

Originally Posted by Nwodwols View Post
This all sounds sketchy to me. Only Urbansprawler would be able to say if this guy is legit or not. Making all kinds of money in graph and will work for tips, I call BS. No history with this wannabe junior member. I think he is a flake if you ask me.
You offer 5-buyin-per-hour 10NL coaching with questionable qualifications, this guy offers coaching where you only pay if you're satisfied, and his is the sketchy one?
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