Relative Hand Strengths In Heads-Up SNG Strategy

Playing Weak And Medium Strength Hands Well Is The Mark Of a Good HU Poker Player
Find Out What Adjustments To Make

About The Author: JackofHeartz is an online poker pro, heads-up SNG specialist and moderator for the SNG Study Group at PokerXFactor.

In Heads-up Poker, some players seem to have trouble with weak hands that have showdown value at the river.  Hands like 3rd pair or Ace hi when you suspect the opponent has a missed flush draw.  For example say you raise the button with A9o and the BB calls.  Flop comes J73 double suited and your opponent checks and calls your flop bet.

The turn is an off suit 2 and you fire again and he calls.  The river is a 3 and your opponent quickly checks.  Your Ace hi has showdown value here but I see players who want to bet here and it just turns your hand into a bluff.  Yes your opponent will occasionally have a 7 or a small pocket pair like 4s here.  But by betting you are folding out worse hands and only called by better hands.  Players will look you up here sometimes with weak holdings.  Take the free showdown and make a note on how he played his hand.

I’m not saying you should automatically check the river if you don’t have top pair or better.  If you are playing a ‘calling station’ who likes to call down weak, don’t be afraid to bet 2nd or 3rd pair for value expecting to be called by 4th pair.  If you’ve been caught bluffing earlier in the match you’ll sometimes get called by Ace high because they think you’re probably bluffing again.  It varies with your opponent but the more you play your river decisions will become easier.  Learning when you hand has showdown value versus the times you should bet the river for value takes some time but it will definitely increase your edge over opponents.

Heads-Up SNG Hand Strengths - Inducing Your Opponent To Bluff The River

One play I like to make in HU SNGs is inducing bluffs from my opponents. An example would be raising JTs on the button and a loose player calls in the BB. Flop comes J74r and he checks and calls the flop. The turn is an Ace and he checks.I like to check behind as well. Very rarely does the Ace improve his hand here but it looks like a scare card for me. Now when my opponent bets the river I call. You’ll see a smaller pair sometimes, a total bluff, and rarely a weak Ace that out drew you on the turn. But most of those hands would just fold the turn. So by checking and inducing the bluff I get value out of some worse hands. Also plays like those tend to frustrate your opponents and cause them to play worse in the match. You don’t have to be as strong as top pair. I make the play often with 2nd and 3rd pair as well. Opponents will usually be less likely to try and bluff you the rest of the match when you snap them off here.

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Heads-Up SNG Hand Strengths - Tilt And Tilt Control

Tilt control is another big issue especially on sites where you can rematch players like Full Tilt. A player spikes a set on the river v/s your Aces and you instantly rematch and have plans of crushing him this time to make up for the suck out in the last game. I’ve had players rematch me while tilting 5 times in a row and every time they seem to play worse than the match before.  If you feel you off your game or some donkey has you frustrated don’t play them again. Take a 10 minute break and clear your mind. The games aren’t going anywhere and taking the time to clear your thoughts and get back on track is a lot better than dumping several buy ins while your tilted.

JackofHeartz Heads-up Poker SNG Strategy Tips continue with these excellent articles:

For a more general overview that could seriously improve your profits check out our mini guides specific to the Heads-up Poker area:


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