Poker Road Warrior: Heads up at Ultimate Bet
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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Heads up at Ultimate Bet

Lately I have played very little and decided to read a new book to see if that would get me jacked about playing a little Poker. Usually if the book is good that will work. We had our best month ever (Nov.) at the Shark Poker Tour so I have been very busy sending out shirts, setting up tourneys and runnin' herd on a buncha chip tossin loonies.

The Book: The Making of a Poker Player, by Matt Mattros. I really didn't know much about the book but I have enjoyed Matts blog and knew he enjoyed shorthanded limit like I do. Matts Blog

I don't usually say this about Poker books but his writing style is fun and easy to read. When he started to describe how much he enjoyed heads up play it reminded me that I was rusty and really missed playing heads up. Mission accomplished. I fired up Ultimate Bet and started with the $20 sit n gos (hey i'm rusty). 4-1 and feeling good so I move to the $30's. 2-0 and so far not 1 player has okayed a rematch. That is a sign that i'm not too rusty for the 20-30's limits. Even the guy that beat me wouldn't play a rematch.

Off to the UB $40 buyin, 166 lags started and although rusty played close to flawless poker for 3 hours seated to the left of chip leader "erbloore" for the last 90 minutes (nice guy, pic here) erbloore

I'm short stacked (T6500) with 12 players remaining and blinds at 400/800 when this hand came up. Folded around to middle position who raises to about 3000 (very agg, 25K chippies) folded to me in SB and I look at AKo. Time to double up. I push, BB folds and Mid Position quickly calls. Turns up A10s and I like it. A quick thought reminds me that I have lost 4 all ins (when ahead) in my last 4 tourneys to get launched (3 as heavy fav) but I quickly get that out of my head and concentrate on NO 10's or spades! no 10's no spades....NO....river double pairs board J2J28 and our Aces split the pot. Can't catch a break. Two hands later I lose as I should when my 66 got punished by 99. gg nh,ty, yw. shit. Cashed 67 buckers. 1st was 1800 and second a respectable 1000.

I cannot continue to outplay my opponents and lose. It will turn, it always does. Similar situation last week, my AKs loses to A3o all in when his 3 hits on the river.

So back to my new book. Really good shorthanded chapter. Matt likes to play 6 max (or less) online and when he started writing about his first really bad downswing it sounded almost exactly like my first bad run. A few points he made really got me excited to play again so I fired up UB again and played some heads up tonight. 3-0 in the $20 sit n gos and no takers for a rematch (less rust tonight, dominating) when I start playing "vince beck" he starts with a friendly "good luck" then 2 minutes later is saying how bad I am. Chaser, caller, and the dreaded "F" word (fish).

I do frustrate players with my patience at times but we just started vincent! I really study my opponents and try to figure out their patterns. Usually the cards are not real important HU. I'm just pickin away at his stack and he just gets meaner in chat. I tell him I will play him all night if he wants and he can take all my money. I finally trap him twice and its game over (maybe 15 minutes). I hit rematch and he declines! I start giving it to him both barrels. All that talk and no rematch? I'm trying to make his ego do something his talent shouldn't when he types "i'll play you for $100 now". lol.

He secures the table and this one is over even faster. He is steaming so bad now he can't even think str8. all-ins probably 10 times. Swears at me. I just fold and say "i'm not lookin for a coin flip with you, Can we play a rematch this time"?

After I finish Mr Friendly off he leaves and I can't push him for a rematch cause he blocked my Ultimate Buddy player tracker. $110 in about 25 minutes, that works.

I played 2 games of 2/4 at UB for about an hour then shut er down. +$60 in 90 minutes. As usual the UB 2/4 is about as tough as 5/10 elsewhere. I caught some cards and used some ideas from Matts book that I will be trying more (mixing up my game mostly).

Finished off the book tonight and can't say I have enjoyed a Poker book more. The ending is the best part. He placed third in a WPT event for a 700K cash and describes his first final table on TV.

Heads up: Mix it up. Don't become predictable. I will call pre flop with big hands and raise with rags. Check top pair good kicker on flop? Sure. Slow play 2 pair with a flush draw on flop? Maybe. Disquise your hands. The average hand HU is J7. 2/3 of the time you will both miss the flop. Fire bets when you miss. Check raise when you miss. If you find a weak player you will want to hit "rematch" for as long as he/she will. Your unpredictability will pay off much more in game 2...3...4...5.Your read on the opponent will be strong and they will still be trying to figure you out.

I'm trying to trap my opponent for a big pot and pick up a lot of small pots by betting small amounts often. If you are new to heads up be careful with these "plays". Slowly slide them into your game. I feel that the risk/reward is sometimes worth the big pot and of course it accomplishes the unpredictable image I want. But after you see a ton of hands heads up you will smell a trap and muck your hand if your slow play blows up. Let it go...don't fall in love with one hand. Go back to your patient "trapping" game. Watch for good "action cards" on the turn or river. I possible flush or str8 is a great time to bluff.

I see many HU players falling in love with top pair good kicker or pushing all in alot. 1 pair is weak usually (for all your chips). All-in? Weak. You can outplay your opponent without a coin flip. Be patient with the "all in" type player. They are hoping for a coin flip because they are impatient or know that you play better post flop. Let them steal yer blinds. Get KK or QQ and call them and watch them go down with A9o.

To become a strong HU player you need to see a ton of hands. Fire up a table and start practicing. If you prefer tourneys don't handicap yourself against a good heads up player at your next final table. Be prepared, unpredictable and aggressive.


At 9:38 AM, Blogger Slimeface said...

Thanks for that... Just ordered Matt's book after reading your post and the reviews over at Amazon. Sounds like a good read. I have read Harrington's "Endgame" twice and have picked it off my shelf to re-read chapter 12 on playing heads up for the third time. I love playing heads up but find myself playing the 9/18 SNG's most of the time. When I get heads-up in these formats I do well and finish 1st more than I finish 2nd. After reading Matt's new book and reviewing Harrington, hopefully I will be inspired to play more one on one matches.

At 6:50 PM, Blogger imjusthere4thebeer said...

Great post, Steve!!! I'm feeling yer pain about goin in favorite, coming out smoked. Been happening consistantly for a while now (in tourneys... not had much time to play ring). I keep telling myself its a downswing and the cards have to return my way... the dog can't always win.

All that heads up training, you'll have to be looked upon as the heavy favorite in the CheckRayz head's up event on the 14th.

Have fun, GL and talk to ya soon (I'll have to make that my next book after Harrington's "Endgame," which I am just cracking open for the third time)...

At 1:43 PM, Blogger GUMBY said...

Don't you owe everybody who read that $5. There were a few bad beat stories in there. Just kidding. I like reading your blog. I'll play you HU for $20. AP I'm sure you'll win, but it'd be fun.


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