Heads-Up SnG Action

published on 07/19/10 at 9:54 am

Heads-Up SnG Action

Heads-up SNGs represent the purest form of heads-up SNG play because players start with equal stacks, thus none of the combatants enjoys an initial advantage over his opponent.

Heads-up SNGs have to be some of the most intimidating game-formats ever. One goes head to head with a single opponent, in a test of poker skill that will always reward the guy who deserves to win. There are no distractions and additional opponents who can bail you out or offer you a free ride to a flop: at the heads-up SNG table, there’s only one person you can count on: yourself. The same goes for your opponent, and the knowledge that he’s equally compelled to bring his best can indeed be rather intimidating.

First thing’s first though: heads-up SNGs reward skill. Therefore, if (and be frank with yourself ) you know your skills are lacking, DO NOT play such SNGs. Heads-up SNG action is for skilled action junkies: you’ll get to play more hands per hour than anywhere else, which means you’ll end up paying more tournament fees. Sign up for a rake rebate deal (or maybe even for a poker prop deal) to make sure you do not sink below the red line on account of the poker rake (tournament fees) alone.

The fact that you are a certified action junkie doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be a good heads-up SNG player too. As a matter of fact, many of the action junkies out there like to play loads of hands, but they loathe to get aggressive when required. This type of action junkie represents the shark-bait at the heads-up SNG tables.

Why does skill weigh in heavier in heads-up poker? That’s quite simple: at a full 6 or 10-handed table, you have a bunch of players going past the flop on drawing hands. What that means is that the luck factor will be much bigger, simply because there are loads more possibilities for suck-outs. At the heads-up table, it’s just you and your opponent. It’s a lot like PLO: you’re either truly ahead or well behind – that should make for a much simpler decision, and it also means that good decisions will have a much more direct and immediate impact on the flow of the game.

Coin-flips are some of the most intricate situations in poker, decision-wise. In some situations, taking a coin-flip is the right way to go. In others, it’s a mistake. In heads-up SNGs, you should avoid coin-flips regardless of how tempted you are to bring the game to a quick conclusion. In order to let your skills give you an advantage, you need to have a better win ratio than 50%. Chip away at your opponent’s stack gradually, until you force him to risk his SNG life in less than optimal situations (for him of course).

Drawing hands lose a lot of value in heads-up poker and made hands (like pocket pairs) gain a lot. Drawing hands lose value because you never really get the right pot odds to play them. You can play such hands if you’re set on being aggressive. You should never limp along on them though. Aggression is pretty much the key to the flow of a heads-up SNG, however, I should note that I’m not talking about blind aggression here. Add patience to aggression and you have a killer combo on your hands.

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