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HEADS UP!

It looks like I satellited into an FTOPS event.

I was in the mood to play some poker, as per usual, and decided to check out the various sites for a decent HU tournament. I didn't find any scheduled events, but FT had a 64-person SNG for a seat in the HU event at the FTOPs. I don't normally play in FTOP events, but I like tourney dollars and more importantly, I was in the mood for a HU game. Since it was essentially a freeroll (it costs Full Tilt Points, which I don't have any use for otherwise), I decided that I could just have fun with it. Only 1st place paid, so I wasn't taking it too seriously.

HU tourneys are a double-edged sword. I tend to dispose of my opponents quickly, so there can be some serious lag time between rounds. But that works both ways. On one hand, it's annoying because I'm ready to go. On the other, I can do other things, like multitable two consecutive token SNGs (won a token and took the cash in the other one) and bust out of a small Limit Satellite MTT that I thought was NLHE when I signed up. Suddenly a heads up window pops up, I do my thing and I'm back to chilling.

Whatever the case, I really just cut through my competition like butter. I was in the zone, making all the right plays. I sucked out once when it was significant, but otherwise overwhelmed my opponents with betting. I had a definite strategy going that I don't want to go into depth about right now, but the results were highly successful.

When I finished off the guy in the semi-finals, the other match was still going. Since I'd be facing the winner for the seat, aka T$535, with nothing going to second place, I decided to do my homework. I watched the two players and I saw something remarkable. The player with the larger stack was employing...THE EXACT SAME STRATEGY AS I HAD EMPLOYED IN EVERY MATCH THUS FAR. I've seen the phenomenom before, where I could read a particular player at an online table because their thinking or strategy mirrors my own. It's probably nothing more than sheer coincidence and pattern recognition, but I had this guy pegged. When he finally won, I thought it'd be somewhat tricky playing him heads up, since I was able to run over my other opponents whereas the new guy showed more aggression. But I knew what he was doing, so I adjusted my style and actually trounced the guy. My biggest moment of fear, though, happened here:

I had taken a lead to 60,000 to 36,000, and was dealt JJ in the SB. The blinds were 600/1200. I had noticed that my opponent and I both used a min-bet from the SB strategy. Basically, any time I had a semi-decent hand in the SB (and really, semi-decent is being kind), I'd min raise. In my earlier matches it was very effective to build pots when I'm in position or otherwise take down pots preflop uncontested. I saw my opponent, SeoulSurvivor (we'll call him "SS" for short), doing this in his semi-final match, so fairly early in our heads up match, I began re-raising his min-bets, only to see him fold. I think he caught on to what I was doing, because when I began min-raising from the SB, he'd often come over the top, employing once again the SAME STRATEGY AS I WAS, this time, just one level higher. So, with a premium hand, I min-bet to 2,400, only to be raised to 7,200. Awesome! I basically shoved over the top, happy to take 7,200 from my opponent, 20% of his stack. I figured him for crappy cards because, after all, he didn't need much to re-raise me in this spot.

He called time and I crossed my fingers, only to have him finally call. This was even better than a fold, because it was doubtful he was ahead with AA-QQ, and I had a decent chip lead, so I was okay with a cointoss against AQ or KQ if need be. As it turned out, he had 55, so I was in great shape. The flop was 678, the turn was a 4, and the river was a negligible 2. My opponent caught lucky, turning a straight to beat my overpair. While I never expected to win the tourney, this crushed me for an instance, as though it were some higher power saying, "Not tonight, Jordan." But I still had 24,000 left, so I decided rather than sulk, to get right back on the horse. I shook off any disappointment and accepted the reality of the game. Thank god I had the bigger stack.

I crawled my way back from there, eventually getting damn close to even, 41,000 for me against SS's 55,000. That, in and of itself, is a decent comeback. Blinds were up to 1k/2k and I was in the SB with A5o when the following hand happened. As per usual, I was in the SB, so I min-raised. By now, he had tempered a bit, going into a defensive stance. I didn't expect him to raise back at me unless he had solid cards. I was correct, too. He just flat called.

The flop was AAK, rainbow. Nice! SS checked and I bet half of the pot, 4,000. This was also part of my (and SS's old) strategy. I constantly bet half-pot on the flop when I min-raised preflop. It's hard to tell if it is a value bet or a continuation bet, and since more often than not, the opponent has missed the flop, I was able to win many pots with the half-pot bet on the flop. It also, incidentally, works well to train your opponents to fold to the min bet preflop, since they know that deceptive half-pot bet is coming on the flop. SS called the 4,000. I became concerned that he might be slowplaying me here, but I didn't let that fear overwhelm me just yet.

The turn was a 2c, making a club flush draw that was not particularly scary. My opponent checked, so I bet another half-pot, or 8,000. He waited until the 15 second warning and called, upping my suspicion that he might be feigning uncertainty or weakness.

The river was an offsuit 6 and my opponent checked to me again. Since the pot was already 32,000 and I only had about 25,000 left, I thought it best to check. If he had a better Ace, I didn't want to go busto from the tourney. If he didn't have a better Ace, he would likely fold to my all-in bet. At showdown, he had KJo, and I took down the pot.

My constant half-pot continuation bet definitely helped keep my opponent on the hook. It was impossible for him to tell if I flopped a monster or was just continuously bluffing. By the same token, the bet sizes were small enough to warrant a call with a decent range of dominated or inferior hands.

After that hand, we had a few more back and forths, but my opponent took the lead again and was up 58k to my 38k. That's when it was my turn to get lucky. I was in the SB with blinds of 1,500/3,000 and AQd. I kept to my strategy and min-raised to 6,000. My opponent called. The flop was 976, rainbow, with one diamond. My opponent checks and I just shit the bed, pushing all-in for 31,577. I didn't put him on a pocket pair and I hoped the board missed him entirely. I didn't like the idea of waitng for more cards if my opponent missed, since the pot was already 12,000 which was almost 1/3 of my starting stack for the hand. As it were, he had J9 for top pair. The turn was a 5 and the river was a...Queen. For a split second, I thought about how lucky I was. Then I realized that I was just on the other side of the coin; my opponent had his suckout earlier in the game when I was giving the death blow. Thank god for boomerang kharma.

In the final hand, I held about 72k to his 24k. I was in the BB this time with blinds of 2k/4k, so my opponent was desperately short. I had already began the all-in deluge, since he was showing a proclivity to fold. All I really needed was two live cards to push, really, since I have enough to lose and he was giving up so many blinds. At 2k and 4k a pop, that adds up quickly when your stack reaches the 30s and then 20s. He finally had enough when he pushed for just over 24k and I snap called with A9o. He showed Q5o and I took down the game.

I may make a separate post about the HU strategy I employed and outlined briefly here. Its not something entirely new; I think I heard about the min-raise from the SB strategy from elsewhere. But it was effective. It didn't hurt that I've been playing a lot of HU matches lately. Unlike some other games, the HU matches online allow a lot or intuitive play. In an MTT or SNG, it can be hard to get a grasp of the table's feel if you aren't paying the utmost attention. Heads up, I can get a feel for my opponent better since he is in every hand and he is the only thing to watch. Since I'm also in every hand, I have to pay attention.

I've already unregistered from the tournament. I could really use the T$, even though a $500 HU tournament online is very tempting. Eh, what can you do?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:24 PM,

3 Comments:

At 1:11 PM, Blogger BWoP said...

Nicely done!

(Word verification: rewstor)

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

Nice job and nice recap!

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

Unregister, take some of the T$ and play a $215 (or even 2) FTOPS event(s), cash out the rest.

Nice job Jordan!

 

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