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Stay Aggressive. When playing. The 'Any Ace' Concept. You may have heard that you will want to raise with any ace in. Use Your Position to Your Advantage. Trust Your Reads. Change Gears or Prepare to Lose.
Playing a very tight style isn't enough anymore since you won't be getting paid off with those premium hands often enough to counter the blinds hitting you at an increased rate.
On top of that, if you are playing attentive players, they should soon catch on to the fact that you're playing premium hands only, and you'll have a harder time getting paid off.
You have to widen your pre-flop hand selection to include lesser hands to make up for getting hit by the blinds so often. Now as you move to heads-up play with only two players at a table, you have to be playing many if not most of the hands dealt to you.
You will be contributing at least a small blind's worth every hand, and to make up for that you have to play with loose starting hand requirements.
On top of all this, most tournament situations that you will be in are probably going to be low-M situations, essentially meaning you'll be playing with a small stack-size to blind ratio, which adds even more pressure.
You should not just be limping a lot more, because by raising with most of your hands, you will be putting extra pressure on your opponent and increasing the chances that you will win the blinds and antes.
In a typical hu sng tournament, you should be:. You also will have to mix your play up occasionally to keep your opponents guessing, and I'd suggest occasionally limping with a strong hand or raising with a weaker one.
Of course every hand is unique, and the rules I'm laying out for you don't apply to every situation. If you're raised by an absolute rock of a player, then you might reconsider re-raising with 77, for example.
The guidelines I give serve the purpose of giving you a good idea of how to play versus your average online player. Unless you're facing a naturally hyper-aggressive player which isn't uncommon , your opponent will probably be playing a little too tight, and you have to take advantage of that.
Since most of the time neither player will even pair the flop or really hit the board, post-flop aggression is also important. Middle and bottom pairs are often enough to win a hand, and top pair is often enough to stack off with.
Any hand better than top pair should be treated like gold, and you should try to get as much money in the middle with it as possible.
Pre-flop, the value of certain hands also changes. Suited connectors and small suited cards, ideal for multi-way, limped pots which give good drawing poker odds , have now lost a lot of their value.
The actual card values should have more of an impact on your decision rather than the fact that the cards are suited or not. The value of pairs also increases.
A tight player might as well be defined as a weak player when heads-up. I can't stress this enough: aggression is key in heads-up play. Even a hand as weak as 32 off-suit should be limped in with if your opponent is consistently not raising when you do; if not for the sake of looser starting hand requirements, then for the sake of our next topic: pot odds.
Considering pot odds strictly, it is incorrect to fold your small blind pre-flop. Of course, poker isn't played strictly through pot odds, and this example holds true only if your opponent has not been consistently raising you when you limp from the small-blind.
As an example, let's consider this sit and go situation:. Those odds are good enough to call with any hand, even with a lowly 32 as I mentioned. Even in a tournament with no antes, you'd still be getting which is plenty good enough to call; so based on the pot odds alone, it is never correct to fold pre-flop.
But poker is never that simple. If you've noticed that your opponent likes to steal, and you have seen him or her raise several times from the big-blind after you've limped from the small-blind, then you have to adjust your play.
You can no longer limp with any two cards, and should dump the lesser hands. You'll have to use your judgment as to the range of hands you can limp with based on how aggressive your opponent is being.
Here's a pot odds chart to keep in mind. This can be very helpful when playing after the flop to quickly figure your odds of hitting your hand.
Of course you need to consider your opponent's hand in every situation. The Poker Odds Calculator is a great tool for trying different combinations and figuring out how each affects your expected value in the hand.
Getting a read on your opponent is much more valuable heads-up since you'll be playing every hand with him. Pay close attention, and adjust your game accordingly.
This will help to eliminate recognizable patterns in your game. For example, say you've been raising constantly from the small-blind, and you can tell you put your opponent on tilt.
He's all but ready to shove what's remaining of his chips in the middle. You're on the small-blind again, and look down to find AA staring right back at you.
Here would be a perfect situation to raise it up just like you've done all along in the game, and hope he has a smaller pair or something like KJ and feels like taking a stand with it.
Position should also be a huge factor in your decisions. With position on a player, you have the advantage of seeing his move before you have to make yours.
Thus you will be making your decisions on every street with more information available to you than your opponent has available to him.
In heads-up play, the big-blind will be out of position for the whole hand, save pre-flop. It's important to be able to play the endgame effectively in SNGs.
At this point of a SNG, the effective stack is usually under 10 big blinds or it will be in short order. The shallow stacks tend to make the game simple and relatively easy to play.
Generally, you want to be going all in or folding. Which hands you do this with depends on the tendencies of your opponent.
When you are facing an unknown or balanced opponent, it is best to utilize an unexploitable strategy. It was developed and introduced by Lee Jones back in and is still relevant to SNG strategy today.
Essentially, SAGE is a shorthand memory trick that helps you determine if a hand is an unexploitable shove or call. Here is how you use SAGE.
First, you must calculate the Power Index PI of your hand. Number cards are valued at the displayed amount 2 through Then jacks are worth 11, queens 12, kings 13 and aces To calculate your hand's PI, double the value of your highest card, then add the value of your lowest card.
If you hand is suited, add another 2 points. If you have a pair, double the value of one of your cards, add the other one, then add another 22 points.
For example, with , you double the value of the jack 11 x 2 and add the 7, totaling With , you double the eight 8 x 2 , add the 7, then add 2 more for suitedness to total With you double one of the sixes 6 x 2 , add 6 more, then add 22 for being paired to total Once you've calculated the PI of your hand, use the chart below to look up the number of big blinds in the effective stack to determine if your hand has a PI high enough to play.
For example, when the effective stack is 7 big blinds, you must have a PI of 26 or higher to shove and a PI of 30 or higher to call. This shorthand is game theoretically optimal for effective stack sizes 7 BBs or below.
It starts to break down for bigger stacks, so I am including a second short chart with the percentage of hands you can shove or fold BBs unexploitably as recommended by Max Silver 's SnapShove app.
These are great defaults to use when you don't know what mistakes your opponent is likely to make. But when you know he is too tight or too loose, you can deviate from this baseline to exploit him even further.
If you know this to be true about your opponent, you should call him tighter than SAGE suggests.
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