Choosing HU SNG
If you have chosen to play a HU SNG, you should focus on the details essential for this type of poker.
At a good level of playing SNGs, you will be able to make more money per hour than in cash games with the same bankroll. If your ROI from HU SNGs is equal to or higher than ten percent (you win 58 percent or more of your games), then you can take $600, play $22 tournaments and earn $10-$20 an hour almost without risk. Such a thing is almost impossible in cash games with a identical bankroll.
However, this advantageous peculiarity of HU SNGs creates responsibility, discipline and cash management problems. We will try to consider all these issues in full in order to advise you on how to prevent yourself from making mistakes.
Managing your HU SNG bankroll
The first thing you will need to learn to do is to manage your own poker money. To protect yourself from losing all your money during a losing streak, you need to have at least 20 buy-in+rake sums in your account for HU SNG tournaments. Beginners need at least thirty buy-in+rake sums. If you want to play without any serious threat and to not have to worry about losing streaks, then you need between 50 and 100 buy-in+rake sums.
When you start playing HU SNGs, keep your attention towards tournaments with a $1/$5 buy-in. This will give you an excellent opportunity to obtain the basic skills. Even if your bankroll is large enough, do not jump to the next level until you can confidently win at least 60 percent of your tournaments, and have won between 500 and 1,000 times.
Let's say your bankroll is equal to $700, and you have decided to play $22 [Full Tilt Poker] tournaments. You have 31 buy-in sums including rake. However, if you lose ten games in a row, you will have $475 remaining, which is equal to 21 buy-ins. In other words, you can continue playing tournaments with the same buy-in, but it will be harder for you to survive an average losing streak from both a bankroll point of view and psychologically. To protect yourself from psychological problems, such as tilting or big losses causing you to lose your focus, ALWAYS keep to the same principle of bankroll management. If you have decided that you need 30 buy-ins, and you have 29 left, then you should immediately move one limit down. If you don't, you will never be a success either in HU SNGs, or poker in general. You would be better off moving a limit down and playing securely having 40-50 buy-ins, than stay at the level which you cannot yet master, with 20 buy-ins.
Bankroll management is 70 percent of being a success at HU SNGs!
Tilt and winning/losing streaks
Luck plays a role in all forms of poker. It is mostly important during full 9-10 player tables where even being dealt two aces as your pocket cards only gives you 31 percent winning odds, if all the players suddenly go all-in with any cards. The shorter the table, the more the game depends on skill and not the cards dealt, so the role of luck in HU SNG is way more humble …
If you possess certain mathematical skills, courage and the ability to read your opponents, you're likely to win at least 60 percent of your games. However, losing streaks are always inevitable. Sometimes you can even lose ten times in a row when playing perfectly correctly. You are also more likely to tilt and change your playing style involuntarily and unconsciously. You will start to play worse, pay less attention, and you will “successfully” lose ten tournaments or more – not by chance but by your own bad play.
In HU SNG games especially, there is a real danger of tilting. When playing cash games, if you feel yourself tilting, you can always just stand up and take a step back, which of course is the most effective way of combating tilting. However, when you are in a tournament, you have no choice but to play it through until the end.
Try to follow these simple rules:
- Do not play when you are in a bad mood, irritated or upset
- Do not drink alcohol while you're playing
- Do not play if you are tired from work, have slept badly or feel ill. Tiredness is the main enemy of a poker player
- Stop the session immediately after the current tournament if you feel yourself “spinning and reeling” - if you find yourself making hair-brained moves, you're bluffing too frequently, you're over-estimating your own weak cards or you're just feeling tired in general
- Devote more time to the analysis of your deals. If you look back through your hand history in all the tournaments you have played, you'll be able to recognise the moments at which you're about to tilt and fight it. This is a very efficient method of combating tilt – don't be lazy, good poker playing means hard work.
If you do not tilt when playing cash or one-table tournaments, do not automatically think that you won't tilt during HU SNGs. Be prepared for the threat of tilting, and to have your stamina tested. Success in HU SNGs depends not on the way that you fight your opponents, but on the way that you fight your main opponent, that being yourself.
Why do your opponents play HU SNGs?
Playing heads-up is enjoyed by so-called “action junkies” - gamers who thrive upon constant action. They want to play right now, shovelling their chips into the pot. They do not like to have to hang around for their moment of action at a full table, which is why they choose heads-up play instead. Very often you will play with opponents on tilt, whose desire for action is so intense they will often play every hand. However, many of these players collapse under aggressive play. They limp in every hand, call most bets, but throw the pot away if the flop doesn't turn out like they were hoping. These players are very easy to read. You'll get to like them, as most of your profit will come from them.
The HU paradox lies in the fact that most of your opponents will come in and play a game of chance, and you come in to minimize the influence of chance. Who do you think is going to win the most money in the long run?
Actually, when you come to think about it, your work as a HU SNG player involves providing entertainment for bad players. They always have a chance to win, but you have the mathematical advantage. You are the roulette wheel, and your opponents are the roulette players. You MUST lose a certain percentage of games to make the players want to continue playing with you … and play they shall – where there is bait, there are fish.