Sit and go strategy
Mark writes:
Hi Tony,
Its the happy man again,
I am consistently in the money now, about 80% of the time, but I thought that you guys might be
able to patch up 1 more gaping HOLE in my game.
I counted the results from the last 2 weeks. I have been heads up 67 times.
From those 70 times I finished 1st 35 and 2nd 32
This is an awful leak in my game which is $1,728 in leaked money.

That would make a HUGE difference in my bankroll if I could just cut the second finishes in 1/2
I have read the info on HU on your site and use it like a bible. I jam the pot pre flop with any pocket
pairs 8's or higher and AK-AJ. Problem seems to be that 3/4 of the time a player will wait for a decent hand and add another second to my list.
Is there any advice you could give me on this area of my game? You guys have greatly increased my
skills in all other areas, but you could say, heads up I am hopeless.
I get the same results in the big MTT tourneys at the casino. Out of the last big 4 live tournaments I have entered with 44 players I have finished 2nd 3 times. I really wish there was some sort of guidence you could give me on this area of my game. As you can see from the above results, I seem to have a huge leak.
Thanks to you guys, I managed to widthdraw some funds from my account, leaving the correct bankroll to continue playing properly and buy my special 4 year old brother who I look after
a nice toy to keep smiles all around :)
Many thanks again and really look forward to your reply!
That's great news Mark and it sounds like you have made huge progress with your game.
Let's look at this heads up issue in some depth as it's costing you a lot of money!
To beat the SNG game regularly and build a war chest capable of funding regular MTT tournament entries requires more of an all round game skillset than nearly all other poker game types.
You have to have patience to wait for your hands, the ability to extract the maximum chips when you do play a hand, the nouse to fold great hands like AK when asked to race all in early on, the balls to raise with below average hands on the bubble knowing that you probably still have the best hand anyway and many other skills.
Heads up is one of the areas as you have found where making an improvement to your game can dramatically affect your bankroll and your enjoyment of the game.
Let's face it most players don't give heads up much attention as they always struggle to get near the money anyway.
The basic advice I give on the main site is to only raise all in with an Ace or a pair. Don't stick it all in with KQ as it's easily beat with A2 and anyone shoving against you is likely to have an Ace.
However, now that you have good experience of heads up play it's time to start being a bit more cagey with your play. The issue here is that most average players who regularly get to heads up play are going in level or shortstacked. This is due to the way we play the game - minimising risk means it's always likely that you will go into the heads up battle behind because your opponent has probably taken more risk.
Heads up play requires a whole mindset and gameplay all of it's own and it's why you should not multi table - because when you get to this part of the game you need to know your opponent.
The golden rule of heads up play is always to see as many flops as you possibly can. This is counter to the advice I give for the rest of the SNG gameplay but you need to play heads up completely opposite to the way you would play the rest of the game.
There are several types of situation you will encounter frequently and here is the way I approach them:
Situation one:
You both have 4,500 chips. Blinds are 100/200.
You are the button and get 4,5 spades. You call - your opponent shoves, you fold.
Villain shoves you fold.
You get Q,J and raise. Villain shoves over the top You fold.
At this point you are getting frustrated. But you still have around 3,500 chips and can take this sucker out. If you find a really big hand on the button then calling will trap when he raises all in.
Any big hand you get on the big blind you should raise with - you are likely to be disbelieved.
One way to slow this type of player down is to fold a weak hand early on instead of calling. The villain will then calm down as they suddenly realise they don't have to move all in every hand and have time to play some poker.
Situation two:
Villain is happy to see flops but keeps bluffing at the pot and you have nothing to call with.
This plays itself. You are happy to see the flops and you just need to wait until you connect to make your move.
Situation three:
Villain is very aggressive and keeps raising and reraising at every opportunity.
Agressive heads up players are the most difficult players to play against. You know that as soon as you commit chips to a pot it's going to grow into a big one! The problem is that you don't always have lots of time to wait for a decent hand.
You need to realise that in heads up play any pair is generally good to take it down and when checking a flop queens or kings are usually good as a high pair.
As you get better at heads up play you start to recognise the different types of player you are up against and compensate your own style to accommodate them. If they are overly aggressive then you can back off and let them bluff at you. If they are weak then raising several more hands than you normally would will slowly grow your chipstack against them.
Go and play some six handed limit cash game and this will give you plenty of opportunity to improve your heads up play very cheaply by trying to continually steal the blinds.
Try and realx your play a bit more and not be so keen to shove it all in when the blinds are still low compared to your chip stack. My favourite play is to keep folding against a shover and appearing weak until I pick up a monster and take him out.
Good luck and I'm glad we've got a bankroll builder!