More heads up poker thoughts...

Yesterday, I talked about heads up poker play, comparing it to piecing together a puzzle. Today, I'd like to briefly expand on the post, and additionally remind everyone that the CheckRayz Heads up challenge opens for registration at 10pm EDT. Registration can be taken at Celeb Poker in the tournament lobby. The private heads up tournament is open to all members of CheckRayz. As with all CheckRayz-Celeb Poker events, there is no password. However, in order to see the tournament, you must have downloaded through one of the CheckRayz links, which can be conveniently found here.

Heads up...

As the poker tournament progresses, we discussed yesterday that our play is adapting to the stage of the tournament. We're contrarians by nature, so when everyone is typically tightening up around the bubble, we're opening up our offense. Additionally, as the tables shorten, we're becoming more willing to play more hands. We recognize that at shorter tables, more of our hands are playable and have more positive expected value characteristics than at full tables.

The one thing we MUST remember while we're evolving throughout the tournament is to "keep your head up." No, I don't mean stare at your monitor mindlessly. I am referring to being observant to the changes in player behavior at the tables. Ever notice someone, specifically in a rebuy/addon tournament appear to be a total donk in round one and two of the blinds? You know exactly the person I speak of, I'm sure. The guy who seems to be limping with 2-3s (the "baby schroeck" - SuperDonk's alter ego's signature hand). In the event "that guy" is still around nearing the end of the first hour, objectively watch his play. Is he showing down hands such as the 2-3s still or has his play tightened up substantially? Some people like to donk it up in the opening minutes of a rebuy. Psychologically speaking, I have them labeled a donk for the duration, even if they show down only group I hands from then on out, when in reality he was perhaps looking to donk it up in hopes of making me label him accordingly, and thus getting action from me later when "the board obviously missed us all."

Its imperative to know your opposition at all stages of the game. As another example, it would probably be helpful to know that as the tournament progresses and we get shorter handed and/or closer to the bubble, I tend to play more hands and push harder than I normally would. That is because, as I said, I'm opening up the offense, breaking out the "gadget" and "high impact plays" from my playbook in hopes of "picking apart" your conservative, soft "prevent defense." If you knew I was planning to do this, you'd either come at me more aggressively, or you'd be more inclined to play me "man to man"... if not just get out of the way and let someone else battle it out with me. Yes, knowing this would be ever so helpful (just like my knowing you know is helpful as well - gotta love human chess now, don't ya?). Seriously though, if everyone at the table was acutely aware that towards the end of a tournament, with blinds increasing and my M in the red, I'm pushing allin with anything of higher +EV than 10-8 offsuit, the profitability of that move decreases. Why is that? I have factored into my expected value equation that some of the times I will steal a pot uncontested with this move and other times I will be called by a better hand, only to outdraw (read: out-donk) them.

Bottom line, be aware of who's game is evolving right along with yours. More often than not, you'll find the guy you end up heads up with is still playing as if he is at a full table. He'll be putting out his "standard raise" & not as willing to reraise you. He'll fold to continuation bets, or when you jam it on the turn. Unlike you, his game is not evolving as the tournament progresses. He truly begins to believe that you're getting monster hands and betting them... because that is what he would do. When he finally calls or reraises ya, he probably has you beat preflop. Think of what his hand range is when he finally gets around to growing a pair, and play accordingly on the flop, relative to that and how your hand fits the flop.

If in fact, you're up against someone who has adjusted to the shorthanded and heads up play, then think of which hands he'd likely play the way he's playing, observing him for predictable patterns, and adjust accordingly. Essentially this becomes the "I know what you're doing, and I know you know that I know what you're doing game." Far more challenging than the static player, but a lot more fun. Bottom line, keep your heads up the whole way through and know your opposition.

Reminder, CheckRayz $100 freeroll tournament at the poker tables of Poker4ever. Password is available on the CheckRayz poker tournament schedule page. You must be logged in to retrieve the password for the free poker tournament. I will not be present for the tournament tonight, as our ever so "classy" soccer team has a game tonight. Have fun and see you at the heads up challenge!