HU can be the most exciting action filled time you will ever get at the tables.
If you can find someone with low skills but lots of doh and an urge to learn? your bankroll goes up and up real fast and both players are happy.
I don't really have a favourite heads up player, although I do like to watch heads up tournaments on tv
I also don't play heads up on 888poker as I can wait for ages for a game, But I've recently started playing them at another site as I can get another game within seconds of finishing one, I'm getting a mixed bag of results but steadily improving, but it's my biggest losing game in sng's so lots of work needed
That's the main reason I chose this article as this week's discussion, anything that can get people thinking about how and where to improve is good reading in my book
This weeks poker article was written in 2 parts and will be posted in 2 parts (part 2 next Monday) please note the author clearly states that for the purposes of this article he is discussing cash games only Deception and Self-Deception: Part I By Barry Tanenbaum
Conventional poker wisdom tells us that, if you play in a very straightforward manner, you will become easy to read. Your opponents will profit because they will be able to guess your starting hands.
To prevent them from reading you, you are supposed to vary your play. You should raise before the flop in early position sometimes with, say, small suited connectors. When your opponents see this, they will become confused, and suddenly start paying off your good hands because they will worry you might have one of the weak ones.
I am not going to say that conventional wisdom is totally wrong, because it is not. But there is a lot more to playing deceptively then simply playing bad hands before the flop. This article will explore several key principles regarding deception. By the way, I am discussing cash games only in this article.
Here are several things about deception that you need to think about. We will explore them in depth.
When you play deceptively, you are making a theoretical mistake (at least on this hand).
You must have a very good reason to vary your play. "It is time to vary my play" is not remotely good enough.
Varying your play does not necessarily mean playing weak hands strongly before the flop.
You should rarely practice deception by playing strong hands weakly.
Just like bluffing, you are still trying to win pots, not advertise your cleverness. Unless you are forced, do not show the deceptive hand.
When you play deceptively, you are making a theoretical mistake (at least on this hand).
This statement is not as bizarre as it sounds. You could actually consider it my least controversial topic in this article.
Straightforward, honest play provides us with the most profit. If you have a very good hand, you would like to raise with it until you are blue in the face. If you have a draw, you would like to call and see if you get there. (Yes, I know about free cards and current pot odds and stuff. Just go along with the premise here).
That is why it is called the straightforward (or correct) play. When you play deceptively, either playing a strong hand as weak, a weak hand as strong, slowplaying the nuts, raising before the flop without real values, you are doing something wrong.
You are doing it for a reason, of course. You are trying to keep your opponents guessing about what you have. But you would rather be able to play every hand in exactly the optimum way without worrying about that other stuff. If you could do that, and your opponents did not notice, you would make lots more money than you make by being deceptive.
An exception to this is bluffing, especially on the river, in which you are deceptively trying to win a pot you could not win any other way. So river betting, and pure bluffing in general, are topics I am excluding from this discussion.
Here is an example: You raise before the flop with KK, and are reraised by a player you can pretty well put on AA. The flop comes K52. You bet and get raised by a player behind you. You reraise and get raised again. Here you start to think, "If I put in another raise, I will be giving away the fact that I have three kings. I should smooth call, and try to raise later." This might work, and this might not work. (For example, the other player might smell a rat already and check behind you when you check the turn). The one thing you know for sure is that you are costing yourself at least one bet right now.
You must have a very good reason to vary your play. "It is time to vary my play" is not good enough by far.
If you buy the statements above, you will then agree that it must be a good idea to use deception sparingly. Against unaware opponents, you should not use deception at all. Just play your cards the best you can.
The reality is that playing straightforwardly, as rewarding as it might be, is not all that much fun. It is a whole lot more entertaining to make off-the-wall raises, be extra clever, and in general show down some unusual hands and take some extraordinary (brilliant) actions.
If you want to do this for your own amusement, fine. Just be aware that you are not practicing deception in that you are not tricking the opponents, who do not realize they are being tricked. Rather, you are practicing self-deception. You are convincing yourself that by varying your play, you are gaining money. In reality, you are losing money every time you do it.
Let's say you raise with AK and get two callers. The flop comes A84, you bet and they fold. Is this bad? Is it time to whip out a deceptive raise with 87s or start checking the flop when you have top pair? Almost certainly not! This time they did not have anything. Hey, it happens. You were forced to win a small pot.
If you are going to apply deception correctly, you must be able to state, clearly, to yourself, the correct play, the incorrect (deceptive) play you are about to make, and, most importantly, why you need to make this play at this time. "I have not raised with a bad hand for a long time" is not good enough. Neither is "I don't want to look too strong, as they all might fold".
Someone once asked me what to do with pocket aces under the gun if I knew that if I raised, there was an 85% chance that everyone would fold, including the blinds. My answer was to raise with the aces. However, I would also raise with all the other hands I was dealt until they stopped folding.
The above, in a nutshell, is a well-stated reason to be deceptive. You decide to raise with bad hands because your opponents are playing way too tightly, and you want them to loosen up. You do not want to give away my advantage in raising with aces, because you ought to refuse to give people a cheap shot at beating your premium hands, so elect to continue to play your strong hands strongly. This action will also exploit your opponents' tendency to fold too much by raising with weak hands, introducing well-reasoned deception. When the pendulum has swung the other way and the game has loosened up, you can revert to raising only with good hands only and throwing away the bad ones.
OK, you don't have to be that elaborate, but you get the general idea. You need to know why you're doing stuff in poker, and making a deceptive play is one of the most important times to do that. If you cannot explain a good reason to yourself, you should not make the deceptive play.
So far, we have looked at why to be deceptive, and when to be deceptive. In Part II of the article, we will spend some time on how to be deceptive.
In Part I of this article, we discussed when and why to be deceptive. We concluded the you should make deceptive plays sparingly, and only when there is a clear reason why you need to be deceptive, and this hand will help you do that.
We continue with Part II, which discusses what plays to make and avoid in making your deceptive plays.
Varying your play does not necessarily mean playing weak hands strongly before the flop.
In the (admittedly extreme) example we just looked at, the deception was to play weak hands strongly before the flop. That is what a lot of people think of when they discuss deceptive play. Others think the opposite, and believe they should play strong hands weakly before the flop, which is even worse.
Your reputation as a deceptive player can be made without ever making a non-standard play before the flop. This is very important because what you really want, when all is said and done, is to be thought of as a tricky, difficult to read player while in fact playing very straightforwardly. Remarkably, this is not all that difficult to achieve. There are many opportunities after the flop to vary your play and become unpredictable without costing yourself money. In addition, in many games, there are excellent opportunities to make correct plays your opponents will not recognize as such, and they will think you are tricky when you are not.
Let us look at pre-flop play. I once held 77 in middle position. Several players called the blind, and I did as well. After a couple of others called, the button raised. The blinds called the raise, as did all of the other early callers. I made it three bets.
Now this is not a typical play, but we were eight handed, and the extra bet I was putting in was virtually free. (Because we were eight-handed, and the odds against flopping a set are about 7.5 to one, the extra bet I was making was virtually free). Some players like to make this third bet with QJs or KQs, which are big drawing hands, and that is not a bad play. I do not recall seeing this particular play made with 77. As it happens, it worked and I got to show my hand down and win a large pot. Interestingly, I did not flop a set to do so. The flop was 333, and I got action from an AQ and AK, who were sure I had a QJs type of hand.
But I really wanted to talk about post-flop deception. You can mix up your play any number of ways that will make opponents think you are deceptive. You can play big draws strongly sometimes, and not others. For example, you have AdQd. You raise pre-flop and get three callers. The flop is Td5c3d. You lead at it, the next player raises and one other player calls. Your re-raise here is optional. You are getting a fair price on your draw if you raise, as you certainly would with, say, KK. But if you get to show down you hand, your typical opponent will only see that you made it three bets and "did not have anything."
Other similar opportunities include free card plays, raising occasionally post-flop with over cards instead of over pairs, check-raising instead of leading, and possibly even slow playing. Making these plays some of the time makes you fairly unreadable. Proper application of these kinds of plays confuses the average opponent as to what you might have. This effect carries over into the majority of the time when none of these plays is available or warranted, and you play honestly, but get incorrect calls and folds because of your reputation.
You should rarely practice deception by playing strong hands weakly
The whole idea behind playing selective, aggressive poker is to get yourself into a situation where you have an excellent chance of winning. So when you get there, why do so many of you suddenly decide you have to cleverly slow-play, or smooth call, or some other play in which you fail to maximize the edge you so patiently waited to create? They might all fold, you say. Yes, and they might not.
Here is a hand from actual play. A fellow at a $6-$12 table was treating the table to a lesson on every hand. A hand arose in which six players took the flop. The board came 663. Everyone checked to me in last position, and I checked as well. The turn came a 9. Everyone checked again. The river was a 2, and we all checked a final time. The "expert" now showed us pocket sixes! He had flopped quads and never bet. Ever. He then was kind enough to explain to us (at length) that this was the one and only correct way to play the hand. Well, I beg to differ. This was a low limit game, and if he simply bet the flop, some people would have called. They usually do. Here he was being ultimately clever with a monster hand and made no money at all.
Now there is a whole lot more to poker than simply betting the best hand. And there are lots of times when that is not a good idea. But in terms of deception, I really advise you to play your strong hands strongly! And as often as possible.
Now if you begin to feel that playing your strong hands strongly is beginning to work against you, and you feel it is time to do something deceptive to counter that, play a weak hand strongly. Remember the advice earlier that you need clear evidence that your correct play is not working as well as it should.
When you feel deception is really required, do not give up your edge on strong hands. Bet them all strongly. If you have AA, raise before the flop and are re-raised, go ahead and raise again. Do not call because "he might put me on aces." First, people rarely try to put you on anything. They play their own hands. Second, even if most people know you have aces, they still stay in to draw out.
But if you really feel that putting in the fourth bet with AA will give away your hand, then do it anyway! Sometime later, if the opportunity arises, put in the fourth bet with a different hand. Something like 88, AKs or KQs. If they read you for aces, fine. If you get to show down your hand (and hopefully win), they may be less likely to assume you have aces next time.
Note I am not saying play KQs like aces. After the flop, play well. Sure, you might try to represent aces since you feel that is what they think you have (or you would not be trying a deceptive play), but do not get carried away. You are not required to lose more money just because you tried to make a deceptive play.
Just like bluffing, you are still trying to win pots, not advertise your cleverness. Unless you are forced to, do not show the deceptive hand.
One of the stressful aspects of poker is that it is a lonely activity. By that I mean that most of your best plays will remain known only to you. You get to congratulate yourself, pat yourself on the back, cheer silently and go onto the next hand.
If you are doing all of the right things, you will win pots without the best hand. Do not show these hands. An aura of mystery is a far better thing than the momentary rush you will get by showing people how clever you are.
In a recent hand I raised in middle position with QhJh. An excellent player from the small blind made it three bets. The flop came 853, all diamonds. He bet and I raised. He called. When the diamond 2 came on the turn, he checked and I bet. He forlornly displayed his KcKh and tossed them sadly into the muck. I tipped the dealer and stacked the pot. I did not show him my hand. I did not needle him. Far better that he believes he played well, and mucks his winner again.
This topic does not have as much to do with mainstream deception as the others, but if you start playing deceptively, this sort of thing will happen to you. You will be tempted to show the hand for two reasons. One is to get accolades (or some reaction) from the others at the table. The other is that you might be thinking "Here I played deceptively, but if I do not show the hand, no one will know and I will lose all that value from my deceptive play."
Well, you are not playing for accolades; you are playing for cash. At least if you are the kind of player I am writing this for. If your deception works and you win a pot without a showdown! even better. That means you are still hard to read, you can make the same play again, and you have more money than you used to.
In summary, many players are deceptive at the wrong times, with the wrong hands and for the wrong reasons. Proper deception, like all of poker, requires thinking through the situation, having a well-articulated reason, and never losing sight of the fact that profit is your goal.
A rusty old bucket down by the barn sings...I'm going to shine one day.
Hit the nail right on the head with this one wiggy ty .
I wish you would have posted this 3 days ago lolol , it would have saved me some embarrassment lol Oh well , in my case a lesson learned the hard way tends to stick around (at least I like to think it does ) soooo much to learn yet best get back at it ..thanks again .
This weeks article comes from the late Andy Glazer and deals with pairs in heads up situations
The Bet You Can't Call
By Andy Glazer
Most hold 'em players with any kind of experience have learned that "generally" when you are heads-up, a pair, any pair, is about an 11-10 favorite over two overcards. This means, to most players, that when you know you're in a heads-up situation, and you know your opponent has A-K, you're making a good play to call with a hand like 2-2.
There are a few problems with this oversimplified thought process.
First, "generally" a pair is a favorite against two overcards. But the 11-10 figure isn't universal. Some pairs are much bigger favorites than others. For example, two queens are much better than 11-10 against A-K (actually closer to 13-10 than 11-10), because holding the two queens means it's very difficult for the A-K owner to make a straight, and the straights are part of an overcards "outs" against a pair.
Similarly, if your pair of eights is up against A-9, not only are you facing two gapped cards that will have to get very lucky to make a straight, but once again, you are holding two of the cards that often will be needed to get luckily.
Before I leave this relatively less important math behind, just remember that those two deuces aren't even a favorite against all two overcards. J-10 suited makes enough straights and flushes that it's a favorite over 2-2.
So what all this means is, you shouldn't always go gaga when you're heads up and have a pair, and you shouldn't always (when you think you're a much better player) avoid a "mere" 11-10 edge, because your edge might be a lot more than that.
All of this math pales in comparison to some more important strategic considerations, though. Small pairs can be terrific hands in hold 'em after the flop, if you've flopped a set. It seems like such hands win a lot of big no-limit tournaments. And the small pairs aren't bad hands to bet with in heads-up, no-limit situations, because first of all, you might not have to hold the best hand to win. A lot of times, your bet will win the pot for you right there. If it doesn't, and someone with A-K calls your pair of fives, well, you missed your first chance to win (the bet), but are certainly live for the second part. Even taking the aggressive approach and betting, you normally shouldn't bet your whole stack. A solid bet will claim the pot a lot. If you bet a third of your chips, and someone comes over the top of you, do you really want to call with 3-3, where you're a tiny favorite over many hands and a huge underdog to most of the hands someone will come over the top of you with?
But CALLING with these little pairs, especially all-in in no-limit events, is just plain suicide. True, a lot of the time, when you call with 3-3, you'll find yourself having called someone with A-K, and you'll be a small favorite. But you're still really gambling: if you fancy yourself as any kind of good player, you don't really want to be playing a lot of 50-50 hands.
Most importantly, even though a lot of times when you call with your 3-3 you will be up against two overcards, there will be a lot of times when you are up against a higher pair, and then you are really in the soup. Holding 3-3 against someone with 4-4, you're a 4.5-1 dog.
Do you see how much worse calling with a little pair is than betting with it? When you bet with it, you might win with your bet, even if someone has something like 8-8. When you call with it, you MUST finish with the winning hand to win the pot, and you're in a position where probably 2/3 of the time you're a very small favorite, and 1/3 of the time you're a huge underdog. That makes the all-in call with your little pair a truly terrible play.
Your best move with little pairs is a decent sized offensive bet that might claim the pot. If it doesn't, and you don't get raised, flop a set or get the heck out, unless you have the player-reading skills of a Johnny Chan. But if you had the player-reading skills of Johnny Chan, you wouldn't be reading this article.
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