Questions and Answers
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ThorsHammer: What kind of study advice would you give to someone WHO has a background in micro-/small-stakes MTT's or SNG's (recreational but winning player) and WHO would like to give a shot at fulltime hucash? Coaching is not an option at the beginning due to Money constraints.
September 30, 2013 16:59
I started with MTTs and SNGs myself, which I think is a great place to build a foundation for your game. If I was trying to move into HU Cash from there I'd definitely start with small stakes HUSNGs. The transition will be less dramatic because you've already spent some time playing heads up at the end of your MTTs and SNGs. Additionally, the stack sizes will be more familiar for your so the only big adjustment will be working with heads up hand ranges. There is plenty of free and useful information in forums and with various training sites that will help you make that transition, and once you build a bankroll you'll be able to make your way into low stakes HU Cash more comfortably. This should help you break down the transition into two stages (full ring to hu, then short stacked to deep stack), rather than diving in all at once.
Scarmaker: Hey Kevin! First of all, thanks a lot for doing this! Given the recent happenings, I guess what I would like to ask you first is what is your tike on 1) the HU cash bumhuting causing loads of stalling tables to be open in the lobby 2) PokerStars approach of handling this issue? Thanks a lot!
September 30, 2013 20:17
Hey man, thanks for the warm welcome, happy to be here. Bumhunting is a really interesting topic and my opinions on it haven't been constant throughout the years. Originally I thought king of the hill was the only fair option (or something I hadn't heard of that simulates the idea) because it distributes the money to the best players. The main issue here is that it's short sighted. First and foremost there's no fun way to let recreational players participate in a king of the hill format. Poker is supposed to be entertaining for the people who will lose long term and that's how we survive as an ecosystem. If they're being hunted by the best in the world and lose almost every time they sit down, they won't stick around for the long haul. The alternate side of the argument is that the people who won't contribute positively to the economy (bumhunters) are going to secure wins because they don't have to fight for their spot in the lobby. I understand the concern but I'm also not convinced that it's fair to remove them from the equation because when it comes down to it, everyone who plays for a living is looking to make money and play people who they think they can beat. I battle regs every day but that doesn't mean that if I'm getting crushed by someone who is better than me I'll keep fighting until I'm broke. There's not a perfect solution to this question because heads up is a predatory game by nature. Pokerstars is doing an excellent job of taking this all into consideration and trying to work around it. I'm excited to see what they do with the lobby by the end of the year because they've generally been the best in the business in just about every way.
bepoker555: Hey Kevin, I recently started to play the poker games, but I was wondering how did you know what kind of 'game style' was your best, how did you end up with playing Heads-up so frequently? where did you start? and how did you realize playing HUNL was your way to go? And congratulations to that wonderful graphic of earnings. (and thanks for doing this!)
September 30, 2013 21:27
Really I've played just about everything and stuck with what I enjoyed the most. In 2007 I was playing mtts and sngs, in 2008 I was playing 6max cash games. In 2009 I played HUNL cash and in 2010 I mixed in HUSNGs. I felt the most comfortable with heads up probably because it's a pure and straight forward format of poker. It's very challenging strategically but I think it fits my strengths as a player well. That said, I expect to branch back out into other games because HUNL is getting nothing but tougher. I think it helps to be well rounded for the long term but specializing in HUNL was definitely a good choice for my development as a poker player.
nicusor93: Hi Kevin, it's my pleasure to meet you. Good job again for your winnings in HU cash games. I want to ask you, i tryied to play some HU , but don't worked for me. What it's the best method to win a HU cash game versus a guy who folds any cards, and then when he's good he raise? The second question it's what it's the important "skill" for amateurs, to be agressive or to wait a good opportunity to win a big pot, maybe all in? My last question it's, for me, i'm amateur yet, PL or NL HU cash games? Thank you a lot, nice to meet you again, hi from Roumaine !
September 30, 2013 23:39
The first player you're describing is a nit, who can be frustrating to play because it takes a lot of discipline. Realizing where you're making your profit is key to maintaining an edge in a heads up match. Against him, you're winning it in small pots by forcing him to fold too much. Stay disciplined, make folds you normally wouldn't in big pots, and continue to attack every chance you get. The second situation is very player dependent, all amateurs are going to play differently. The classic loose-passive fish is becoming less common by the day and often you'll find that amateurs are now looking to bluff early and often. You have to start off by using your best judgement and avoiding making and hero folds or heroic bluffs. The nice thing about an amateur is that he'll have many leaks rather than just a few, so you'll spot them quickly and be able to adjust faster than you would against a pro. For your last question I don't think there's a lot of available PL games, but maybe on the networks you use they're more popular. I'd stick to NL because that's where the games tend to be, but the difference between the two formats is small and shouldn't affect your choice as much as whether or not you can get a good game.
Scarmaker: I am wondering, could you name one or possibly two/three most common leaks among regs you have encountered throughout your career that you have made the most money off?
October 1, 2013 02:32
Probably the leak I'm most comfortable identifying and countering is a player who is trying to follow a system that they were taught by someone else. As someone who used to be very involved in the strategy forums it's easy to spot a common strategy and extrapolate from there how I can adjust to their expectations. That's becoming more uncommon as I move up in stakes now and the biggest leaks primarily concern balance. People are not great at identifying spots where they need to bluff or need to value bet based on their own ranges. They tend to simply make assumptions about how you'll react to their bets and go from there. It's an approach that works against someone playing a fixed strategy but not against a tough opponent.
Scarmaker: I have checked your live results on hendonmob and it seems you enjoyed some success in tourneys despite being it a completely different format. Does not this motivate you to play more 6-max cash games for instance? Do you even ever play anything besides HU?
October 1, 2013 02:34
I rarely play non-HU games online, but I like to travel to live events and see new places. I'm going to Macau, New Zealand and Australia this winter for that exact reason. I said before that I'm definitely looking to branch into new areas of poker because of the state of the games in heads up. Having a foundation in a tough theoretical game like HU makes me confident that with a little time spent on the structural adjustments I'll be a tough player in 6max cash or even in PLO.
fulixas: Hi Kevin ! Im playing hu hypers , 7$ 3.50$ and I always go allin with any A , so do i have to do it or i have to play different ? any tips? :P
October 1, 2013 12:17
Hypers are a sick game and generally I avoid them. Admittedly my short stacking game is weak but make sure you familiarize yourself with the Nash Equilibrium strategy. You can find the charts here: http://www.holdemresources.net/h/poker-theory/hune.html The games start at 25bb now I believe which means you should be using this chart more for 3betting ranges than for button ranges at the early levels. That said, 2 levels in you'll be at 10bb and nash should be your default strategy because it's unexploitable.
BlooDyG23: Hello Kevin! I am a MTT player,but sometimes i play 0.25 $ - 0.50$ HU and i'm not so good at it :) I always start tight preflop like folding every opponents raise in a first 10 to 15 hands and i tight my range..i fold to any raise and i rarely call when i am in position too...then i start to play more aggressive preflop,raising in position,3 betting, and playing some pots,and im trying to be aggressive as much as possible after i see the flop... Is it better to be more aggressive or tight pre and post flop,and what should i do to improve my game? Thx a lot,Milan.
October 1, 2013 13:29
Heads up is a very loose game preflop, so it sounds like your default approach is going to bleed money. It's almost always correct to play 90-100% of hands from the button and depending on your opponent's strategy you can almost always play 50%+ from the big blind. My advice is generally to default to aggression but don't disregard your better logic that will carry over from other games. There are plenty of smart situations to be passive and to fold but it takes time and experience to identify them all. Work on expanding your preflop game and try to find the common situations where you may be assigning your opponent too strong of a range. You may find that after you start making some looser calls and some wider bluffs against a weak range that you've been missing a lot of opportunities.
johnaz: hello, what are the biggest adjustments that needs to be made from 6max to HU? I'm hesitating to even try HU games because I don't like playing weak ranges.
October 1, 2013 14:01
Exactly like you're hinting at, the biggest adjustment is to learn how to play with and against weak ranges. Both players are going to have wider ranges than you're familiar with in basically every situation, which generally speaking will mean folding less often postflop. It doesn't necessarily mean that you can go crazy with aggression because you don't often have a strong hand yourself. See if you can identify the hand strength your opponent is comfortable calling down with and adjust your bluffing frequencies accordingly.
Voicu: heya i would also like to ask u one question or 2 :D How important is the agression on the heads up games ? and should i give to the cards more value then they have? Are you an agressive player?
October 2, 2013 02:02
If you're coming from another NL format, you'll find heads up games to be quite aggressive (and would likely think I'm an aggressive player). Relative hand strength is inversely correlated to the number of players at the table, so as you move from full ring to 6max to heads up the value of every holding will increase. Hands that you may fold on the turn in a full ring game or the river in a 6max game will become standard call downs in a heads up game. Conversely, hands that merit 2 streets of value in full ring or 6max will likely merit 3 streets in a heads up game. You'll find that postflop betting frequencies may not change much from the other game formats, but because you're playing a substantially wider preflop range you'll find that those ranges include a ton of weak draws or pairs that you normally wouldn't be playing to begin with.
sierinsh: Hello, Kevin! I have few questions for u, i just started to play heads up, because in cash and MTT i suck, thats why im trying HU. There are few questions for u. 1. What cards should I play preflop in headsup? I get used to folding shitty hands preflop but i dont want to just keep letting the villian steal my blind time after time. I realize i have to play looser but what hands should I fold right away and what hands should I play in heads up? 2. Should I play heads up differently when the villian has a good chip lead on me? Tighter, but then Ill just keep giving up my blinds and lose a little at a time or looser and risk losing it all? And some questions about ur carrier :) What would you say were the most important improvements you've made to improve your game, especially early on? How did you analyse your play? Did you use a database, or did you just think about it for a second just after you've made the play? Did you just play play play play with active thinking or did you actually schedule time to analyse previous plays? Have you read any books or watched any videos on (husng) poker that have really helped you? Are there any things, not directly related to poker, that (you think) have improved your play? Like eating well, exercising, whatever? I know it's alot questions, but it would be nice if u answered :) Thanks :)
October 2, 2013 15:35
1. Try playing 100% from the button to start. You may play someone who 3bets so much that you'll want to fold 10-15% of hands, but it will help you get comfortable with how many hands you should be playing. In the bb, if you're facing a minraise, try playing 100% there too. You might prefer to play 75-90% in the future but it will be a good learning experience and won't substantially change your winrate. 2. Ignore the chip stacks almost entirely. There's no ICM to consider in heads up so you shouldn't be concerned with who has the chip lead. The only relevant factor here is if your opponent is trying to avoid losing, which might make for some cool exploitative adjustments you could make. 3. To improve I just spent a lot of time thinking, talking, reading about and playing poker. The twoplustwo forums were huge in my early stages as well as putting in volume and watching training videos with cardrunners or deucescracked. Those probably aren't as relevant now as they were in 2007-08 but I know the material on husng.com is easily the best and most relevant husng material you can find. Other sites aren't devoting as much time to that format and there are some very strong players who coach with us there. I'd recommend delving into the game as much as you can while keeping a balanced lifestyle. Don't ditch social events or skip workouts because you want to play more poker, but spend as much time as you can afford on the game. Join skype groups and participate on multiple forums. Review your hands in pokertracker and get other opinions on them. Use pokerstove often and verify your intuition with solid math and theory. Most importantly - use all of this information to form your own opinions on the game and don't take anyone's word as gospel.
Axif: What was your worst downswing and how did you deal with it? Have you ever feel so disgusted about poker that you wanted to quit?
October 2, 2013 19:25
I thought I might get this question! I'm still going through mine right now. In the past I remember going through a 100k hand breakeven stretch which was frustrating but I pulled out of it nicely. It helped that I was living with other successful poker players and was able to reflect on my strategy to make sure I was continuing to make good decisions. I'm in the same situation now except I'm breakeven in bbs and down a lot of dollars. In March I had my biggest month ever, something like 75-80k in profit from cash games (you can see it at the end of the graph above actually), but since then I'm down something like 30k. It's tough to spend such a long time without winning but I've spent so much time on my other interests outside of poker that it doesn't feel so bad. Probably the toughest thing about dealing with losses in poker is when your general happiness relies on winning. For me I've always tried to detach myself from getting excited about the wins and it makes the losses a lot more manageable. I try to motivate myself with progress in strategy, with progress outside of poker, with success in other facets of my life. I've never wanted to quit poker, it's an amazing job and I want to stick with it for as long as I can.
masuronike: Hi, what do you think about future of HU cash game? I think there are a lot of problems with bumhunters and most of networks including Stars want to do something with that
October 2, 2013 19:27
The future of HU cash games for me depends a lot on how successful Stars is in dealing with the lobby changes. If they come up with a decent solution then the games will thrive. I could see the games moving towards the concept that HUSNGs have always employed, which is similar to king of the hill. I've tried KoTH on Partypoker and think it's a good system in theory that's very difficult to implement in practice. There are a lot of flaws with Party's system that limit how often I play with them (combined with the high rake and removal of palladium elite...) but they're close to a good solution. Probably my favorite system ever was on Ongame, where there were a ton of tables but they were sorted alphabetically and the lobby was basically a free for all. You could fight for tables that were more likely to get sat but the bumhunters were allowed some number of lower quality tables. Anyone with more money on the site could own a higher percent of the lobby that they were a top reg at. I think that's more interesting than pure KoTH, but there's always the issue of lobby clutter that isn't solved so it's not perfect.
fulixas: Hey Kevin again ! I have always lose my money on hypers going for 7 losing it going for 15 losing it , but loosing by stars... Q8>A8 QQ>KK. What do you think i have to do ? Don't play them or play with another strategies or smth? Any tips ? Are you using HM or programs like that ? Did the program helps you ? Ty for answerrss
October 2, 2013 19:36
I linked this below, but playing with hypers relies a lot on following a near unexploitable strategy (http://www.holdemresources.net/h/poker-theory/hune.html) and dealing with an absurd amount of variance. If you look at the results of some of the best hyper turbo players you'll see stretches of 5k+ games where they lost money, so the best you can do is focus on your theory and keep an eye on your EV-adjusted results for an idea of your possible winrate. I'm not experienced enough in those games to give any further advice but I know that husng.com would be able to provide a lot of relevant resources: videos, forums, variance simulators, coaches, etc.
Ramalhah: Hi how are you? my question is how to improve my game on hu micro stakes, i cant pass that time when any ace suited is good, is a really har fold to me, specialy on hyper turbos thank you
October 2, 2013 20:16
As I said with the other hyper turbo posts, I'm not an expert in that field. Do some studying on nash equilibrium strategy (http://www.holdemresources.net/h/poker-theory/hune.html) and look through husng.com for what I think is the most reliable information on those games.
Ramalhah: on a hu against a very agressive player (plays all the BU) i should call him with any figure card suited or it will be a loose call in long way ?
October 2, 2013 20:20
If you're referring to 25bb play, you'll be able to use the nash chart that I linked below to help play against someone who opens every button. What he's doing is essentially posting a larger blind and changing effective stacks to 12.5bb, so it's a cool idea to use the nash chart for 12.5bb play when you're facing a button minraise that you know could be any two cards. If we're referring to deeper stacks like in a cash game, I've recommended before that you can try playing 100% of hands and see if you feel comfortable with it. It's very close to what most people think is the correct adjustment to 100% minraises (but not larger opens) and it will give you a good idea of how weak villain's postflop ranges are when he opens every hand.
Barewire: Thanks for all the great questions guys, that's the time I have for today! Feel free to grab my contact info from my coaching page linked above if you have any questions or want to chat more about any of the topics I brought up here. If you're interested in learning HU Cash I highly recommend my beginner and advanced video packs over at husng.com, which you can also find linked above. There are free samples there to check out and the packs are meant to be comprehensive as an introduction to the game. Best of luck at the tables and take care.
October 2, 2013 21:08
Scarmaker: And all that being said, I would like to thank Kevin for great AskThePRO as well and all the participants for all the questions! The winner of $20 for the best question posted will be announced tommorow (Thursday)!
October 2, 2013 21:51
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