How to maximise your chances of placing first
After dodging all of the bullets for the last 30 minutes you are now down to the heads up situation.
This is where you make a massive difference to your bankroll by making a few simple changes to the way that you play the heads up part of your game.
If you don't have much heads up experience then you really need to brush up this part of your game for this is where good play will be rewarded with a big bankroll improvement.
As we discussed in bankroll management , if you continually place in the money (taking second spot) but fail to win any games then you will drain your bankroll. Slowly but surely it will dwindle away.
So you absolutely have to take down a game or two to maintain parity.
The way you can greatly improve your heads up game is very simple and it does not involve the internet!
Take a deck of cards and keep dealing out hands to two imaginary players. Do this for long enough and you will soon see how rare it is that monster hands get dealt. Also how common it is for someone to be dealt A rag.
You'll also see that both players have to contend with being dealt absolute junk for the most part.
Everyone seems to have a different strategy for playing the heads up part of the game. Many people like to limp when on the button so they get more chances of seeing flops. Heads up play can only be improved by experience but the following tips will greatly improve your game.
This assumes your chip accounts are on a par. Of course this is never often the case but there are potentially so many different scenarios that you'd need a whole website for heads up play.
Never move all in with junk to try and steal a blind. It's just not worth it. Play the hands you have been given and raise when you think you have a raising hand like K9, Q10, 10, J etc.
Discard your 2,3 and 7,2 and don't try any funny stuff. Several times people have moved all in on me with 7,2 because they think it's clever to do so and got looked up.
All connectors and hands like 8,10 or 4,6 are very good hands in a heads up battle as you often get to see all five cards and can check to a straight.
Always take the free card. If you don't have a hand on the flop then always take a free card. Don't start betting and bleeding chips if you have nothing. Most of the time any pair is a good hand.
Always be prepared for a long and drawn out battle. Don't be fazed by someone who keeps moving all in, eventually you will find a hand to call them with. A good heads up war can easily take ten minutes or more before all the chips get committed.
Always move all in with a pair or Ace with a good kicker. Never move all in with anything else. A lot of the time your opponent will get bored and call with Q, 10.
Never call an all in with less than a pair if you can help it. Over the long run this will make a big difference to your poker bankroll.
Don't try bluffing at pots on later streets. It's much too risky.
Heads up play is well worth the time spent learning if you are going to master the six seat SNG, after all, that's where the money is!