So why should you play HU sngs?

Basically there is no other form of poker where you can make so much money per hour with a relatively small bankroll. If you are a 10% ROI or higher player you could easily take $500 and play the 22s on FT for a little under $20 an hour 1 tabling with almost no risk of ruin. If you were to compare that to other forms of poker you would need a $1k+ bankroll 4 tabling 50nl or about $1500 playing the 16 9-man turbos 8 tabling to make a similar hourly rate (dont get on my ass about numbers Im just giving you an idea). Clearly this is a great way to build a bankroll if your starting low.

Where should you play?

The two main choices are Full Tilt and Pokerstars, Ive never played at UB so I cant comment on that but I know they have a rematch button. If hourly rate is your goal in playing HU sngs Full Tilt is cleary the best choice, it has a super fast structure relative to PS and the players are worse IMO. Over my career I averaged 7.5 matches per hour at the FT 33s and below and 7 at the 110s (PS turbos average about 5 per hour) and higher now imagine that with a 10% ROI your making 75% of a buyin per hour which is sick good and thats not even the ceiling if you are really good. One thing you should note, you should never try and play on a site that offers HU sngs with a 10% rake, there is practically no way the amount of fishy players on the small site can compensate for the extra 5% in rake.

How should you keep track of your matches?

Ive only used PT, HEM but it works very well and it will give you everything you need and I imagine a lot of you already have it. It will tell you your hourly, matches per hour, ROI, win %, help you review hands, bring up stats from old matches etc I love it

Should you multitable?

99% of the time I played one table and I was able to make over $100 an hour doing so I never worried about multitabling. Not to mention I never got comfortable playing more than one so I never did but I know for a fact there are people successfully grinding 2, 3, 4 and more HU sngs at a time, but you should note that multitabling different villains in HU sngs is a very different skill from multitabling other forms of poker, I have 16-tabled 9- man SNGs but I couldnt handle more than one table of HU sng profitably. Its really a factor of how quickly you can think and make accurate reads rather than your clicking speed not to mention your ROI will be lower and variance will be higher which are two of the really big factors that appeal to people who play HU sngs.

What about the variance?

The thing about variance in HU sngs is that the actual swings can be fairly large relative to swings in buyins you would experience in like a 6max NL cash game but the high hourly rate tends to soften this quite a bit. I personally have lost 10 straight matches at the 33s where I averaged 17.5% ROI over 400 matches lifetime and I was really happy with all my play and never tilted in any of the 10 matches. My biggest downswing top to bottom was 17 buyins. Now I know that sounds quite harsh but think about it this way, if you work hard you could easily put in 40 matches a day so my biggest downswing would have lasted about half a day, not so bad dont you think?

What skills does HU take?

One thing that is difficult about HU is that it takes a very different skillset from your normal shorthanded or full ring poker. So as a fun exercise Ill rank the skills I think are most important.

1. Hand reading-This encompasses a lot things including being able to put together a strong accurate read of villain and understand how he is thinking through hands. If you cant read your opponent as well as he reads you, you are the fish even if you have a good general strategy and he has lots of leaks. When you are playing HU you can compensate for a lot of shortcomings if your a great hand reader, too bad this is probably one the hardest most ambigious skills to develop. I started to really develop in this area when I began to read my entire HHs front to back 2-3 times a day, lots of work but its rewarding.

2. Tilt Control-Tilt is going to hurt you fast HU because you never have time to take a back seat and stop making decisions. This is the undoing of a lot of players who never tilt when they play normal cash games or SNGs, HU is going to test your mental toughness for sure.

3. Adjusting-The faster you adjust your game to meet how your villain is playing this hand in the moment the bigger your edge is going to be, this was always very hard for me I always love to open a wide range from the button even when its not always correct.

4. Playing a 14-25bb effective stack-This is what I like to call the red zone of HU sng’s you can get a HUGE edge here because almost everyone I know plays like crap with these stack sizes, including 2p2ers. If you play turbos this is where you are going to be playing a majority of the time. Strategy here is not clear cut and it is going to test pretty much all your poker skills to the maximum, these stacks sizes are also a major reason I think its super hard to multitable HU sngs.

What else should you know?

-SAGE which is a game theory perfect system for 8bb or less. Note game theory perfect means its unexploitable but does not mean it is the most profitable strategy against a villain with an incorrect strategy.

-Tilt control, I told you this was an important skill but I am going to share my thoughts on this. Tilt is always going to be with you when you play poker its going to be a constant battle no matter how good you are at controlling yourself. You need to learn what your personal triggers are because its going to be different for everyone, for me personally losing a lot of money just doesnt get me angry but there are things that send me off the wall into super tilt monkey mode. One thing I learned personally is that burnout is a very dangerous tilt inducer, I dropped out with a 3k bankroll and forced myself to work very very hard at first but I wasnt getting the results I wanted and the money swings hurt more. When you have a balanced life if you run bad at poker its not going to hurt as much and on the same token when something bad happens outside of poker dont expect to continue playing your same game unaffected.I hope this helps you all and I also hope this encourages those of you who may have been hesitatant to start contributing to do so.

– Cwar

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