» Hand Reading and Tells A Heads Up Poker Strategy Blog Wed, 08 Sep 2010 02:39:35 +0000 en hourly 1 My Bad River Bluff at $200 NL /2009/09/my-bad-river-bluff-at-200-nl/ /2009/09/my-bad-river-bluff-at-200-nl/#comments Sun, 27 Sep 2009 22:11:11 +0000 Gugel /?p=403 I’m playing $200 NL against Cricket Scores, a somewhat decent regular. We stacked off preflop when my AKs ran into his pocket queens. At this point, we’ve only played like 20 hands or so.

BB ($395.50)
Hero (SB) ($205.50)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Js, 2c
Hero bets $6, BB calls $4

Flop: ($12) 5c, 7h, 10d (2 players)
BB bets $7, Hero calls $7
This is the first time he’s donked into me, so I have no idea what his donking-range is. Folding here is definitely standard, but there’s a lot of cards that can come on the turn that I can bluff.

Turn: ($26) 10s (2 players)
BB bets $18, Hero raises to $42.50, BB calls $24.50
This is a really awesome card for me and if I call the flop, this is a must-bluff situation.

River: ($111) 7d (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $55.50
Here, I think I made a mistake. There is absolutely no need to bluff here. I’m only getting weaker hands to fold (like 68 or 89). My jack high might be good!

He ended up shoving over my river bet and I obviously folded.

Before you fire out a bluff, always think about hands the villain might have that are stronger than yours and if the villain will fold those hands. If no stronger hand folds, then it’s a bad bluff! In this case, there just wasn’t many hands that the villain could conceivably have that are stronger than mine and would fold to my bet.

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Get Gugel’s Secret Hold’Em Manager Heads Up HUD Config /2009/08/get-gugels-secret-holdem-manager-heads-up-hud-config/ /2009/08/get-gugels-secret-holdem-manager-heads-up-hud-config/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2009 00:46:36 +0000 Gugel /?p=308 I had a few people ask me about my custom color-coded Hold’Em Manager HUD config.  I’ve decided to release it for $9.95.

Update: As of May 1, 2010, 75 people have purchased my HUD!

HoldEm Manager Heads Up HUD Config

Hold'Em Manager Heads Up HUD Config

Sure, you can make a custom heads up HUD yourself.  I’ve even told you what stats are particularly important for heads up.  But here are 3 reasons why it’s worth the $9.95:

1. It’d prolly take you hours to put this config together yourself.  A few hours of your time is worth more than $9.95, right?

2. It’s color-coded to make it easier to figure out opponent’s tendencies.

  • Stats highlighted in green are loose/aggressive.
  • Stats in red are tight/passive.
  • Stats in orange are somewhere in between.

3.  It’s +EV: It will probably pay for itself if it helps you make just one correct fold or valuebet.

Obviously, if you don’t like the config, you can just email me at and I’ll gladly give you a full refund.  No questions asked.

UPDATE: Here’s some clarification on what each stat means:

  • VP_BB: Money voluntarily put in the pot from the big blind.
  • VP_SB: Money voluntarily put in the pot from the small blind / button.
  • WTSD: How often villain goes to showdown.
  • PFR_SB: How often villain is raising on the small blind / button.
  • 3Bet: How often villain is 3betting preflop.
  • HD: Number of hands played.
  • CB: How often villain continuation bets.
  • FCbet: How often villain folds to continuation bets.
  • CR: How often villain check raises.
  • Donk: How often villain donk bets (bets out on the flop out of position).
  • F3Bet: How often villain folds to a 3bet preflop.
  • F-AF: Villain’s aggresson on the flop.
  • T-AF: Villain’s aggresson on the turn.
  • R-AF: Villain’s aggression on the river.

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Mistakes /2009/07/mistakes/ /2009/07/mistakes/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2009 18:11:19 +0000 Gugel /?p=295 About a week ago, I made a mistake at $200NL HU vs. Smokin Mokin (a breakeven reg).  Here’s the hand in question.

Hero (BB) ($200)
Button ($245)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 8, 6
Button bets $6, Hero calls $4

Flop: ($12) Q, 6♠, 9 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $8, Hero raises to $30, Button calls

Turn: ($72) J♠ (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $55.55, Hero calls

River: ($183.1) 5♣ (2 players)
Hero bets $108.45 (all-in)

My line makes no sense.  In retrospect, there are 2 ways I could’ve played this hand.  With a gutshot, flush draw, and a pair on the turn I could lead and call a shove or checkfold the river if I didn’t improve.  I messed up pretty bad, but we all make mistakes at the poker table. Winners learn from their mistakes. Losers don’t.

It’s really important to acknowledge your mistakes, but not dwell on the them.  Dwelling on mistakes makes you lose confidence in your game, go on tilt, etc.  I try to hold my head up high when I mess up.  I’m not ashamed or embarrassed.  As Emmitt Smith once said, “I may win and may lose, but I will never be defeated.”

Learn to fail successfully.

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How I Misplayed Pocket Jacks /2009/04/how-i-misplayed-pocket-jacks/ /2009/04/how-i-misplayed-pocket-jacks/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2009 23:09:32 +0000 Gugel /?p=220 I’ve been playing a bit 6max lately and I wanted to share a hand I recently misplayed. There’s definitely some insight you can draw from this example to help you with your heads up game.

SB ($50)
BB ($50)
Hero (UTG) ($50)
MP ($50)
CO ($50)
Button ($50)

Preflop: Hero is Button with J♠, J♣
Hero bets $2, 2 folds, Button raises to $6, 2 folds, Hero calls $4

Flop: ($12) 7♣, 3♥, 7 (2 players)
Hero bets $9, Button raises to $24, Hero goes all-in

First of all, leading here is terrible. It allows the villain to play perfectly. He will probably fold every hand that I beat and raise with every hand that beats me.  In other words, if he has AK, he’s probably gonna fold and if he has QQ+, he’s gonna raise. The only reasonable hand I can get value from is TT. Anyway, it’s much better to check call. He’s probably going to continuation bet with almost his entire range and we can comfortably call on the flop.   At this point, however, we’re hoping to check it down and we’re probably going to check/fold the turn to further aggression.

As Ryan Fee put it:

If you just fold every marginal situation where you aren’t really sure where you are at in the end you won’t end up losing that much money, in fact if you consistently make incorrect decisions in those situations you will end up losing money. Therefore fold.

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Clarkmeister Theorem /2009/04/clarkmeister-theorem/ /2009/04/clarkmeister-theorem/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2009 17:10:17 +0000 Gugel /?p=199 This is the 3rd post of Theorem Week. If you haven’t done so already, check out Zeebo Theorem and Baluga Theory. In this post, we’re going to dive right into the Clarkmeister Theorem.

Simply put, the Clarkmeister Theorem states that if you are heads up against an opponent and are first to act when there are four cards of the same suit on the board, you should almost always bet no matter what you have. A 2/3 pot sized bet is generally correct.

Let’s look at an example.

Hero (Button) ($100.00)
SB ($100.00)

Preflop: Hero is Button with 7♠, 5♣
Hero bets $3, SB calls $2

Flop: ($6) T♣, 3, 8 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $5, SB calls $5

Turn: ($16) 2 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero checks

River: ($16) Q (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $14, SB folds

Your opponent is probably laying down everything up but a low-medium flush. It’s just really hard for him to call the river with a hand like T♠, 9♣.

The Clarkmeister Theorem exploits an opponent’s tendency to fold on a 4-suit board. You should counter this strategy by calling more and making small bluff raises. The chances he has a weaker hand that will fold to your bluff raise are much greater than the chances he has a strong enough hand to call.


In the next installment, we’ll talk about Aejones Theorem.

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Baluga Theorem /2009/04/baluga-theorem/ /2009/04/baluga-theorem/#comments Wed, 08 Apr 2009 20:23:17 +0000 Gugel /?p=196 This is the 2nd post of Theorem Week. If you haven’t done so already, check out Zeebo Theorem. In this post, we’re going to dive right into the Baluga Theorem.

Simply put, the Baluga Theorem states that you should think twice about whether your one pair hand is good when you’re facing a raise (and especially a checkraise) on the turn. That’s not to say that one pair is never good, but a raise/checkraise on the turn from your opponent generally means he has a very good hand and warning bells should start ringing in your head. He’ll probably have at least top pair with a good kicker or some kind of combo draw (i.e. pair + draw, flush + straight draw).

Let’s look at an example.

Hero (Button) ($100.00)
SB ($100.00)

Preflop: Hero is Button with J♠, K♣
Hero bets $3, SB calls $2

Flop: ($6) J♣, 5, 8 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $5, SB calls $5

Turn: ($16) T♣ (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $12, SB raises to $38

We should probably fold here. Our one pair hand is rarely good and even if we are ahead of a draw, there are a lot of very dangerous cards that can come on the river that we would have to fold to. It is unlikely that JQ or worse would play it this way and we’re putting ourselves in an extremely poor spot if we call.

If your opponent is aware of the Baluga Theorem, raising or checkraising the turn as a bluff can be very profitable.

Medium-High: The Baluga Theorem was forged in 6max games, but it’s still pretty reliable for heads up.

In the next installment, we’ll talk about Clarkmeister’s Theorem.

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Zeebo Theorem /2009/04/zeebo-theorem/ /2009/04/zeebo-theorem/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2009 14:57:29 +0000 Gugel /?p=184 This week is Theorem Week!   I’ll be talking about Zeebo Theorem, Baluga Theorem, Clarkmeister Theorem, The Yeti Theorem, Aejones Theorem, and Ansky Theorem.

So let’s kick things off with Zeebo’s Theorem. Simply put, Zeebo’s Theorem states that no one ever folds a full house. It doesn’t matter if you make a 1/2 pot sized bet, a full pot sized bet, or massively overbet. The villain will not fold their full house, even on a very dangerous board.

Let’s look at an example…

Hero (Button) ($100.00)
SB ($100.00)

Preflop: Hero is Button with J♠, J♣
Hero bets $3, SB calls $2

Flop: ($6) 3♣, 5, 3 (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $5, SB calls $5

Turn: ($16) T♠ (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $12, SB calls

River: ($40) 3♠ (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $80 (All-in), SB calls

Hero wins $200 with J♠, J♣
Villain mucks 5, 6♣

So what are the implications of Zeebo’s Theorem?
1. If you think the other person holds a full house and you can’t beat it, do not bluff. It is extremely unlikely you are going to get your opponent off their hand.
2. Massively overbet if you have a strong full house and you suspect your opponent has a weaker full house. They will call.

Every strategy has a counter-strategy.  And every counter-strategy has a counter-counter-strategy.  If you know that your opponent knows Zeebo’s Theorem, you should adjust your strategy accordingly. That translates to folding your weak full houses on dangerous boards to massive overbets. That can also mean bluffing someone off a weak full house with a massive overbet (though this is not recommended).

Finally, unlike some of the theorems we’ll discuss later, Zeebo’s Theorem is remarkably reliable. You can be reasonably sure it will work against a wide variety of opponents.

Stay tuned for the next post in Theorem Week.  Baluga Theorem is up next.

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Heads Up Hand of the Week – March 20th, 2009 /2009/03/heads-up-hand-of-the-week-march-20th-2009/ /2009/03/heads-up-hand-of-the-week-march-20th-2009/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2009 21:09:50 +0000 Gugel /?p=165 The villain has played a lot of hands but he’s a breakeven player.   He’s a bit too loose from the big blind and he occasionally makes some really spazzy plays.    He’s 3bet pretty aggressively, but not an unreasonable amount.  He continuation bets almost every one of his 3bets.

Hero (Button) ($243.10)
SB ($107.20)

Preflop: Hero is Button with 4♠, 5♠
Hero bets $3, SB raises to $11, Hero calls $8

Flop: ($22) 3♣, 5♣, 4♣ (2 players)
SB bets $17, Hero calls $17

Turn: ($56) 2♠ (2 players)

SB bets $35, Hero folds

The flop may seem awesome at first, but if I raise, I know that my equity against his range of hands is not great.  If I raise the flop, what hands will the villain call/raise with?  And how does my 2 pair fare against them?

If he has an overpair with clubs, like JsJc for example, I’m actually slightly behind.
If he has an overpair with no clubs, I have 70% equity.
If he has something like AcKs, I only have 55% equity.

If I raise on the flop and get it in, it’s still a +EV play, but it’s just not optimal.  I want to call and get the money in on a safe turn card (anything except a 2 or a club).

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Heads Up Hand of the Week – February 20th, 2009 /2009/02/heads-up-hand-of-the-week-february-20th-2009/ /2009/02/heads-up-hand-of-the-week-february-20th-2009/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2009 22:32:19 +0000 Gugel /?p=139 The villain bought in short which tells me off the bat that he’s probably not a good player.  He calls out of position way too often (56% of the time) and is not raising enough from the button (only 31% of the time).  He’s pretty aggressive and likes to lead out on flops when he’s out of position.  I caught him making stupid bluffs once or twice in about 100 hands.

Hero (Button) ($107.30)
SB ($91.30)

Preflop: Hero is Button with 2h, 8h
Hero bets $3, SB calls $2

Flop: ($6) 3h, 3s, 4s (2 players)
SB bets $6, Hero calls $6

Turn: ($18) 9c (2 players)
SB bets $18, Hero calls $18

River: ($54) 5d (2 players)
SB bets $15, Hero raises to $80.30 (All-In), 1 fold

I have a horrible hand on the flop, but take a look at this preflop hand chart.  10.4% of my button raising range that has a three.  Only 3.8% of my big blind calling range has a 3.  In short, I am much more likely to have a 3 on the button than on the big blind.  The villain is much looser in the big blind than I am, but his range is still scewed more towards face cards and the percentage of 3’s in his range is probably still around 4%.  Sometimes the cards you hold don’t matter — it’s about putting your opponent on a range of possible hands, determining what he’s capable of folding, and acting accordingly.

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Heads Up Hand of Week – February 13th, 2009 /2009/02/heads-up-hand-of-week-february-13th-2009/ /2009/02/heads-up-hand-of-week-february-13th-2009/#comments Sat, 14 Feb 2009 00:48:58 +0000 Gugel /?p=133 Villain has been calling my 3bets very light.  I 3bet him 8 times and he’s called 6 of them.  He folds to my continuation bets around half the time which is a bit loose considering I’ve been cbetting rather conservatively.  He moderately aggressive on all streets.

Hero (SB) ($183.70)
Button ($238.20)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Js, Jh
Button raises to $3, Hero raises to $11, Button calls $8

Flop: ($22) 3s, 9s, 8h (2 players)
Hero bets $14, Button calls $14

Turn: ($50) 6h (2 players)
Hero bets $33, Button calls $33

River: ($116) 7d (2 players)
Hero checks, Button bets $180.20 (All-In), Hero calls $125.70 (All-In)

Total pot: $367.40 | Rake: $0.50

Looking back, I think my call on the river was pretty bad.  I should have folded.  Here’s why:

He’s calling 3bets very light and he could easily have QT, JT, 9T, 8T, even 7T in his range.  I really don’t think he jams all in this deep with 2 pair here, but it’s not completely out of the question if he puts me on an overpair (and it’s unlikely I have a T in my range).  The only think I’m really beating here is a double float or a busted flush draw that decided to take a shot at the pot.  I do not think he’s nearly good enough to put me on an overpair and turn a made, but weak hand like A8 into a bluff.

The bad players are not the ones that make mistakes, they are the ones that don’t learn from them.

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