In this article we will be looking at one of the most dynamic forms of online poker today and they are heads up (HU) SNG’s played at no limit hold’em in a Turbo format. The strategy that we will be looking at here will only be applicable to the heads up variety of SNG’s and where the blind to stack ratio is low. Many structures start with blinds at the 15-30 level with each player only having 300 in chips although that can vary depending on the site and the individual structure.
The basic strategy explained
The blinds escalate very quickly and so this makes for a very fast and exciting form of poker. Just like with most online rapid fire tournaments then there is somewhat of a myth circulating that online poker tournaments of all descriptions are nothing but luck fests and turkey shoots. While it is true that the variance is very high in these events, it doesn’t alter the fact that skilful play just like in any other form of poker eventually wins the day. The basic strategy is to blend correct aggression with a correct level of folding……in other words neither too tight nor too loose.
The way that you will exploit your opponents over time is to take advantage of players who are straying in one direction or the other unknowingly. Heads up SNG’s are really all about shoving and calling a shove ranges and the accuracy of those ranges. As was stated earlier then variance will be high and you will incur some horrible losing runs but correct play will prevail over time. Basically then if your opponents or you for that matter are pushing too wide of a range then you or they are potentially exploitable. If they are calling to a shove with too tight of a range then that too is massively exploitable.
Just like in casino blackjack, there is usually a correct mathematical play in Super Turbo HU SNG’s and that is highlighted by the following ranges that I will present to you. What makes this form of poker so potentially profitable is that you are really only using a shove or call a shove strategy most of the time. So in no way do you have to be a strong poker player to do well at this form of poker as soon as you learn a good system. Firstly we will look at our shoving ranges and what they should be to play optimally.
The “M” on the following list of hand ranges is simply the size of your stack divided by the blinds. So if your stack is 300 and blinds are 15-30 then 300 divided by 45 is an M of 6.66. A quick guide to the following hand ranges reveals that an x denotes any card, an o means off suit while an s means suited. An addition sign as in 22+ means all pairs of deuces or higher.
First level of play shoving ranges
M = 6 22+ Kx+ Q2s+ Q6o+ J2s+ J7o+ T3s+ T7o+ 93s+ 96o+ 84s+ 86o+ 73s+ 76o+ 63s+ 65o+ 53s+ 43s+
M = 5 22+ Kx+ Q2s+ Q4o+ J2s+ J7o+ T2s+ T6o+ 93s+ 96o+ 84s+ 86o+ 73s+ 75o+ 63s+ 65o+ 52s+ 54o+ 43s+
M = 4 22+ Qx+ J2s+ J5o+ T2s+ T6o+ 92s+ 96o+ 82+ 86o+ 73s+ 75o+ 62s+ 75o+ 63s+ 65o 52s+ 54o+ 43s+
M = 3 22+ Jx+ T2s+ T5o+ 92s+ 95o+ 82s+ 84o+ 73s+ 75o+ 62s+ 65o+ 52s+ 54o+ 42s+
M = 2 22+ Tx+ 92s+ 95o+ 82s+ 85o+ 73s+ 74o+ 62s+ 64o+ 52s+ 54o+ 42s+
M = 1 22+ 8x+ 72s+ 73o+ 62s+ 63o+ 52s+ 53o+ 42s+ 32s+
Second level of play shoving ranges
M = 5 22+ Kx+ Q2s Q4o+ J2s+ J7o+ T2s+ T6o+ 93s+ 96o+ 84s+ 86o+ 73s+ 75o+ 63s+ 65o 52s+ 54o 43s+
M = 4 22+ Qx+ J2s J5o+ T2s+ T6o+ 92s+ 96o+ 83s+ 86o+ 73s+ 75o+ 63s+ 75o+ 63s+ 65o 52s+ 54o 43s+
M = 3 22+ Jx+ T2s T5o+ 92s+ 95o+ 82s+ 85o+ 73s+ 75o+ 62s+ 65o+ 52s+ 54o+ 42s+
M = 2 22+ Tx+ 92s 95o+ 82s+ 85o+ 73s+ 75o+ 62s+ 64o+ 52s+ 54o+ 42s+
M = 1 22+ 8x+ 72s+ 73o+ 62s+ 63o+ 52s+ 53o+ 42s+ 32s
You should in theory be shoving around thirds of your hands if your opponent has around ten big blinds. This percentage increases linearly the fewer big blinds that you have in chips because you should be shoving with around 100% of your range if you have around 1.5bb or less. In terms of actually calling a shove then you should be playing slightly tighter and the ranges for calling a shove should reflect that. If the effective stack size (the lowest stack between you and your opponent) is 10bb then you will be correct to call a shove with your top 40% of your hands (Use PokerStove to help you with identifying what these ranges mean).
When the effective stack size drops to say 5bb then your call shove percentage increases to two thirds of your total range. Once it reaches 3bb or less then you are calling a shove with more than 95% of your range and less than 2bb and you are simply calling with any two cards.
Written by: Carl “The Dean” Sampson