Heads Up Strategy

When you make the heads up stage of a super turbo SnG the blinds will usually be around 50/100 or higher.  Since there are only 2700 chips in the tournament this means that at least one player will likely be under the 10 big blind limit for the majority of heads up play.  This means that the heads up stage will be pretty much all push/fold poker.  At this stage of the tournament you should play aggressive and push more often than you fold.

What is the optimal percentage of hands to push?

In fact the optimal game theory says to push about 67% of your hands if you or your opponent have exactly 10 times the big blind in chips.  This percentage increases to 78% when one of you has exactly five times the big blind in chips and this number hits 100% pushes when one of you have only 1.4 big blinds in chips.

What is the optimal percentage of hands to call?

The percentage of hands that you should call a push with is of course less than the number of hands you should push with.  If the effective stack size (the lowest of yours or your opponents) is exactly 10 big blinds then you should be calling pushes with 41% of hands.  This amount increases to 66% of hands when the effective stack size is 5 big blinds and 95% when the effective stack size is 3 big blinds.

Are these percentages optimal against all opponents?

No.  These percentages are optimal against other players who are also using the optimal strategy.  If your opponents are not using optimal push/fold strategy then you can adjust your strategy to exploit this and gain a better edge.

For example, if your opponent is playing very tight then you should increase the percentage of hands you push with and decrease the percentage of hands you call with.  On the other hand if your opponent is playing looser than optimal you should decrease the number of hands you push with and increase the number of hands you call with.

Too aggressive is better than too tight

The heads up stage of a super turbo SnG is all about pushing and folding as best you can to gain as much of an edge on your opponent as possible.  Being aggressive is the name of the game at this point in the tournament as you can tell by the high percentage of hands you should push.

If you play too tight during the heads up stage you are basically just asking to lose.  You will not be able to win any chips because you will continually fold your blinds away and when you do move in your opponent will know you have a strong hand and will fold.  At least if you are too loose you are still giving yourself a chance to win.

So the moral of this article is it is better to be too aggressive than too tight in the heads up stage of a super turbo sng.  That being said it is of course best to play a perfect push/fold game taking into account the style of your opponent to give yourself as big an edge as possible.

Just using optimal push/fold strategy will make it so it’s impossible for your opponent to gain an edge on you, but it may not give you as big an edge as if you were adapting your strategy towards your opponent.