This article is a transcription of the Level-Up Podcast, hosted by Upswing VP Mike Brady with special guest Doug Polk. You can watch or listen to the entire episode via the links above or read on if you prefer a written version.
Welcome to the show that helps you get better at poker fast. My name is Mike Brady and I’ve got a special guest on the line to help you with your one-on-one poker strategy. He’s a three-time WSOP bracelet winner, who also happens to be the most accomplished heads up poker player of all time. It’s Doug Polk.
Doug Polk (00:18):
Thank you for having me on today Brady. Good to finally get on the podcast and hopefully I can help the listeners with some one-on-one poker knowledge.
Mike Brady (00:27):
Yeah, that’s right. Heads up No limit is fast and action packed. You have to play loose and aggressive to maximize your win rate, but you also have to be precise with your aggression to avoid spewing money to your opponent. Whether you play heads up or not, you can benefit a lot from learning heads up strategy.
Case in point, Doug has had a ton of success in non Heads-up games throughout his career and he owes a lot of that success to the skills that he gained playing heads up.
I also have to bring up Dan Ott who took Doug Polk’s original Heads Up course back in 2017 and went on to win $4.7 million in the World Series of Poker main event later that year. He even said that without the concepts he learned from Doug’s course, he doubts he would’ve made a deep run in that prestigious tournament.
Doug and his longtime heads up coach Fabian Adler just released their new course The End Boss System.
This advanced course is a total game changer. Before we get into the fundamentals of Heads up strategy, I want to give Doug the chance to talk about what he and Fabian have created.
Doug Polk (01:27):
Yeah, thanks Brady. So basically over the course of the last few months, we’ve taken all of the concepts that I’ve learned and Fabian’s learned over the years and we have packaged it together into a course format to bring to you at home to learn how to play head to no limit at the absolute top level.
The thing is, back when I was playing heads up and I was on the up and up, we didn’t actually know the solutions to many of the complex problems that poker has. Because of the evolution of software, we now know the answers to many of these questions.
We’ve taken all of those hours of hard work that we put into build those strategies and we’re bringing them right directly to you in this approximately 50ish hour course, if you include the add-on Deep Stack course, it’s all coming right to you so you know how to play heads up no limit like the absolute top heads up players do and I got to say Brady, I think we’re qualified to be the top heads up players in the business.
Mike Brady (02:21):
Yeah, no doubt about that and as I said earlier, it can really benefit pretty much any poker player learning good heads up strategy. So even if you don’t play much heads up or even if you don’t really play heads up at all, you can still benefit a ton from taking this course.
Maybe you’ll even make a deep run in the WSOP main event like Dan Ott did, but you’re going to have to run pretty good to pull that one off.
So with all that said, it’s time to get into the heads up fundamentals with Doug. I’m going to start by asking him about pre-flop strategy from the button followed by pre-flop strategy from the big blend. There’s only two positions so it’s easy to cover that entire game tree pretty quick. From there we’ll move on to Doug’s advice for playing postflop. Let’s do it.
Heads-Up Preflop Strategy
Doug, suppose you’re playing a heads up cash game with 100 big blind stacks. What does your pre-flop opening strategy look like as the player on the button?
Doug Polk (03:09):
An optimal pre-flop open range from the small blind is going to be about 84% of hands. I’ve seen a little more, little bit less, but realistically you’re going to be playing every suited hand, every pair.
Obviously the only hands you’re really looking to fold are hands that are like ten four, ten three offsuit. Ten four tends to be roughly the cutoff, five three offsuit and open four three is kind of close.
All of those offsuit deuces between 10 deuce and deuce three, you’re letting all of those go. So some offsuit threes, some offsuit twos fold. Everything else is going to be a very playable hand. I also note that as stacks are at a hundred big blinds, your optimal raise size is about 2.25 x. As you get deeper, that number will increase.
Mike Brady (03:50):
Yeah, so you mentioned that deep stack adjustment, you raise a little bit bigger. Does your hand selection change at all when you get deeper or does the range of hands you play remain pretty similar where you’re sort of folding everything worse than ten four offsuit?
Doug Polk (04:04):
There are a couple of very slight adjustments that happen. As you get deeper, you do start to raise larger, which is the main one that you might see. Also, you might play a couple more hands on the button as you get a bit deeper because it’s a lot harder for the big blind to combat your opens.
I also have seen that essentially the range shifts a little bit more away from some of the offsuit hands, like ten four offsuit or rather the gap hands like ten four offsuit or jack deuce and then it was a little bit more towards playing hands like four three offsuit as an example.
That said, all in all the open range does not change too much and you could go in and say, you know what, here’s my 84% of hands, I’m playing those regardless of stack depth and you would be giving up almost no EV So I might even recommend players not change at all as you get deeper except maybe look to raise slightly larger.
Mike Brady (04:49):
And I just want to get into that a little bit because it’s something I learned while you were playing your challenge against Daniel Negreanu. You were raising bigger as you got deeper when you were in position and you actually reduced your three bet size out of position. That’s kind of a spoiler for later.
Can you speak a little bit to that concept of kind of juicing the pot when you get deeper and you’re in position and avoiding juicing the pot a little bit when you’re at a position?
Doug Polk (05:11):
This is a great topic. I’m glad you asked me because I think this is maybe something that the average poker player has really down incorrectly. Basically for many years in poker strategy we felt like as you get deeper stacked you need to cut down on the odds the emphasis player gets.
So you bet bigger and tighter when you’re deeper, thus making it hard for them to call you in position with hands like suited connectors or offsuit broadways or even low pairs. Turns out that was just fundamentally wrong with the reason being that as you get deeper, simply put the in position player wins more percentage of the pot and thus more money.
Essentially as you get deeper, you actually want to use smaller raise sizes because even though your point out will get to play more hands versus your rera, it lets you play more hands and then also they win a smaller pot when they’re in position as opposed to a bigger one.
Mike Brady (06:02):
Yeah, so that smaller size is going to be when you’re at a position, but then when you’re in position you’re totally happy to juice the pot because you’re winning more of a larger pot. In other words, your pot share increases — the percent of the pot that “belongs to you” as the end position player goes up as you get deeper. Getting into some really nerdy territory. Let’s get back on track. Let’s turn the-
Doug Polk (06:23):
Well hold on, one more nerdy moment for a moment if I may. So with open size, we talked about that already, it does increase, but four betting size also does too. On a hundred big blinds you’re probably going to want to use a 2.7 x sized four bet.
It’s basically just at that size where you’re able to four bet your bluffs and fold to a jam. But as you get deeper, we’ll see four bets move all the way up to just a full three x. So for example, if a three bet was to nine blinds or 10 blinds, let’s say it’s 10 blinds for an example, you’d four bet to a full 30 and actually as you get really deep, I have seen some instances where you might even want a four bet larger than that. So this concept applies to raises, three bets, four bets, and I would imagine even five betts if you get deep enough, Brady,
Mike Brady (07:04):
Oh man, that makes me a little scared just thinking about it. Okay, so let’s turn the tables and talk about playing from the big blind now.
Suppose the player on the button raises to that optimal 2.25 x size that you recommended before playing a hundred big blind deep. How are you responding as the player in the big blind?
Doug Polk (07:19):
So when you face smaller sizes, you get to defend more hands. As sizes get bigger, you have to play more tight. It’s pretty basic poker theory when you’re facing a 2.25 x, you’re going to be defending fairly wide versus that. I think it’s somewhere in the low mid seventies. I’d have to see off the cuff.
To be honest with you, Brady, not many people 2.25 x versus me because I play live poker wear people 2.5 x like real poker players do. So I’ve not even looked at my vs 2.25 x ranges in some time, but I can tell you it will be a bit looser than vs 2.5. As for the three betting range, it doesn’t change all too much, so I wouldn’t really put too much stock into how you would be adjusting to that.
Mike Brady (07:57):
Okay. What does that three betting range look like? Let’s go with the 2.5 x size since that’s what you’re a little bit more studied up on at the moment. What types of hands are you going to three bet against that 2.5 x?
Doug Polk (08:06):
Sure, so mid to high pairs are pure three bets. As you get into that mid-low pair territory, I’m talking mainly like sixes, fives, fours, you’re going to see some occasional three betting and as you get down to deuces you might be pure flatting on a hundred big blinds.
Those things will be a little bit more specific as you get really deep. All of the pairs will three betsuited hands, of course love three betting, especially the middling part of the range hands like eight six suited, or ten seven suited, or seven five suited, basically hands where you can three bet and if you face a four bet, you’re happy just to fold. I mean you’re not happy to fold, but you can do so and not hate your life.
This is a very interesting thing that most people make a mistake with, but hands like jack nine suited, 10 nine suited. These hands actually do a lot of just flatting to an open, which sounds crazy, right? A hand as strong as jack nine suited or ten nine suited not even three betting heads up. Well the reason is simple, if you three bet and they four bet, first off you’re way behind their value bets, but then the bluffs that people use are going to be hands like ace 10, king 10, queen jack hands that have those hands very much dominated.
So basically you’re going to want be a little bit polarized in the way that you approach it with your strong hands three betting, the hands that are good but hate facing a four bet flatting, and then right below that three betting as well. The same thing happens with the offsuit hands, hands like king, 10 off, queen jack off, queen 10 off. These hands are very, very rarely going to be three bets. You almost always will be fighting those versus an open but ace jack definitely a hand you’re going to want to be three betting and as you get a bit weaker into the Jack Ten, Ten Nine off territory, you three bet once again. So there is some polarization that occurs.
Typically speaking, your flats will have your worst hands and all the way up to your pretty good hands and your three bets will be a little bit more polar, but hands that definitely have playability postflop.
Mike Brady (09:49):
This is a little bit of a tangent, but it’s interesting. The three betting range that you were kind of highlighting there. The heart of the three bet — if you want to call it bluff range, “three bet bluff range” — ten seven suited, eight six suited, et cetera.
That really reminds me of a three bet from the big blind range in tournaments at like 50 big blinds. That’s kind of how it plays that as well. The computer will pretty much always flat a hand like 10 nine suited, jack nine suited, queen jack suited, because it’s a disaster to face a four bet or a four bet jam when you three bet those hands, but it’s not such a big deal to have to fold ten seven suited against a four bet, so the computer chooses to three bet those hands out of the big blind.
So kind of just interesting to see that parallel in both heads up no limit cash games with deep stacks compared to 50 big blind tournaments. Kind of cool to see the mechanic carrying over.
Doug Polk (10:32):
It is fun to see that crossover. It all comes back to the same underlying principle, which is one of the most difficult parts of poker. Maybe even the most difficult part of poker is how to play aggressive in a way where you don’t blow yourself out of the water with hands that are good but not great.
So when I have good hands, I want to put pressure on my opponent, but if it gets too big, then I’m going to have to fold if I get re-raised and it might be a disaster for my hand.
Now I would say you don’t want to spend all of your time in poker worried they’re going to raise and thus never being willing to put in the raise with a hand that might want to, but it’s certainly something that you should be aware of when you’re considering “what kinds of candidates do I want to have when I do decide to raise my opponent pre flop or turn.”
Mike Brady (11:14):
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and I think it’s a really good example of how heads up mechanics or just learning heads up in general teaches you a lot of mechanics and concepts that carry over to a lot of different game types and can really overall make you a super strong player.
I’m sure you’ve experienced that in the many tournaments and nine handed cash games and such that you’ve played. I almost guarantee that you draw upon your heads up knowledge quite often.
Doug Polk (11:38):
Yeah, the best example really is in the big blind when you’re playing in a tournament you’re going to have to play a lot of hands, especially if it’s a min raise from later positions and when you’re used to playing with lots of bad hands versus a wide range, then of course you’re going to have the skillset that you need to combat that.
When I moved over from heads up to tournaments, I was fortunate to have a lot of success in basically all forms of tournaments that I played online, live streaming, non streaming, whatever I was playing and I think a really big part of that is I’m so used to just navigating these situations where I have lots of hands finding good bluff candidates, finding effective value, betts, protecting my range and knowing when I need to call down. I think that’s a really important part of poker in general.
Mike Brady (12:18):
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Alright, I’ll bring us back on track now we were talking about playing from the Big blind against a raise.
You talked about how we three bet and defend against the 2.5 x open mainly. What sort of adjustments are you making as stacks get deeper though? I know you already mentioned three betting smaller to reduce that pot share advantage that the in position player has.
If you want to speak to that a little more, if there’s any other adjustments, fire away.
Doug Polk (12:41):
So specifically preflop your size will decrease as you get deeper for those things we mentioned earlier. As for the range of hands to 3-bet it also changes. You stop three beting a lot of hands that are like, for example, ACE nine, ACE 10, ACE Jack. Those will get in there every now and then, but they become primarily flats. You three bet hands like king queen, king jack far less often.
Basically you start moving away from these off suit hands that just have good raw equity versus your opponent’s range and could make top pairs that you can live with and you move over towards way more suited hands, more suited wheel Aces, more hands that have this playability as you get deeper to hit hands that are very much nutted and can play for lots of money. So when you are getting a bit deeper, you’re going to have more of the playable hands as three bets and the last fundamental pre-flop change that happens as you get deeper. It’s a pretty simple one. You three bet less.
The deeper you get the worst it is to be out of position, thus the less hand you want to be making the pot bigger with. So you do see your three bet size go down, your frequency go down and the hands you do select become more playable.
Mike Brady (13:41):
Yeah, pretty simple. You just put less money in the pot when you’re out of position and deep. It’s almost too easy.
Doug Polk (13:47):
Mike Brady (13:48):
Yeah, who knew? Guess you did. Alright, one last pre-flop question. Suppose you raise on the button and the big blind three bets, what types of hands are you calling and which ones warrant a four bet? Let’s start with 100 big blinds
Doug Polk (14:00):
On a hundred big blinds. You’re going to want to be playing pretty disciplined because the three bet size should be in theory a bit larger and then also you’re not going to have nearly the kind of implied odds that you would have when you get to 200 300 big blinds deep.
It’s actually kind of funny, at this point in my career I play almost no a hundred big blind poker. Man, that’s different than early in my heads up no limit career. But anyway, you’re going to want to play pretty disciplined hands, like the low pocket pairs are going to be slam dunk pure calls, the suited connectors will be mainly looking to call. Those are actually kind of interesting to me because as you get deeper you might want to have hands like nine eight suited as a four bet, but when you’re on the shallow stack, again going back to we talked about earlier, you don’t want to end up having to fold that hand to a jam.
So those types of hands love flatting. Your four bet bluffs are going to be hands, it’s going to be really the offsuit Broadways, hands like I mentioned earlier. Ace 10 offsuit, king queen off, queen 10, jack 10, those are going to be some of your slam dunk biggest bluff candidates. King Deuce suited, for some reason, absolutely loves a nice four bet. King Deuce suited, king three suited, some of your worst suited queens.
Queen five, queen six suited might get in there as well. And then interestingly as well, Ace Queen Offsuit does get in there for the four bet-fold on some stack sizes that would be kind of surprising. I forget if it’s exactly a hundred or if that starts happening a little bit deeper. I’d have to pull up some charts and, again, it’s been a bit since I’ve played a hundred big blind stack poker here, Brady, I have to check my charts out again.
But the point is ace queen is a bit of a mergy value bluff if you will, but it does dominate the call four bet range pretty well and of course your card removal is very strong with that hand and it kind of boils down to that. So, those are I guess some of your strongest candidates. Maybe Ace nine, Ace five offsuit you can in there every now and then as well and you do occasionally use some suited hands, but you’re going to use some weaker ones that are kind of right at that edge of your flat range.
Mike Brady (15:48):
And to kind of sum up all of pre-flop, you might’ve noticed that Doug often said sometimes this hand, sometimes that hand a lot of times that hand once in a while that hand. That’s because it’s very, very, very important to play a good mixed strategy in pre-flop heads up play. It’s not like playing live poker where you can kind of be pure all over the place. I know a lot of people make that argument. We would kind of argue the other way in a way, but let’s put that to the side.
When you’re playing heads up, you need to have a really robust and diverse range post flop on all of the different lines, right? So if you are always four betting with only Ace five, if that’s your four bet bluff, kind of obvious what boards you hit, it’s obvious what boards you don’t hit.
So that’s why Doug is putting so much stress on sometimes certain hands, sometimes others. It’s kind of mixing in certain hands in different lines to make sure you hit all the different boards in all the different lines and you have those really robust ranges post flop.
Inside of The End Boss System course. Doug and Fabian have included a ton of pre-flop ranges for different stack depths and situations that show you exactly when to play each hand in each line exactly when to open it, when to four bet vs call or whatever it is with that ace queen. You can get those exact frequencies that Doug didn’t even recall right away. He even has to refer to the charts guys, so you can too if you check out that End Boss System course.
Doug’s 3 Postflop Tips for Heads-Up Poker
So now it’s postflop time. I don’t want to just ask questions for this part because we can’t possibly cover the entirety of post flop strategy in the single podcast. So let’s go a different route.
Before we started recording I asked you to come up with three tips for post plot play and heads up no limit hold’em. What is your first tip?
Doug Polk (17:24):
My first tip is before you get to the river you only need to pick one size to use whether you’re on the flop or the turn. Think about when you do bet with all of your range, what size makes the most sense to you? Use that size or just check.
I think people get carried away with adding complexity when it’s not needed. I’ll tell you what, most of the best heads up players in the world are doing exactly what I tell you right now, so you don’t have to be going the extra mile than those guys. They know what they’re doing.
Basically when you get to the river it now becomes important. You need to have a small size and a big size, not in every situation, some might only have one, but typically speaking when you’re out of position, you’re going to have a block bet size where you bet one fourth or one third pot and you’re going to have a big size where you bet two thirds, three fourths or full pot.
When you’re in position you’re going to have two sizes as well, but they’re going to be bigger. Your small size will be something like two thirds pot and your big size will be 150% pot or even all in. I’m sure we’ve seen some hands where over bet jams get used heads up, which are of course fascinating to use and see them in action. But the point of the matter is before the river, what is my best size in the moment I can think of, use that or check. And then on the river, what hands like to go into my small size, my big size or to check as well. Yeah,
Mike Brady (18:41):
And just to kind of clarify some of what Doug’s saying there, when he says use one size up until the river, he’s saying you look at the board, you decide what size your range, your betting range, wants to go for on that board and then that’s the size you use with your entire betting range. It’s not to say, oh my one size on the flop is 33% pot.
No matter what the flop is, it’s going to be 33% pot. That’s not what he’s saying at all. What he’s saying is let’s say you get a monotone flop, which the solvers really prefer small sizes on that board. Let’s say you get the Ace ten four all club flop and you’re c-betting, your single size on that board might be 20% pot.
If you are betting on that flop, you are betting 20% pot. You’re not betting 20% pot with your top pears and two thirds pot with your flushes. You’re not splitting your range like that. You’re just taking one size and you’re using that with all of your betting hands. But then once you get to the river, things have to change. You have to use two sizes to capture all of the EV that your range has.
Doug Polk (19:36):
I’ll make one more note about that. When you play in a ring game, particularly when you’re playing in ring cash where opponents change constantly, you play all kinds of different opponents all the time. It’s a little less important that your range is disguised because your opponents are going to get less opportunities to figure out what you’re up to and exploit you.
But when you’re playing in a heads up game with someone, they’re going to see so many hands from you that if you do have tendencies and you probably do because you’re a human being, it’s going to become a little bit apparent in some spots what you have or what you’re doing and it’s much more important that your strategy is well blended together in a way that’s hard to see what’s happening than it is to get a little more EV from maybe a set likes a big size, but top pair likes a smaller one. That EV is minimal compared to the EV you give up if your opponent starts to get reads on what you have based on the size that you’re betting. So it’s especially important for you to be protecting which hands go and which size and it’s a lot more simple and frankly just better to be using one size until the river.
Mike Brady (20:35):
Yeah, totally agree. Alright, let’s move on. What is your second tip for post-flop heads up play?
Doug Polk (20:41):
This is a fun one and it might surprise some people, but you need to have some complete non-equity bluffs that to barrel off. So in more classic game types when ranges are narrow, a lot of times your bluffs will have equity. I mean even your pocket pairs that you turn to bluffs, you could always of course river a set, well sometimes in heads with no limit you bluff with hands that are just complete nothing balls that you’re just barreling off and I got some kind of good examples.
So let’s say on a hundred big blinds you flat a three bet with Ace Deuce suited. On a lot of boards, this is going to be your hand that just bets flop, barrels turn and just barrels it off, even if you have no equity at any point in the hand. And I think the main reason for that is that that hand unblocks lots of hands — like middling, middle pair kinds of hands — that might call flop, call turn, fold the river.
Sometimes the solver will use a hand like deuces there. Another hand that it will often use in lines like that are the worst suited connector you can have.
So let’s say that your worst suited connector is four three suited. You call and the flop is king eight deuce. A lot of times this hand’s just going to barrel it off, which seems like a massive punt and if you’re playing ring you’d think to yourself, what’s this guy doing? Well this guy might actually be pretty smart in playing his range in a nice way.
Sometimes your semi bluffs, your straight draws, your flush draws, those could barrel off as well in some spots. But what happens with those hands is a lot of times they block hands that would look to fold the river. So the best example of this is when you have a high flush draw, you rarely barrel off because on the river you want them to have the missed high flush draws and they can’t have those as much because you have one.
The same thing kind of happens with some straight draws in some situations. So I guess basically when you’re in position, a lot of times your bluffs are going to be non-equity hands that have good removal in terms of what they unblock and maybe also some suit interaction.
I’ll make one note about that. Out of position, this does happen from time to time, but it happens a lot less often. The reason is pretty simple. When you’re out of position you simply put need more equity to bluff. So you need to kind of have more ways to win the pot, typically speaking in order to have a profitable bluff. So typically speaking out of position, you’ll be a little less aggressive, you’ll use smaller sizes, you want value by this thinly and you won’t bluff with as many non-equity hands.
Mike Brady (22:55):
That was all really great stuff. So I think the big takeaway there is to really keep an eye out for those no equity bluff spots. Keep an eye on your blockers and your unblockers and try to decide if you need to reach into the bag, pull out some of those low or no equity bluffs because sometimes your range is lacking them or sometimes your natural bluffs don’t really want to bet. So you kind of have to bluff with those other hands to balance out your value range.
Doug Polk (23:18):
I got another good one for you too, Brady. So a lot of times what will happen in single raised pots, same kind of idea in position you get to bluff with more non-equity hands. A lot of times if, let’s just say there’s a flush draw on the flop or on the turn, you’ll barrel with a hand that has just one of the suit on the turn with no equity, it just has one of the suit, because you block some of the flush draws that can call the turn.
Also in those situations, one thing I’ve seen pretty consistently is that it likes to barrel when you have the lower card of the suit than the higher card. That I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you the robots like it. Point of the matter is sometimes you’re going to use non-equity primarily in position when the suits have good relevancy.
Mike Brady (23:56):
Yeah, I have noticed too that oftentimes the computer will choose to continue barreling on the river when that flush completes. So now it’s like the flush draw blocker on the turn, all you blocked on the turn was a flush draw, now you actually block a flush so you actually keep running the bluff, but then when the flush draw misses, now you block that missed flush draw that you want them to have so you don’t bluff as often. An interesting mechanic that we often see.
Doug Polk (24:20):
But that hand might still be a reasonable bluff sometimes because it’s a much better candidate than for example, a flush draw because you only have one of the suit rather than two and a lot of times if you have that low kicker it will block less of the hands that would call turn as a flush draw compared to a high one. Maybe that’s part of why the turn bet is how the turn bet is.
We’re getting pretty far in the weeds here, but I basically just want to kind of highlight the intricacies of non-equity barreling based on texture.
Mike Brady (24:50):
Yeah, really good stuff. I’m sure at least a good segment of our listeners are going to enjoy that little nerd session there. Alright, so moving on.
What is your third and final tip for heads up post plot play?
Doug Polk (25:02):
This is a good one and I think it applies to all forms of poker. If you’re ever in a situation where you find yourself value betting on the river – don’t we all love it. If you’re sitting there and you’re value betting and you’re thinking about Vegas and the mirage, ask yourself, “what hands would I be bluffing with here?” and do that every single time you value bet from now until the end of your poker playing days.
And what you’re going to find is you’re going to have all these spots you didn’t really think about what you’d bluff because when you have a good hand, you’re going to make sure you get paid. If every time you’re trying to get paid in your mind you’re thinking about what should I bluff with here, you’re going to become a better player by changing your mental framework to be more balanced and have a better appreciation for the way you are constructing your ranges.
Mike Brady (25:45):
And I think that’s really important because there’s this thing about poker and it happens to I think players of all levels, but especially more beginner and intermediate players where when you’re value betting, it’s more of a feeling. You feel that your hand is good and you feel that it’s worth value and you want to put money in the pot.
But when you’re bluffing you have to think, it’s no longer feeling. You have to think, is this a good bluff hand? Is this a good spot to bluff? Do I have the right blockers? It’s a lot of thinking and when it’s thinking versus feeling, feeling is generally going to win when it comes to being a human being.
So it’s very, very easy to be one of those players that doesn’t bluff often enough because it’s that extra step, you have to think it’s not just your feeling. So if you’re doing that exercise every single time, you’re going to kind of train your bluff muscle and you’re going to be more capable overall.
Doug Polk (26:36):
I love that, training your bluff muscle. You got to work it out. It’s kind of like biceps, leg day, bluff muscle. You got to make sure you’re getting there, but I think you make a really good point.
The thing is, when you look at human beings and the nature of human beings, we tend to be risk averse and we tend to things where we risk small amounts for large upside. It’s probably one of the reasons why tournaments are so popular, but if you just look at when people invest in something they’re hoping for large returns or when they, let’s just say that they are gambling on something they like long shot odds. People like the idea of I can only risk a small amount and win a lot. People hate the idea of I’m going to risk tons to win nothing. That’s not a human thing.
So for example, if a pot is $80 and the solver goes, oh yeah, I just jam 3000, humans are like, “what, of my money? I’m not doing that.”
So I think when you look at it from that lens of people thinking to themselves, what is my risk profile of this move? It gets very difficult for people and not very appetizing to put their thinking caps on and make that move when they need to make that move. Instead, they are basing it off of the feeling of I don’t want to have to risk that much money. And I think there’s a pretty important step in any poker player’s career or hobby or however you want to call it, where you go from just doing what you feel to I’m doing what I know is right or what I think is right because when I’m playing poker, I’m trying to execute strategy at a high level and that’s what The End Boss System is all about.
It’s all about basically learning what it takes to play really high level poker in very tough situations when you might want to just shut it down, you might want to just give up. But the thing is, when you play tough people, if your mindset is, oh, I just want to feel like I got the nuts, I’m going to win a stack,
You’re going to lose. Those people do not make it playing versus tough opponents in difficult games. So if you want to be someone that’s able to thrive in that kind of environment, I think that this course is the best place to learn to prepare you for playing in games that are going to be difficult.
Mike Brady (28:33):
Yeah, no doubt. And when you watch The End Boss System, you’ll build up that confidence. You’ll have that knowledge to actually make that move in game. I think another thing that a lot of people will do is they might suspect what the correct play is in a certain spot, but like you said, we’re risk averse.
Maybe they’re not a hundred percent sure it’s the right play, so they opt to just check back, wave the white flag, whatever the situation may be. But if you have the confidence to stick in the money and know that even if you get called what you did was the right decision or maybe overbet with a value hand and they fold, but it was the right overbet, so you’re okay with kind of “missing out on value.” It goes a long way to sort of have that knowledge and it gives you that confidence that you need to pull off those big moves.
Doug’s Bonus Tip
Doug Polk (29:15):
If I could do one more tip here, Brady, I know I said three, I’m going to throw you four, I’m going to throw a free one here off the cuff at the end.
There is some common wisdom with poker that if you don’t know what to do, just fold because it’s zero EV and it’s better to just to not make the mistake. I’m going to go a different way on this.
I’m going to say if you’re debating whether you should make a move and it’s close, but you’re not sure, just do it. I mean, look, the reality of the situation is it might be wrong, right?
We’re not perfect, we don’t what the answers are in the moment, but I’ll tell you what I’ve looked at, a lot of poker players play over the years and the number one mistake they make is they are too conservative.
They do not go after enough pots. They don’t fight for the pots that are theirs or should be theirs or maybe even aren’t theirs. So when I hear people trying to avoid loss, what I really think is it’s a mindset of trying to prevent themselves from making a mistake.
Good poker players, if you watch the top guys play, they punt stacks, they punt a stack and you think, man, that was terrible. And then they go run it and maybe it’s brilliant. Maybe they found the perfect combo to make an incredible move, or maybe they just drop punted a buy-in. Who knows? The point is they’re not afraid to make the play that they think is right, recognizing that your instincts will try and lead you astray.
So next time you’re on the river and you’re debating a big bluff, go ahead and run one for Doug, but don’t send me the invoice.
Mike Brady (30:35):
Yeah, please do not, but you can tweet at him. That’s free.
Doug Polk (30:39):
I’ll take a tweet.
Mike Brady (30:40):
Alright, well thanks to Doug. You now have a solid baseline heads up strategy, but if you really want to master wide range scenarios and prepare yourself to crush not only heads up games, but other game types as well, head over to upswingpoker.com and get Doug’s new The End Boss System course.
It’s an incredible course that is guaranteed to change your game for the better. And I’m not just saying that because the course is backed by Upswing Poker’s, 30 day money back guarantee. It’s a risk-free bet. Get the course now and upgrade your poker game. Thanks for listening. I’ll see you in the next one.