i played a lot of poker last weekend, and i really put some pressure on myself by playing a lot of heads-up cash games. i'm more of a heads-up sng player, but i gave it a shot with some interesting results. the first session i was winning probably 85% of the time during the session. i bought in for 10 dollars at a 10nl table and shot up to 13, then 16, then 20, all within the first 20 minutes of the session. then, i made a couple of speculative calls when my opponent moved all in. my 77 lost to J3 after it went all in preflop when my opponent shoved for just under 3 dollars after my raise, and my J7 lost to J9 when he pushed for about 7 dollars on a T7x flop when he rivered a 9. i made two reverse floats with air and tried a bluff on the river when a straight and flush were completed on the river, only to be called by KK...that pot cost me about 9 dollars. i bet about 2.50 on the river, which was slightly higher than my opponent's turn bet. i was kinda surprised by how fast he called, but i was definitely putting him on top top which would have been an A8 in the hole in that situation. i ended up being down about 1.75 to finish that session.

in a 25 nl session, i ended up finishing up about 6.50. in this game, there was a lot of 3-betting going on. there was a lot of thought going into the game postflop too. i was at about even an hour into the session when my 69 beat 54 for a 6 dollar pot...and i only had 9 hi! was pretty incredible that i was able to call my opponent down twice with nothing, end up missing all my draws and not seeing a decent river bluffing card, and STILL winning the pot.

in a 2 dollar 2-table heads-up sng, it took me 50 minutes to finally bust my first opponent, who was constantly folding just about every hand. only the ever-increasing blinds can help u dispose of this kind of opponent, and the final hand my KQ triumphed over QJ. at 50/100, i made a speculative call with 87s when my opponent shoved all-in for about 7.5 bbs after i minraised. i took the gamble and lost to a Kx hand, but found the heart to fight my way back in the match despite being a 2 to 1 chip underdog at this point. the second match only lasted 5 hands or so, as my JJ beat 55 at the 75/150 level.

these games taught me to continue to be brave, and to aggressively bet and raise, while mixing in a few weak calls, b/c u never know the potential that that play can bring with just the flip of another street. u can hit ur hand, get a good card to bluff with, or just check and hope ur opponent checks so he can see just how much ur willing to put in with a strange hand to help set up later plays that can win u more. u have to give ur opponent more tests than they give u, and they have to be tougher. this goes for both tournaments and cash games...it's just that tourneys give u the chance to use the blinds to ur advantage and squeeze the remaining life from ur opponent, while in cash games, u start at the same point each hand. this allows for skill to come through more, but it can be daunting sometimes if fear starts to creep up on u. some people may try to set a goal for the amount they want to win, but i advise just taking it a hand at a time, not worrying where it will take u. if the pickings are good, stay awhile. if not, then u might start to think about when the right time to quit is. both losing and winning a big pot can dramatically change the situation psychologically and cause u to keep playing and possibly playing bad. if u are the kind of player that likes to steer clear from big pots, it's probably a lot easier for u to find a place to stop. but if ur anything like me and crave action, knowing when to quit is a fundamental tool to winning and really seeing ur potential play out. while i can't tell every individual player when the perfect time for them to leave is, i can say with 100% certainty that they should never fear the next hand, and they should play with strong intent and dedication. losing this any time in a poker game, no matter what the format, is devistating. if u like to set goals, i think that's okay, as long as u don't let it affect ur play. if ur at a point where u've made a small profit and feel satisfied, u can't play 5 more hands and play them all passively if the situation is not right, simply b/c ur afraid to go back in the hole. and if u've lost 60% of ur stack, u can't play 5 more hands to either double up or go broke...it just ain't worth it. quit before u let ur goal- setting cause u to make mistakes. from somewhere far away, i get the feeling in my head that's it time i start wrapping things up. i may picture a dollar amount in my head that i want my stack to reach, but i don't force the action to reach it. no matter who u are, hopefully each session u play, u find it painfully hard to leave and unbelievably easy to stay, cause that means ur having fun.
tomorrow i will write a post going into detail about a recent 5 dollar 9-handed sng i won by breaking it down one hand at a time while describing my thought processes. i think this will provide a fresh outlook for all those players who enjoy these kind of tournaments but feel uneasy because they've gone awhile without cashing and it feels hopeless. i've been there many times, and i hope by showing everyone the plays i made to win will help those who are at their wit's end.