are two basic conditions that determine how you act
when you are heads-up on the end - whether or not
you have made a legitimate hand and whether you are
in first position or last position. Without a legitimate
hand against an opponent with a legitimate hand, you
cannot win except on a bluff- a bet or a raise that
causes your opponent to fold. You cannot hope to win
by checking or by calling. Determining whether or
not to try a bluff on the end is based on the same
logic as any other bet. You have to decide whether
the attempt has positive expectation. If the pot is
$100 and you bet $20 with nothing, you have to believe
your opponent will fold more than once in six times
in order to expect a profit. Thus, if your opponent
folds once in five times, you will lose $20 four times,
but you will win $100 once on average for a net profit
of $20 or an average profit of $4 per hand. However,
if your opponent folds once in seven times, you will
lose $20 six times and win $100 once for a net loss
of $20 or an average loss of $2.86 per hand. Whether
a bluff works often enough to be profitable depends,
like most plays on the end, upon an accurate assessment
of what your opponent is likely to do.
While it's tough to get away with a bluff on the end,
it's much tougher to get away with a bluff raise.
Your opponent needs to fold more often for a bluff
raise to show a profit because you are putting in
a double bet. Suppose, as in the last case, there
is $100 in the pot, and your opponent bets $20. You
now call his $20 and raise another $20 on a bluff.
With your opponent's $20 bet, the pot has increased
to $120, but you are making a $40 investment in the
hope your opponent will fold. Since you are now getting
only 3-to-1 for your money, your opponent must no
longer fold more than once in six times but more than
once in four times for you to show a profit. Yet when
calling your bluff raise, your opponent is getting
8-to-1 for his money. The $100 already in the pot,
plus your opponent's original $20 bet, plus your $40
call and raise adds up to a total of $160 in exchange
for the opponent's $20. So as we noted in the page
on raising, it takes a very tough opponent, capable
of super-tough folds, to throw away a legitimate hand
in this situation. Average players will almost always
call. The only time a bluff raise might work against
them is when you suspect correctly that they have
nothing themselves. Most of the time, though, when
your opponent bets and you have nothing, your best
play is to fold.
Let us now consider betting strategy heads-up on the
end when you have a legitimate hand. You are going
to be either first or last to act, and as we have
noted, strategy changes according to your position.
We'll begin by looking at strategy in last position,
which is not quite so tricky as in first position.
a new player comes into the game, or a player has
been away from the table and missed his blinds, he's
required to post an extra blind to get a hand (or
wait for his turn at the big blind). Because of temporary
disconnects and frequent turnover of players, this
seems to happen often in online games.
This extra blind money is better, in terms of your
odds, than an extra caller because it's not a voluntary
call, and it's from a truly random hand, likely to
be a more than normal underdog.
It's often correct to call with an otherwise marginal
hand when there's an extra blind and you should raise
when you're in front of the extra blind.
Such a situation recently occurred in an online game
where I was dealt A? 6? on the button and a new player
had posted from midposition.
Only one other player limped in addition to the player
who posted, I raised. Both the blinds called along
with the two already in. That's four opponents, but
three of the four were defending blinds, so they figured
to have weaker than normal hands.