OK Donk! You and me heads-up

One of the many things that online poker has introduced to the world that rarely happens (rarely, it does happen) is the challenging to heads-up matches from people you have rubbed up the wrong way. In poker, this has become a modern form of duelling, you suck out on somebody and enrage them to the point that they challenge you to a heads-up match, usually for stakes larger than the game you are in.

I had this happen to me today, I limped with pocket aces into a guy whose blind I had been stealing constantly, I knew he was due to take a stand against me, he shoves all-in with ace-ten and I call and bust him from the SNG. “I’m waiting in a $200 HU match for you, come on you p ussy, me and you know d ick, you scared?” etc etc etc. I’m not sure why he was so annoyed at me for beating him with the best hand but he stuck around for the rest of a lengthy Sit and Go berating me.

This rarely happens in casinos, largely because A) Heads-up games are not available most of the time and B) You can actually see each other, I assume most of these angry people are short, Napoleon complex, and wouldn’t dare challenge a bigger man to a heads-up match in case he suggests they just go for an honest punch-up instead. I elected not to join him, partially because I was on a bubble in the SNG and also because I found it funny that he wouldn’t leave my table and was enjoying disappointing him. The question is, should I have gone into the match?

Now, ego is no reason to go into these games, I felt I had no need to prove myself and if you readily accept these challenges to prove yourself then you will never be playing your ‘A’ game. Is it potentially a profitable game?

If you are well versed in heads-up matches, then it is a definite yes, if someone you have already bested challenges you to a game you excel in then you surely will come out on top most of the time. If not then it simply isn’t worth it.

A good reason the take the challenge is that your opponent is definitely on tilt, I’ve only met one person who actually plays better when they are angry so unless its that guy then you are going to get them mano vs mano when they are not 100%, the best possible time to get heads-up.

If, like me, you are at a crucial stage in another game, as you likely will be because of the initial challenge, then you have to weigh up the expected value of the game you are in compared to the heads-up match on offer, the chances are the game you are in will be more profitable because you will have this players chips and the prizes on offer will be more than the doubling of your money a HU match offers.

If the match in question is at a stake higher than you are bankrolled for (and they often will be as is the nature of the challenge) then you certainly must not take the offer, even if you do win this is not a long term profitable strategy – playing above your bankroll in an emotional tear up is a recipe for disaster.

So the next time you are childishly challenged to a heads-up game, swallow your pride and simply ask yourself – is this profitable?

If all else fails, insult their mother.


Copyright © Barry Carter Poker