Heads-Up On The End

We have discussed many of the concepts up till now and all those concepts apply to the situations where there are more cards games to come and where there may be more than two players in the pot. Moreover, if the war that is a poker hand continues from the struggle for the antes to the final showdown, it finally reaches a last round of betting, more frequently between two players. And in the last round, after all the cards are out, you should sometimes apply concepts completely different from those which are operative in previous betting rounds. We shall discuss this concept in this page. They relate to one-winner limit game (except high-low split) when two players are heads-up on the end.

Bluffing on the End

There are two general rules which determine how you perform when you are heads-up on the end - whether you have made your legitimate hand or not and whether you are in first or last position. If your rival has a legitimate hand and you do not have legitimate hand you cannot win without a bluff - a bet or a raise that may affect your rival to fold. You cannot win only by checking or by calling. Ascertaining whether to try a bluff on the end depends on the same reason as any other bet. You have to determine whether the try has a positive expectation. If you bet $20 with nothing and there is $100 in the pot, you have to think your rival will fold more than once in six times so as to earn a profit. Therefore, if the rival folds once in five times, you will lose $20 four times, but you will win $100 once for a net profit of $20 or $4 per hand. However, if the rival folds once in seven times, you will lose $20 six times and win $100 once for a net loss of $20 or $2.86 per hand. Whether a bluffs succeeds to be profitable rely, like other plays on the end, upon an exact judgment of what your rival is suppose to do.

It is hard to get away with a bluff on the end and even much harder to get away with a bluff raise. Your rival wants to fold more often for a bluff raise to earn a profit because you are giving in a double bet. Let's say, as in the last case, your rival bets $20 and there is $100 in the pot. You call his $20 and raise another $20 on a bluff. The pot has increased to $120 including rival's $20 bet but instead you are making $40 investment in an expectation that the rival will fold. As now you are getting 3-to-1 for your money, your rival should not fold more than once in six times but more than once in four times in order to show you a profit. Though when calling your bluff raise, your rival gets 8-to-1 for his money. Thus, rival gets $160($100 already in the pot including your rival's original $20 bet plus $40 of your call and raise) in exchange of his $20 bet. Therefore, in the chapter of raising we noted that it takes a very tough rival, competent of super-tough folds, to throw away a legitimate hand in this position. Average players will always call. The time when a bluff raise might work against them is when you suspect perfectly that they do not possess anything. Many times, when you have nothing and your rival bets, the best play poker then would surely be to fold.

Let us consider the betting strategy heads-up on the end when you have a legitimate hand. You would either be first to perform or last to perform, as noticed earlier, approach changes according to your position. Let's start with the approach in the last position, which is not that difficult as in last position.