This was my most recent SNG, a heads up 100k game I played against a player who only had another 350k or so in their bankroll.
In my experience playing against opponents who meet this criteria, they fall into two camps: hyper tight, and hyper aggressive. Both are annoying to play. You can play the hyper tight ones for 150 hands and win 148 of them and then still lose, and against the hyper aggressive ones, you just have to over fold and wait until you get a good hand you can call them with. Both styles are far from balanced, but the uber-nits are tough to get into a big pot, and when you finally do it turns out they have the nuts.
This player, it turned out, was one of the hyper-aggressive type. On the 3rd hand, I’m dealt KK, standard raise to 120. V raises me to 360. I 4-bet to 1080, and he calls. I flop top set, KQ8, a fairly wet board with broadway and diamond draws. I don’t want to play it slow, so I go for a half pot bet, it’s too much and V folds. I probably should have checked and let him bet into me and trap him, or flat him and let him bet all-in on the river trying to bluff me off of a very strong hand with whatever he had. Based on the fold, I’m guessing either weak Ace, possibly suited but not with the board, or a pocket rag hand, 66-JJ.
After getting most of the chips, V adopts a bizarre strategy of raising about ~70BB to open every hand in order to steal 15 or 30 chips. I soon realize I’m going to have to call very wide and stand my ground. I give him the next 5 hands, having nothing good anyway, and then stand up with Q9o, flop a gutshot draw, check-call a shove chasing my straight, figuring he’s bluffing, but sure enough, big mistake, no bluff, he’s got AK and top pair, and we’re swapping stacks. I could have just folded the next 30 hands and let him steal blinds to get back to even with me, so what am I going to do?
I come right back in the next hand, he raises to 1100 chips and desperation shove my last 1800 chips on a suited Q-rag, he calls with QJs, and I get super lucky for once and make a flush to get back over him, 3700-2200.
He still has too many chips to be neutered, and he goes right back to massive bluffy preflop raises that I fold junky hands to. Then he disconnects from the table or sits out for several hands and I take advantage, raising each hand as quickly as I can to steal back as many blinds as he stole from me. He comes back and resumes the 800-chip opens, I resume folding my 53o, 72, and J3o.
When I get a playable hand, I open to 120, and he folds, then comes back and runs 800-chip bully bluffs every time he’s in the SB, and then disconnects again for several hands. He’s in Argentina according to his profile, maybe he just has a bad connection.
I endure about 40 hands of this nonsense, and eventually, the final hand of the game, he limps. Weird, I think, and I’m holding Q2o, so I don’t want to re-open the action and let him run over me with yet another massive bluff, so I check. Flop gives me bottom pair, 22s. I check, expecting to fold when he massive overbets, and he just checks back. Hmm. The Turn is another 2, and now I bet for pot, putting 80 into 80. V calls. OK. Then on the river, I pair my Queen, full house, and I bet pot. V shoves. Ha ha ha ha ha, I call, V has J2, and I win the game. Stronger hand than I was expecting him to have, to be honest, but how typical. I had a hand there was no way I could fold, only losing to QQ, 88, 55.
This was a terrible player, really, extremely unbalanced, but his bet sizing made him a big pain to deal with. I won more due to getting a very strong hand the first time he tried to challenge me, and ended up blowing it, both by not getting more value out of that hand, but also by trying to call him wide when I lost my next big hand and let him double up. I only won the tournament because I got super lucky to overcome a dominated Queen under Queen situation with a flush, and then backed into a 2nd nuts hand in a situation V thought he could trap me with what ordinarily would have been the best hand a lot of the time.
It wasn’t exactly my skill or experience that won here, and that bothers me. I should be able to beat an unbalanced player without so much risky play, and in the end I only barely won by getting lucky in the one spot where I was truly at risk, and having the better hand in 2 of the remaining 3 big hands.
So I still think balance is probably a good thing for a well-rounded player to aspire to, but it is also somewhat overrated.