Playing Heads Up Tips

5 Tips To Use When
Playing Heads Up Poker

Some Quick Tips for Your Game

In last nights impromptu on-line poker games I noticed something that seems to be pretty Playing Heads Up Tipscommon. A lot of players who play great poker through an entire game lose it when they get to heads up play.

Playing heads up, meaning playing against only one other opponent. If you’re a winning tournament player you’ll always need a strong grasp of ideas and concepts that go into a good strategy for winning heads up. Remember, these tips are for Heads up Poker Strategy

In last nights online game I ended up heads up, even stacked, against a player who had played extremely well throughout the game. In fact, going into the heads up match, I thought I was going to have to get lucky to beat this guy. But that wasn’t the case.

He, as so many players do, went into super aggressive mode… not a horrible strategy, but possibly not the best.

He was raising, calling raises, bluffing. Not that any of these things are bad, but when you just apply them arbitrarily, more often than not, you’re going to come in second place. He ended up calling my all-in with A2o and lost to my AKs. Now, I guarantee that he would have folded that at any other point of the game.

It was over a couple hands later.

I think short table and heads up play are my strengths. In fact, most of my poker experience has been at short tables. My first year and a half of poker was spent playing 4-6 person home games. Then when I started playing on-line I mainly played 5-6 person SNG’s and cash games and then went on a stretch of Heads up Sit N Go’s.

In fact, I feel much more comfortable playing heads up and short handed than I do at a full ten person table. Especially on-line where I get bored and distracted waiting for hands at a 10 person table.

Anyway, I haven’t read a lot about Heads Up Poker Strategy so I don’t know if this is the correct approach, but here are my thoughts, based on what I’ve seen, on heads up play. You can read more good articles on playing heads up poker here. Learn how to set up a Heads Up Poker Tournament and get access to brackets and blind schedules.

Here are my 5 tips you can use to improve your ‘Heads Up’ poker play

1. You don’t have to play every hand. It’s ok to fold your small blind if you have a lousy hand. Most players heads up play every hand. IMO, this is a mistake. You can’t wait for the best of the best, but you don’t have to play 63o either.

Don’t worry about the chips you’re losing here. Folding the small bind makes the other player think you’re only playing good hands so you’ll be able to raise him off of his BB enough to make up for it.

2. Don’t limp from the small blind, at least not very often. For the most part, you should either fold it or raise it. Save your limping for the BB. You don’t have position, so you need to win most of these hands pre-flop. The BB will probably raise you anyway. You need to be the one leading the betting.

The exception is if you get a monster like KK or AA.

3. Slow play the monster hand. If you get a big pocket pair, let the other overly aggressive player do the betting for you. This is player dependant, but if you’re against a player like I was playing last night, who kept using the all-in bluff, why not let him lead the way.

4. Mix up your play, a lot. I like to play a few hands in a row where I raise every hand and follow that by several folded small blinds. Switch up your raises from the minimum raise to a big half your stack raise. Keep the other player confused.

A confused player tends to be a passive player.

5. Don’t forget what got you there! If you’re a tight aggressive player and that’s what got you to the final two, then keep being tight aggressive. Don’t suddenly become loose aggressive. You’ll be out of your element.

Obviously your play has to loosen up when you get to this point, but you don’t have to be an “any two cards” type. It’s still ok to fold middle or bottom pair to an all-in bet.

Do you agree or disagree with anything above? What are your heads up poker strategies? Feel free to add more to the list or tell me that I have no idea what I’m talking about

-jtd
If you’re interested in practicing your heads up play a great way to gain experience is through playing tournament style heads up matches. Also known as Heads up Sit-n-go’s and they are available online 24/7. These are fantastic practice tools to improve your game!

Permission is granted to reprint this article on your site provided you include the entire article, with the exception of this paragraph. You must include the links back to my site if you decide to reprint this article on your site.

Play Head Up poker at Bodog Poker.

Texas Holdem Basics.

Heads Up Poker Strategy

Hand Examples & Analysis From
A $200 Heads-Up Online Match

This hand analysis is from a $200 heads up match online. I’ve gone through the key hands in the match and let you know exactly why I made the play. All of my thoughts and ramblings are in bold.
Travis C, aka Travo.

Level I (10/20) – 2005/10/25 – 06:00:09 (ET)
Seat 1: BCournut (1500 in chips)
Seat 2: Travo (1500 in chips)
BCournut: posts small blind 10
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Travo [Jh Qs]
BCournut: raises 60 to 80
Alright first hand I get raised 3 times the big blind. Now from what I experienced this tells me either the guy has an amazing hand or he is very aggressive. So I make the call with my decent QJ and find out.
Travo: calls 60

*** FLOP *** [4s 9h Th]
Travo: checks
BCournut: checks
When he checks in the dealer spot on the flop it makes me think he is weak, so I am betting the turn regardless what comes up.

*** TURN *** [4s 9h Th] [Qc]
I hit top pair but I would still make the same bet if I don’t hit just to test his hand. He folds and I collect the pot.
Travo: bets 60
BCournut: folds
Travo collected 160 from pot
Travo: doesn’t show hand

Level I (10/20) – 2005/10/25 – 06:00:34 (ET)
Seat 1: BCournut (1420 in chips)
Seat 2: Travo (1580 in chips)
Travo: posts small blind 10
BCournut: posts big blind 20

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Travo [9c Kc]
So I get king 9, a decent hand heads up, but Im just going to call rather than raise to see how this guy is going to play me after I outplayed him on his raise the hand before.
Travo: calls 10
BCournut: raises 80 to 100
He raises 4 times big blind, instead of folding this hand which I usually would Im going to call and see how aggressive this guy is.
Travo: calls 80

*** FLOP *** [2s 5c 6d]
BCournut: checks
He checks the 6 high flop which makes me immediately think he just has an ace high .
Travo: checks

*** TURN *** [2s 5c 6d] [2c]
BCournut: checks
After he checks the turn Im convinced he is going to try to win this pot with ace high, so Im going to put a bet out on the river to try and buy it.
Travo: checks

*** RIVER *** [2s 5c 6d 2c] [Qh]
BCournut: checks
Travo: bets 100
Queen comes up and I bet a decent amount, he folds.
BCournut: folds
Travo collected 200 from pot
Travo: doesn’t show hand

After this hand I think of this guy as aggressive and weak. He can bet big preflop but will not follow it up unless he catches.
Now im gonna skip through a couple hands that we folded back and forth to minimum pots.

Seat 1: BCournut (1410 in chips)
Seat 2: Travo (1590 in chips)
BCournut: posts small blind 10
Travo: posts big blind 20

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Travo [3s 9s]
BCournut: calls 10
Travo: raises 40 to 60
I’ve lost a couple blind hands so I try to mix it up here and raise in the big blind
BCournut: calls 40
After he calls I plan on trying to outplay him.

*** FLOP *** [Js 3h Tc]
Travo: bets 40
BCournut: raises 80 to 120
I hit low pair of 3s on the flop and bet, he raises pretty decent for what the amount of the pot was. I think this is a weird fishy bet, possible a bluff so I call.
Travo: calls 80

*** TURN *** [Js 3h Tc] [4s]
Travo: checks
BCournut: bets 280
He bets 280 on the turn. Right now I think hes trying to buy the pot with this huge bet, it’s a low card that couldn’t have helped him. Notice that I have a flush draw but Im not calling to catch it Im simply calling thinking my 3s are good.
Travo: calls 280

*** RIVER *** [Js 3h Tc 4s] [Ks]
Travo: bets 520
To my luck I hit a flush on the river. I put a big bet out of 500 and he calls. He shows k 5. I don’t feel lucky for hitting this because I was right that my 3s were good the whole time, he paired on the river but helped me out more.
BCournut: calls 520

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Travo: shows [3s 9s] (a flush, King high)
BCournut: mucks hand
Travo collected 1960 from pot

We go back and forth again raising preflop and folding. I have a good lead on him now so I am not going to try to steal any unnecessary pots while these blinds are so low.

Seat 1: BCournut (250 in chips)
Seat 2: Travo (2750 in chips)
BCournut: posts small blind 10
Travo: posts big blind 20

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Travo [3h 3c]
BCournut: raises 230 to 250 and is all-in
I knocked this guy down a little bit more and I pick up 3s when he goes all in. I call hoping to survive the race but to my misfortune he has a higher pair.
Travo: calls 230

*** FLOP *** [3d Ah Qc]

*** TURN *** [3d Ah Qc] [7d]

*** RIVER *** [3d Ah Qc 7d] [Jd]

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Travo: shows [3h 3c] (three of a kind, Threes)
BCournut: shows [7c 7s] (three of a kind, Sevens)
BCournut collected 500 from pot
You can see how the hand went out I hit a set on the flop should be game but he resucks on the turn with his set. I was wondering why that 4th 3 didn’t come up. At this point it seems to be an all in show with him so I just wait until I get a decent hand to call with.

Level I (10/20) – 2005/10/25 – 06:06:47 (ET)
Seat 1: BCournut (440 in chips)
Seat 2: Travo (2560 in chips)
BCournut: posts small blind 10
Travo: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Travo [As Jh]
BCournut: raises 420 to 440 and is all-in
I call his all in with a hand I thought for sure I would be ahead with but he had a pair so we went to the races again.
Travo: calls 420
*** FLOP *** [2d 8s 6h]
He hits his set and starts to make a comeback at me.
*** TURN *** [2d 8s 6h] [Kc]
*** RIVER *** [2d 8s 6h Kc] [9c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Travo: shows [As Jh] (high card Ace)
BCournut: shows [6s 6d] (three of a kind, Sixes)
BCournut collected 880 from pot

I stay calm and play the guy the same way Ive played him the whole match.

He catches a couple big hands while I catch decent hands and makes a big comeback. I try to agitate him a little bit here to make him think I don’t really have a hand but he doesn’t bite.
Level II (15/30) – 2005/10/25 – 06:10:21 (ET)
Seat 1: BCournut (1580 in chips)
Seat 2: Travo (1420 in chips)
BCournut: posts small blind 15
Travo: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Travo [2d Js]
BCournut: calls 15
Travo: checks
*** FLOP *** [Jh 5h Td]
Travo said, “look at the two outer that sprung life up from the grave”
Travo: checks
BCournut: checks
*** TURN *** [Jh 5h Td] [3d]
Travo: bets 30
BCournut: folds
Travo collected 60 from pot
Travo: doesn’t show hand

This next hand is critical for a hand right after this.

Level II (15/30) – 2005/10/25 – 06:13:06 (ET)
Seat 1: BCournut (1490 in chips)
Seat 2: Travo (1510 in chips)
Travo: posts small blind 15
BCournut: posts big blind 30

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Travo [5h Ad]
Ive been playing the guy a little more aggressive than usual and raise him here with my ace 5.
Travo: raises 60 to 90
BCournut: calls 60
*** FLOP *** [Qd 7c 2s]
BCournut: checks
I bet the flop normal planning to bet bigger later on to represent top pair.
Travo: bets 60
BCournut: calls 60
*** TURN *** [Qd 7c 2s] [7h]
BCournut: bets 120
He calls and bets 120 before I can act on the turn, this play seems strange to me since Ive seen the way this guy has played and I would never think he would bet trips without trying to trap me, I call thinking my ace high is good.
Travo: calls 120
*** RIVER *** [Qd 7c 2s 7h] [Qh]
BCournut: checks
Travo: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
BCournut: shows [5s 2d] (two pair, Queens and Sevens)
Travo: shows [5h Ad] (two pair, Queens and Sevens – Ace kicker)
Travo collected 540 from pot
River queen and we both check, he shows that he had twos but now just 5 high after the river. I don’t normally put people that call my raises preflop on 52, I got a bit lucky my ace high held up but I know that pissed him off that he lost on the river. This guy raised 3 hands in a row before this hand, so Im thinking that hand from before put him on tilt.

Level II (15/30) – 2005/10/25 – 06:13:45 (ET)
Seat 1: BCournut (1250 in chips)
Seat 2: Travo (1750 in chips)
Travo: posts small blind 15
BCournut: posts big blind 30
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Travo [Kd 4h]
Travo: calls 15
BCournut: raises 60 to 90
He raises this hand which I am not surprised. I call this hand out of value, thinking my king high is the best right now.
Travo: calls 60

*** FLOP *** [Th Kc Ah]
An ace flops along with my king so I know hes going to bet it to represent that he has the ace.
BCournut: bets 120
Bets pretty big I call.
Travo: calls 120

*** TURN *** [Th Kc Ah] [3d]
BCournut: bets 240
He then bets 240 on the turn, now Im convinced he doesn’t have the ace with the big bet. Instead of raising I just call because if I raise here and he has nothing he will lay it down, just calling here which lets him think that I might be drawing at a hand and will lay it down on the river if he bets big.
Travo: calls 240

*** RIVER *** [Th Kc Ah 3d] [3s]
BCournut: bets 800 and is all-in
Another blank at any draw and he goes all in I instantly call knowing my kings are good. He shows 9 high and I win the match.
Travo: calls 800

*** SHOW DOWN ***
BCournut: shows [8d 9c] (a pair of Threes)
Travo: shows [Kd 4h] (two pair, Kings and Threes)
Travo collected 2500 from pot
This is my first article I am writing about my heads up play. I will be writing more articles about different players that I play. There is about 5 different types that I consider how people play. This guy is considered to be my aggressive/weak player, one of the more easier people to beat but not as easy as a weak/tight player (by far the easiest money around).

If you have any questions about the article or want to know more let me know on the Ohio State Poker Forum or talk to me on aim(Travo35).
Ohio State Poker

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