Heads Up Poker Strategy

Heads-up poker is a completely different beast to other forms of poker played online. This article will look at the different strategies which apply solely to this form of the game, since the playing style that was successful at the full ring tables will no longer work as successfully as they did.

One of the notable differences once you transition over to the heads up poker tables is that it’s much more of a person to person game where you are playing your opponents as much as your own cards. When you’re playing heads up poker, you don’t have to have the best hand to win the pot, it’s just a requirement to get the other player in heads up to fold.

Of course, the same holds true when you are playing in any poker game when there is a bluffing aspect to the game, but no more so than in heads up poker games, because it forces you to to be playing a wider range of hands, since you will either be in the small or big blind every hand.

So, you can’t just be waiting around for premium hands, and so it forces the action, but due to the fact that players are playing wider ranges, both opponents will rarely improve to very strong hands on the flop. And so the first player to take the initiative in the hand can take down the pot.

It is not possible to win in heads up if you take a passive approach to the game and choose to simply call and fold to further aggression in the hand when you’ve missed. This is true for any form of poker, but even more so in heads up, when you’re playing so many more hands, and not getting paid off as much as you would at a full ring table full of weaker opponents since it’s much more likely someone will have a hand.

So you really need to play you heads up opponent and learn to use position well. Position is vital in all forms of poker, but especially in the heads up poker format, as your opponent will be forced to play lots more weaker hands out of position when you open from the small blind and they defend their big blind.

When your small blind raise gets called, you really want to try and keep the pressure on the other player by continuing through with a continuation bet on the flop and you can do this relentlessly if your heads up opponent is passive and just trying to make strong hands in order to continue in the hand.

If you keep up with the aggression, then eventually most opponents will either leave the table out of frustration or start adjusting by raising c-bets as bluffs or calling off lighter. If this starts happening then you need to adjust yourself, sometimes deciding to limp on the button, which there is a greater chance of doing against a passive opponent that is happy to check it back , and sometimes by re-raising the c-bet on the flop, when you suspect your opponent doesn’t have anything. By mixing up your heads up game and showing you can turn down the aggression at times, it makes you unpredictable to play against, and your aggressive play will get more respect.

Another benefit of exploiting position in heads up poker, is that it allows you to control the size of the pot. This is possible because you will be the last person to act post-flop. If your opponent gets to act last in the hand, then there is the potential any bet you make gets raised, which is never ideal when you have a medium strength hand. But you can counter this by playing the vast majority of your hands in position, by limping and raising from the small blind when you will have position in the hand after the flop.

Another very important concept to grasp when it comes to playing heads up is bet sizing. Is your opponent giving away any information through the sizing of their bets? The key thing to look for is patterns in their play and if they ever deviate from their usual play. For example, if they are always c-betting half of the pot, and then all of a sudden they are betting 1/3 of the pot, it could just mean they are taking a stab with a weaker hand, but it can be player dependent, and it would be ideal to see hands in such situations get to showdown, to know if your reads on the opponent were accurate, as well as to know what types of hands they were doing this with.

All in all, an aggressive style is mandatory if you want to do well in heads-up poker. It will assist you in taking the betting lead and stealing more pots, which is very important, since you will rarely have much of a hand.