"Heads Up Strategy"
February 20, 2009
Heads up play is often the least practiced format of poker since it is the least frequent situation that comes to you when playing poker tournaments. Many people have plenty of experience playing in a full ring game with eight people or even six people but when it comes to heads up, many players do not have as big a bag of tricks to utilise. Here are a few points to help out with heads up play.
Keep The Pot Small
This is a strategy used by many of the top pros. Keeping the pot small allows you to see lots of pots and analyse your play according to your opponent’s actions. Slowly, with careful analysis and small bets, you can then pick slowly and methodically at your opponent's stack, one pot at a time.
Most Flops Miss
During heads up play, most flops will miss most hands. Mathematically, when you flop
a pair, whether it is bottom, mid or top pair, the odds are that you have the best hand. This is time to make small bets to try and secure some of your opponent's chips. There is no need to go for a home run, just methodically take small chunks at a time. Watch out for the "trappy" player who is ready to throw in the big check
raise representing an overpair or two pair.
Aggression with the Small Blind
It is a major advantage in heads up play to be on the small blind or the button
. All the action will always come to you second so you have to advantage of acting last and betting whenever your opponent checks the flop. You can almost play any two cards when on the small blind. Call your opponent’s small raises preflop to show that you are ready to play anything, but only call an all in with the most premium of hands.
Strategic heads up play is more a game of reading your opponent, getting into their heads to work out how they react to the flop and what they like to do with their cards. It is very important that you still make a play with any two cards from the big blind to see the flop. Even though you are out of position, a board that has a good texture for bluffing at or one that intimidates your opponent will give you a good chance to outplay your opponent and accumulate chips.
Mixing It Up
Keeping your game unpredictable will allow you to both trap your opponent and also accumulate chips with nothing. Mix it up with checks, check raises, check calls, raises, etc. Give it all the variety that you have got so that your opponent cannot put you on anything at all.
Use these points to help strengthen your heads up play.