Heads up poker is playing one on one against another opponent. There are many ways that you might find your self heads up against another player – playing a simple ring game and all the other players leave the table, it’s down to you and another opponent in a tournament that you are playing or maybe you selected a heads up poker game at your favorite online poker room.
Heads up poker games have become very popular and to be successful at it you need a different strategy playing heads up poker than you do when playing at a full table.
Heads up poker is about understanding your opponent. It is more than just playing the cards. Players that do well are players that play a lot of hands and play them aggressively. Being a good player in a heads up game not only requires aggressive play but also requires the ability to read hands well and to be able to play the poorer hands well.
In your typical ring game, you usually need a pretty good hand in order to win the pot. This is not the case in heads up poker. In heads up poker you need to play the majority of hands. If you fold too much then you will end up losing a lot of money when posting the blinds.
Your main weapon in heads up poker is going to be the raise. Especially if you feel you have a better hand than your opponent. On thing to remember is that starting hand values have greatly increased because there are only two players in the hand. Choosing to play high cards can be very effective especially if you play them aggressively.
Low and middle pairs now end up being powerful as well.
When you have a hand that you feel reasonably confident that you can win with, that is the time to get money into the pot and put the pressure on your opponent. When you don’t feel your hand is very strong that is when you look not to raise or put money into the pot.
If you are up against a player that you know bluffs a lot I recommend that you slowplay a good number of hands on both the flop and turn. Then I recommend that you raise on the river.
Let’s take a look at how that strategy looks in heads up poker.
Our assumption is that because we are playing heads up our opponent is aggressive, sometimes super aggressive. This is when I like to slow play my hands. Suppose that I have a pair of Kings and my opponent raises.
Most of the time in this situation I will call him before the flop to trap him later on. Suppose the flop is K-9-5. Now I like to check and just call again. Let’s say that the next card is a 2 so the board reads K-9-5-2. Now I check again and if my opponent bets, I finally raise. If I trap my opponent here he will be less likely to bluff on every hand, because he knows that I am capable of trapping him again soon.
This is a good example of playing the player.
Heads up poker is fun, it is fast and you can expect some pretty big swings in your bankroll. Fortunately you can find some reasonable limits to play at online. I like to play in $5/$10 heads up games at Bodog Poker. You can actually start out in Heads up games for as little as $2/$4 or $3/$6 at Full Tilt which I think is a perfect limit to start out at if you are new to heads up play.