How to Play Heads Up Poker

This article will talk about how to play Heads Up poker which is one of the most exciting formats in poker.

Let’s start with a brief explanation of its characteristics. We say that we are playing heads up when the players around the table are only two. It is understandable that there are several differences between this type of Texas Holdem play and the regular full ring or 6 max games.

In HU games there are only two players, which means that both of them must post the blinds and from here comes the first difference. The dealer is the person who must post the small blind and he is the player who is dealt with the first card and he is the one who acts first pre flop. In all of the post flop betting rounds, he acts second.

Heads up poker is considered as one of the hardest poker games because you have to consider a lot of things when you are building your strategy. One of the characteristics of HU play is that you can not play tight. If you play weak/tight, you have less chances to win the pot and an aggressive opponent will run over you. Good heads up poker players tend to be very aggressive in nature and will use all available poker strategies, like 3bet for example. The correct use of 3bet strategy will increase your winrate and give a boost to your bankroll.

Be aware of your opponent’s playing style. This is especially important in Heads up poker when there is one opponent. If he or she is an aggressive player, you have to be more aggressive than him or her.

In Heads Up games, bluffing is an art form and must be timed to perfection. Bluffing in the right spots will allow you to win the pot when you have nothing, which will be quite often when you are playing HU. So, you have to be familiar with your opponent. If you are playing against him for the first time, be very observant and try to find the strong and the weak sides of his play. In heads up play weaknesses in your play are amplified because its just you and your opponent, there is nowhere to hide.

Let’s discuss some Heads Up play strategies. If you are first to bet on the river and your cards are strong you could try to check-raise if you think that your opponent will bet and call your raise more than half as often. If you think that your opponent has a weak hand which they must bet to take down the pot then a check-raise will be beneficial for you as well.

When you have weaker holding when you are in first position, you could bluff if you think that you can get away with it often enough for the play to have a positive expectation. The other line you can take is to check and then fold, if your opponent bets, but you should avoid going to showdown often when you don’t have a made hand. If your hand is not too bad but it is not too good either, you could bet if your opponent calls with more hands than he will bet, if you check. Remember one thing, never check and fold in this situation!

Now, let’s look at the situation when you are the second to act when you play in a heads up poker game. It is a better position as you can see what your opponent will do. So, you could call, if your hand is not worth a raise but has a better chances of winning than the pot odds you have. You can calculate your chances by the sum of the chances that your opponent is bluffing, plus the chances that your hand can beat his hand. You could raise the river in on occasions when you think that it will have a positive expectation, if you think that your opponent will be still underdog by calling your raise. Bluff only when you think that it will be beneficial for you, because bluffing in second position has less chance to take down the pot, as most players feel pot committed once the action gets to the river.

Don’t forget that psychology is one of the most important aspects of Texas Holdem and this also applies for Heads up poker games where momentum is such a big part of the game.

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