Key Tips for Heads Up Poker
September 15, 2010
8 Key Tips For Heads Up Poker
Playing heads up poker can prove to be a very profitable game for an experienced player because the game offers a better winning ratio than a game that contains more opponents.
Due to the ratio that the game variant offers, it becomes a hugely popular game for medium stake players.
So the game can prove profitable to experienced players but what do they need to know to create a higher winning percentage?
There are a number of tips that will help you to improve your heads up poker game strategy:
1. Play Stakes That Are Comfortable
One of the biggest mistakes that a poker player can make is playing at a stake that is too rich for their bankroll, although the attraction of fast money is very tempting you should also consider that you are also more likely to lose a larger amount than you wanted to.
The guidelines that are recommended for players who are taking to the real money tables is that you should be able to afford to play 100 big blind related hands, this means that you are not placed into a situation where your play is rushed due to the blinds making their way around the table.
2. Learn From Your Mistakes
Having the ability to learn from your mistakes is something that all good poker players should be able to do but more importantly you have to be able to admit that you have made a mistake.
A mistake is not made whenever you lose every hand, you could find that you are subject to a run of bad luck after you have played a good poker strategy.
For a play to have been a mistake, you would have to have made a poor play, something like raising their raise in the hope that they are trying to make a bluff.
After you lose a hand, analyse how you played it and try to find out where you could have read a little more into your opponents play.
3. Alter Your Playing Style
Variation is one of the biggest weapons that a successful poker player could have within their arsenal. The reason for this is that varying your play means that you become harder to read by your opponent.
Being harder to read means that you still offer an air of mystery while you are playing. That sense of mystery means that players are less likely to be able to assess your cards by your betting style alone.
Altering your style doesn’t mean that you have to alter a huge aspect of your game, you don’t have to check where you would normally raise or vice versa, a simple reduction in betting size would be enough to throw your opponent into a sense of doubt.
4. Know When To Fold
So many players approach the heads up variant of poker in a manner that makes them feel that folding is not an option.
If you find that you have placed a medium sized bet into the central pot then you have to weigh up why the player has either called or raised you.
Your opponent could have made a hand, be chasing a draw of some sort of strength or they could be looking to try to keep you honest while looking to bluff you at a later stage.
If you find that you keep firing into the pot and your opponent is calling or showing signs of strength, its time to consider the real strength of your hand.
Don’t be afraid to fold your hand or alter your bets in to a check call because ultimately this alteration could be the difference between you finding your chips taken from under your nose or you saving enough chips to be able to forge a comeback should you find out that you have run into a better hand.
5. Bluffing Can Be Profitable
Bluffing in heads up poker is more likely to pay off when you are playing heads up poker, mostly due to the reduced player count at the table.
A well placed show of strength would offer the impression that you are in fact holding a well ranked hand and so your opponent would look into their pocket cards to determine if they were interested in calling your bluff.
Heads up poker strategy is highly bluff based and so you will find that there are a lot of players who are showing strength when really they are carrying very little weight.
Position is an great weapon that you can use against your opponent.
Being the first to act can mean that you are able to place a high bluff into the pot in order to steal blinds from your opponent but being smart with your play, there are a number of ways that you can increase the central pot amount.
The best way would be to wait until you have a strong hand and then alter the way that you are playing, just call the action and let your opponent do the betting. Just ensure to take the pot down once you are happy with the amount in the pot as being too greedy could lead to an upset and your opponent drawing a card that increases their strength past yours.
An aggressive approach comes hand in hand with heads up poker due to the reduced chances of players drawing high pairs within their hole cards.
A tight and passive player will find that they are subject to a large number of raises that will see their stake losing small but constant chips.
Paired with a chip stack of the maximum allowed, this strategy can become very hard to play against because of the amount that the caller, who is currently holding at the table, would have to invest to see the next card.
Remember that a high percentage of the time your opponent will not be holding a strong hand, so you will always have the opportunity to bully your opponent.
8. Reading Your Opponent
Having the ability to analyse your opponent in order to extract information from the patterns that they create is something that is required in all variants of poker.
This information means that you are able to place opponents onto hands with the use of ‘tells’ that they unknowingly offer to you, things like how they bet and how they might play a high rank hand.
Using this information means that you will have to adapt your play in order to counter their techniques and advances but with practice and the right mentality this will only have a positive effect on your play.
If you feel that you are unable to adapt to the style of play that would best counter this player then you would have two options, either leave the table and head for another one or look to influence your opponent into another playing style.