Knowing how to play heads up is extremely important because the most money is awarded to the final players at the end of the tournament. One of the most important poker tips to remember when playing heads up is you need to understand that you are going to get dealt crap most of the time but so is your opponent. You’re going to miss flops but so is your opponent.
If I was limited to 6 of the most important poker tips on how to play heads up I would have to say these 6 tips would be heads up play they would most frequently apply.
- Be in the right position at the table you are in. Today I play on fulltilt poker and for some reason most players I play against would play ANY hand, they are emergency license to hold em. Not having Grail access I can only play with them for roughly 15 minutes before I decide they are plain hate. That being said if you are in the cutoff or in the small blind, etc. then you are in perfect position to receive the best of it.
- Always know your opponent. As an example, every time you are in the small blind, big blind or head up you should be watching for the standard preflop raise, the continuation bet and the flop bet. Also when you are out of position you should be evaluation the betting and also the re-raise. And if you ever go all in you should be reading the board and how your opponents play, etc.
- Know what position you are in. Again, if you are in the cutoff or close to the cutoff you are in good position. If you are in the big blind you are in bad position. The one thing you have to remember about aggressive heads up play is you want to be aggressive against good players, vs. bad players. Attitude is huge.
- Know your opponent’s tendencies. You can analyze this on your opponent bys and what hand ranges they play, etc. You should try to play aggressive versus tight players, etc. I also think heads up poker tournament strategy will be very useful for people who play a ton of poker but for the most part your basic heads up strategy should be the same in heads up play.
- On the flip side, you don’t want to be an aggressive player only for the flop or a free card. If you are making a standard raise you should have a real hand if you are calling a bet on the flop. Besides, you are out of position with the big blind and may have to commit more chips if you call. Therefore, if you don’t have a hand, don’t commit more chips than you have to.
- Some teams are easier to read than others. Good read people can play pretty much any hand, especially heads up. They know who the loose players are, they know who the calling stations are, they know who is susceptible to a triple barrel and they are always guessing. Also, good read players know when to call and bluff.
- Lastly, you are going to find that some players are stronger playing heads up than in a flop game. Some players simply love the risk and love the uncertainty. I was watching the WPT on a Sunday night and saw Ed Foster crushing a $1/$2 heads up table with a hand like A-9 suited… and he made no mistakes and won the tournament.
- Some players can’t handle the big blind.Big blind confrontations are a lot of this occurrence. If you are a big spender pre-flop, you better find a way to extract the big money. At least, that’s my%; however, I have seen Daniel Negreanu make the call on the flop with K-6 and if you disallow him to draw out with three bets, you are better off with the K-6. Big blind play is often something that affects your overall strategy.
- A general rule of thumb is to raise under the gun and to fold on the button. You want to isolate the play between you and your opponent. You don’t want two players drawing out against each other. Don’t be intimidated by the super-aggressive players who seem to always call a flop with jacks, queens, eights, or even something like A-J. That’s the first thing you need to figure out — limit your opponents’ options. Once you know your opponents are weak, you need to be in tune with their betting.
- Table position may be more important than most people think. With only 43 of these crooks playing at Sidney Pools, luck absolutely has to play its hand. But there is so much table position theory and practice going on that even if you are a bad player the majority of people are going to be sharks at the table.