The Battle is Real!
One of the most exciting and strategic aspects of poker is the heads-up game. In heads-up poker, there is no in-between, either you finish first or last. Even in a tournament, coming second against your opponent can be agony when you've fought so hard to make it to the final rounds.
So what should you do? Learn the basics and make sure you come out on top!
Play a wider range of hands
In heads-up poker, it's quite common for a high card or small-pair to win. When there are just two players in the game, hands like Ace-high, low pockets etc. dramatically increase in value. While studying poker odds is always helpful, it's especially useful in heads-up poker.
Avoid playing passively
It can be tempting to check, call or simply limp into the pot, but you should only do so occasionally and after much thought. More than just your cards, how you manage your bets will go a long way in winning in heads-up.
Play from position
When in heads-up, the small blind is the preferred position to have as you play second after the flop. This lets you get a better read on your opponent as the game progresses. Pre-flop, it allows you to take the initiative and discover what kind of hand your opponent has. If he simply calls, you can assume he doesn’t have a very strong hand, and if he re-raises then you have an idea that he might be sitting on something better.
All-in-all, the small-blind/button is the position from which you want to make your more aggressive plays.
Keep your cool
It's easy to let your emotions get the best of you when you're winning or losing in every hand. The best way to do this is by giving yourself a few extra seconds each hand before coming to a decision. This will also make it harder for your opponent to get a read on you.
Study your opponent
At the end of the day, heads-up poker is about the mind games between you and your opponent. Look for patterns and be mindful about the difference in play as the positions change. If your opponent tends to simply call or check pre-flop, you can punish him by raising more often. If he tends to make too many bets out of position, create uncertainty by re-raising.
While we've only scratched the surface on the basics of play in heads-up poker, stay tuned for more and share your thoughts with us!