5 Tips to Improve Your Heads-Up Poker Play
You’ve finally made it! You’ve played Texas Hold’em for hours and hours, dodged some scary all ins, caught a couple of breaks and now you are sitting at the final table playing heads up poker. Once the joy of making the final table has subsided you will have to get down to business and stake out your opponent. Hopefully by now you have got a good read on the player, their tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. However, it may be important to know that poker players often switch modes when it comes down to heads up play. A poker players heads up play may be completely different than their regular play. Here are some tips to help you improve your heads up Texas Hold’em poker strategy.
Tip#1 – An Ace in the Hole
The #1 rule of heads up poker play is that when you have an ace as a hole card you will usually be in a dominant position pre flop. You should then raise/re-raise strong to see what the opponent’s reaction will be. Often times an opponent will fold (depending on the specific style of the poker player) for fear of the ace or a pocket pair. Sometimes you may get called but remember, in heads up poker players have a tendency to make loose calls. Odds are you will still be in a dominant position.
Tip #2 – Lower Your Expectations
While playing heads up Texas Hold’em poker, chances are that you cannot afford to wait on a good hand. A quality hand in heads up poker is not the same as when playing with a bigger group. You may have to settle with J-6 off suit and just see what happens. The odds are that many times your opponent will have a bad looking hand as well.
Tip #3 – Try To Pick Up A Betting Pattern
Many poker players have an extremely difficult time playing heads up. Some collapse under the pressure and others become painstakingly obvious in how they bet in heads up. Make sure you keep an eye on your opponents betting habits. Every now and then you may want to call a hand that you know you’re probably beat in just to see what the opponent has. If you can pick up an opponent’s betting habits it’s almost as if they are showing you their hands.
Tip #4 – Mix Up Your Play
Even if you are not getting the best of cards you must always try to mix up your play to throw your opponent off your scent. Raise with 9-4 suited. Call with A-3 offsuit. This way your opponent cannot pick up a good betting pattern from you. Many poker players are not great when it comes to heads up play. By throwing your opponent off your scent it possible that he/she will be enticed into making a careless all-in call. All it takes is one big mistake in heads up play and you’ll have your opponent right where you want them.
Tip #5 – Don’t Over Do the “All-In” Call
Please do not go overboard going all-in. This is like leaving your hand up to fate. There is some luck involved in poker but you don’t want to just get by on being lucky. Besides, doing this is a clear give away that you may be less advanced and a veteran will wait for their chance and BURRY you. Mix up your play, raises, calls and folds, and in the end the better player usually wins out.