Thursday Poker Blog! Heads Up Play Part 2

Hello all, and welcome back to Poker Thursday here at the blog!  After looking over my past posts, I noticed that in my euphoria over that perfect storm hand at my home game last week, I never came back to you with additional heads-up tips as promised the week before!  Sorry about that, and don’t be afraid to call me out with a comment when necessary!

So far, we have discussed the tips of 1) not overestimating the power of a lopsided chip count; and 2) recognizing premium hands in heads up play.  Let’s continue:

3) Position, position, position.  Position takes on a whole new meaning in heads up play.  Whereas at a full table, position dictates hand selection for about 10 different mediocre hands (i.e., QJ) and tweaks your post-flop play, position affects EVERYTHING in heads up play.  In heads-up play, the dealer is the small blind and the opponent is the big blind.  The dealer gets to open the action pre-flop, but then of course continues to act last after the flop.  Again, due to the blinds being typically high compared to the chipstacks at the end of matches, 1 or at most 2 missteps will totally turn the tables.  With all the bluffing that (rightly) takes place in heads-up play, being out of position is very dangerous.  You find yourself taking major stabs at pots for significant parts of your stack, hoping your opponent is not waiting to come over the top of you with top pair.  Because of the huge advantage of being in position, I employ completely different betting styles in heads up play, depending on position.  In position, I play small-ball.  Small raises pre-flop (a little over 2x the blinds) and generally small bets afterward.  Out of position, I typically go 4x the blind with pre-flop raises and continue to bet big after the flop.  Why?  Cause I want to end the hand rather than continue to play from this disadvantageous spot. 

4) Bluffing is Mandatory.  More than at any other point in the game, in heads-up play you play the opponent much more than the cards.  If you wait for a strong pre-flop hand or a hand that flops two pair, more often than  not you will be holding about 5% of the chips by the time that ever happens.  You need to focus on your opponent at this point, and if a pot there is out there for the taking, take it!  If you establish a tone of bullying and scooping all the little pots, your opponent will become easy to read, and eventually will have to resort to all-in mode as you cease a chip advantage. 

We will be back with some final heads-up tips next week!

Explore posts in the same categories: Poker Tips and Tales

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