Thursday Poker Blog! Heads up Play Part III

Hello all, and welcome to your Thursday Poker Blog!  Not much blogworthy poker hands were played at my weekly poker game last night.  Aside from finishing a disappointing 4th, I only recall a hand where two players had AA, and also that my female dog got abused by my friend’s male dog in a way that set the canine feminist movement back decades.

With that in mind, let’s finish our heads up poker tips.  Strategically, this part of the poker blog comes at a terrible time for me as my group will be having its annual heads up tournament possibly as soon as next week .  So my competitors, some of whom are avid followers of this weekly column, are no doubt scoping out my heads up strategy.  All I have to say is, “Be prepared for ANYTHING, folks!” 

But, in all seriousness, we have discussed four heads-up tips so far:  1) Don’t overestimate a chip advantage; 2) lowering your standards in terms of hand holdings; 3) adjusting your play given position; and 4) bluffing your brains out.  Today we have two final tips for ya:

5) Pre-flop button play:  75% raise, 25% fold, 0% call.  We have discussed the huge edge a player has in position after the flop.  Isn’t it smart to raise the stakes when you are at an advantage?  Raising pre-flop in heads up play is like doubling down in blackjack.  Sure,  you’re not gonna win every time, but it’s the right move.  As you see from my percentages above, I like to raise about 3/4 of the time, and throw away a few garbage hands.  To me, a garbage hand is two unsuited cards that cannot make a straight and are both lower than a king.  I raise everything else except two babies like 2-4.  Otherwise, I raise.  I even prefer hands like 5-7 offsuit to J-3 offsuit, as the straight possibilities strengthen the hand in heads up play. 

Raising almost constantly from the button also 1) disguises the strength of your occasional good hand; and 2) tends to irritate your opponent and ultimately push him into reckless aggression.  When these two trends come together, you can find pre-flop all-ins with large advantages in  your favor.   

6) Don’t be afraid of the big call.  We talked last week about the importance of bluffing in heads-up play.  Bluffing is prevalent in heads up play not just because it is critical to winning, but also participants in most heads up matches in tournaments are playing with “house money,” meaning they already have a profitable 1st or 2nd place cash locked up and are emboldened by the impossibility of losing.  So bluffing is happening for rational and irrational reasons!  With that in mind, don’t be afraid to make a big call when your analysis of the hand tells you that your opponent is full of it.  I have won many a heads up match with big calls holding bottom pair or even king high. 

Explore posts in the same categories: Poker Tips and Tales

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