22August2017

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Playing heads up

Playing heads up is a lot different to playing on a full table. It is imperative that if you have only played larger tables, you do not change thinking that playing heads up is the same because it is not. Even some of the best multi table tournament player's struggle to play heads up because of the differences between the two styles. Here, we will explore this game type in more detail.

Revalue your hands based on your stack

If you are playing a heads up tournament, then it is important that you do not rush your play and pick your spots. Too many players think that because they are playing heads up they need to push it in with a mediocre hand, and this will work to your advantage. Remember the basics of poker and keep an eye on your chip stack at all times. Only when you start to fall into the range of 10 times the big blind should you start worry about shoving.

If you are playing heads up in a tournament, then the chances are the blinds are high in comparison to your stack. Say you are 10 times the big blind which is not uncommon if you are playing a sit n go or MTT, in this situation you should shove with;  any ace or king, Q4+, J9+, T9+, 98+ and any pocket pair.

Now, you might think that is a huge range, but the chance of the other player having a better hand then that is less than 50%, and unless the other player has a good hand or is willing to make a call with a mid-range hand you should be able to take the blinds. Showing the initiative will allow you to win in one of two ways, stealing the blinds or winning the pot outright. If you are calling a shove the rules are slightly different; any ace or king, Q6+, JT+ and any pocket pair. As you can see here the range is less, but you should not be afraid to call an all in bet heads up with Q6.

Reading your opponent

One thing you will find that you do a lot in heads-up poker is to play the player rather than the hand. If you are not, then you are not playing correctly. The best way to work out how to play your opponent is to watch them and make notes. If you are thinking about starting as a heads up cash player, then you will come across the same players repeatedly, and you can really use this to your advantage.

In this situation, take a few days to sit there and evaluate the regulars at your intended limit. In this time, you will find the players you think you will be able to have a better chance of winning against, and evaluate their styles. This will give you a huge advantage over them, epically as they will know nothing about you when you start out.

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