No matter what type of poker you play, it eventually comes down to two players competing for the prize and pot of money. This is called heads up poker.
Heads up poker is similar to boxing if you constantly defeat your opponents, you become the winner, win fame and most players will never want to involve themselves in battle with you.
But, if you are a newbie and play against a seasoned heads-up pro, you will feel like a punching bag that is being punched north, south, east, and west given his superior experience and skill.
Since you end up playing against one opponent, the odds of having the best hand is much higher as compared to playing with several players because you just have to beat your opponent’s hand. So, if you want to play like a professional poker player, and want to beat your opponents in all directions, here are the five best poker strategies you must apply.
When you are playing heads-up, it is essential to be a more aggressive player. Aggressiveness is the key and continues leading out with bets as well as raising your opponent’s bets. Nevertheless, when playing heads up, most players become so aggressive that they don't consider the board and the possible hands their opponents may have. This leads to a situation where the player with their aggressive play wins many small pots but loses big one when they run into their opponent with a premium hand. So, during face-to-face games, you should use your skills in reading them and evaluate the range of hands they might have.
Any Ace is lucky
When you have an ace as a hole card, you will generally be in a dominant pre-flop position. You should raise/re-raise in order to see how your opponents will react. They will usually fold (depending on the particular style of the poker player) because of the fear of a pocket pair or an ace. Also, sometimes you might get called but remember that in heads up poker the player tends to make loose calls. But the odds are you still are in a dominant position. Having an Ace is a big advantage. Why? Your ace will have at least 52% to win against any random non-paired hand, irrespective of your second card.
Mixing up your betting pattern
As you are observing and trying to figure out the playing pattern of your opponent, in the same way, they are also trying to figure out your game too. It is important to mix up your gameplay to keep your opponent guessing. Because of the nature of the heads-up play, your opponent will find out that you are betting into them on each turn after they check the flop.
Continuing to play in the same pattern throughout the game will inevitably determine your strategy, which will enable them to change their game plan. So, mix up your game from pre-flop to the river, so that your opponents keep on guessing your game. Keep them confused and hope that they think wrong at the right moment, which will lead you to win.
You may also read: Top 10 ‘pre-flop hands’ in poker
Study your opponents
To have a successful heads-up strategy, it is essential to have the skill to read the tells of your opponents. You should quickly make it out of their playing pattern and adjust your gameplay accordingly. When they are playing weaker, you can take this to your advantage by ramping their aggression. On the other hand, when they are playing too aggressive, you need to identify the spots to pay them back when they are waiting for premium holdings.
These are the times when almost any two cards become playable, and when they get a stronger hand, you can quickly get out of their way. Also, be on the lookout for the flaws that you can take advantage of. For instance, if any of your opponents bet only the flop once they hit the board or when they have a pocket pair, they start placing bets the flop out of position.
You may also read about: Poker strategies for beginners
Advantage of the position
Use your position in the game to your advantage. If you are the last one to take action after the flop, i.e. when you have the small blind, you have the benefit of having the maximum amount of information about your opponents before they have to take any decision. This is because you can determine your opponent’s move before they decide to make any decision. So, use this position to your advantage by putting pressure on those who are taking action first with limited information. Make them even more confused than they already are.
In heads-up play, this can become a real mind game while considering your position and how you can exploit the information you are sending out. This can also be applied in reverse when you are the first one to act. It totally depends on you what information you want to convey to your opponents and what you want to show from your actions. Whether you want to convey to them that you have premium hands even when you don’t or if you want to hide the best hands that you have.
By keeping the heads up online poker strategy and tips mentioned above in mind will help you in becoming a good heads-up player. Figure out the tendencies of your opponent and manipulate them accordingly. In order to improve your winning significantly, then I would suggest altering your betting pattern so that your opponent has incorrect information on how to trick you.