The Secret To Playing "Heads-Up" Poker



Apr 14, 2005
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Everyone has a general strategy (whether it's conscious or not) that they use at an eight-man table. Some players are tight, some loose, and some simply jump from one strategy to another and keep their opponents guessing.

Most players feel confident in their game until they play in their local tournament only to finish SECOND because heads-up is a completely different game. This seems to be where a lot of players find a flaw in their game.

So here is an example of a solid heads-up

You've got the button and are dealt a 5-6 of spades. The blinds in the tourney are $200-400 and you make it $800 to play.


Because you can't just raise with your big hands. You have to mix up your play and raise with a wide variety of hands. Just be smart about it and use your positioning to your advantage.Drew calls and the flop hits A, 9, 3, with
no spades. He is 1st to act after the flop and checks. OK, now there is no doubt that we have to fire another bet and represent the ace on
the board. We're sitting on $30,000 in chips and decide to make a bet that isn't going to hurt our stack too much. We throw out a $1000 bet and Drew mucks his hand immediately. We flip over our 5-6 for him to see.

You do this for a few reasons...

First, Drew could be the type of player that will play on tilt when he knows that he has been bluffed. Hopefully he is. Second, we will get calls with our REAL hands now that Drew knows that we are a bluffer.

Finally, were sending a message to Drew that this is OUR GAME and that we are going to control the action. Just make sure you don't hurt your stack
too much when you get caught on one of these bluffs. Even if you do get caught, don't be afraid of showing it. It will pay off later.A few hands go by and we're the big-blind and dealt pocket 7's. Drew limps-in and we throw out a $1000 bet that Drew quickly calls. You can sense that he may be a bit frustrated with your aggressive style of play. The flop hits A73 and we are 1st to act. Do we slow-play the hand and hope that Drew throws out a bet?

No, we actually want to make a bet that makes it LOOK as though we are trying to buy the pot, so we throw out a $3000 bet. We know that our bluff is still on Drew's mind. Plus, he called our pre-flop raise so there is a good chance that he is holding an ace in his hand. Hopefully he is.
The hand plays out and you rake a large pot by betting the entire time. Drew
called every bet because he felt like you were bullying him. Again, this was SET UP from the bluff that we showed a few hands earlier.Drew wins the next few pots and we're dealt a 9-10 of diamonds. We've got the button
again so you make a $1000 pre-flop raise.

Do we want Drew to call here?

Who cares, 9-10 of diamonds isn't a bad hand. You may catch a good flop or may steal another after the flop. Drew actually goes over the top for $5000
more. We think for a while with no intention of calling the raise. We just
want to make Drew sweat a bit. Finally we throw over our cards and say, "I can't call, I've just got suited connectors." Once again, this lets Drew know that we will raise with a VARIETY of hands.Now Drew is steaming. He was probably holding a monster like kings or aces and expected our aggressive play to call his raise. Nope, we are not aggressive.

We are aggressively SMART. We know when to muck a hand and when to
play a hand.The very next hand we're dealt pocket queens. Drew simply calls the small blind and the action is on us. We make a $3000 pre-flop raise that we are sure Drew will call. This is where our 9-10 and 5-6 moves pay
off. We are going to get a call out of Drew with a mediocre hand. He calls and the flop hits J,9,3. The hand plays out and we rake a very large pot.
A few hands later we look down to see a monster. Pocket aces. Drew calls the small blind and the action is on us. We pound our fist against the table to
check.This isn't a bad strategy in a heads-up game. Your chances of being ran-down is greatly reduced with just the 2 of you. Plus, we have been playing rather aggressively and want to show weakness here...The flop hits 9,2,K and Drew feels as though he has the upper-hand with his 9-10. He throws out a $1000 bet that we call. The turn is a 3, which doesn't put
anything scary on the board. There isn't really a draw out there. Drew is 1st to act again and throws out a $2000 bet. We simply call. We feel as though we have the best hand and are going to let Drew fire away. The river card is an ace, which gives us our trips. Drew fires a $5000 bet at us. We think
for a while and then announce that we are going to raise. "Im all in" as we push our entire stack into the middle. We feel as though Drew will call this because he has half of his chips invested already. Plus, it looks as though we are bullying again.The rest is history. Drew is so far off his game right now that like taking candy from a baby. THAT, my friend, is how you have to play
heads-up poker. Mix up your style of play and try to frustrate your opponent.
The best phrase for it is PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE.You will find that it will throw them off their game and it will benefit you.


Apr 17, 2005
Total posts
i like to play agressive!!! giving them no chance :p


Rising Star
Apr 21, 2005
Total posts
I especially like the tip about showing him the bluff. I like to show my cards more towards the end of tournaments, depending on how people are acting and my stack is, just to mix it up.


Apr 23, 2005
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That is some great information. That is the way I always try and play.