Poker Heads Up Strategy Strategie-Sektionen
Stay Aggressive. When playing. The 'Any Ace' Concept. You may have heard that you will want to raise with any ace in. Use Your Position to Your Advantage. Trust Your Reads. Change Gears or Prepare to Lose.
The 'Any Ace' Concept. You may have heard that you will want to raise with any ace in. Change Gears or Prepare to Lose. Loose-aggressive ist Heads-up ein sehr effektiver Spielstil. Du musst hier ganz einfach gutes Poker spielen und jede mögliche Schwäche ausnutzen, die du bei.
As you move to 6-handed, the blinds hit you more frequently - every 6 hands now - and you have to adjust your starting hand requirements to make up for it.
Playing a very tight style isn't enough anymore since you won't be getting paid off with those premium hands often enough to counter the blinds hitting you at an increased rate.
On top of that, if you are playing attentive players, they should soon catch on to the fact that you're playing premium hands only, and you'll have a harder time getting paid off.
You have to widen your pre-flop hand selection to include lesser hands to make up for getting hit by the blinds so often.
Now as you move to heads-up play with only two players at a table, you have to be playing many if not most of the hands dealt to you. You will be contributing at least a small blind's worth every hand, and to make up for that you have to play with loose starting hand requirements.
On top of all this, most tournament situations that you will be in are probably going to be low-M situations, essentially meaning you'll be playing with a small stack-size to blind ratio, which adds even more pressure.
You should not just be limping a lot more, because by raising with most of your hands, you will be putting extra pressure on your opponent and increasing the chances that you will win the blinds and antes.
In a typical hu sng tournament, you should be:. You also will have to mix your play up occasionally to keep your opponents guessing, and I'd suggest occasionally limping with a strong hand or raising with a weaker one.
Of course every hand is unique, and the rules I'm laying out for you don't apply to every situation. If you're raised by an absolute rock of a player, then you might reconsider re-raising with 77, for example.
The guidelines I give serve the purpose of giving you a good idea of how to play versus your average online player. Unless you're facing a naturally hyper-aggressive player which isn't uncommon , your opponent will probably be playing a little too tight, and you have to take advantage of that.
Since most of the time neither player will even pair the flop or really hit the board, post-flop aggression is also important.
Middle and bottom pairs are often enough to win a hand, and top pair is often enough to stack off with. Any hand better than top pair should be treated like gold, and you should try to get as much money in the middle with it as possible.
Pre-flop, the value of certain hands also changes. Suited connectors and small suited cards, ideal for multi-way, limped pots which give good drawing poker odds , have now lost a lot of their value.
The actual card values should have more of an impact on your decision rather than the fact that the cards are suited or not.
The value of pairs also increases. A tight player might as well be defined as a weak player when heads-up. I can't stress this enough: aggression is key in heads-up play.
Even a hand as weak as 32 off-suit should be limped in with if your opponent is consistently not raising when you do; if not for the sake of looser starting hand requirements, then for the sake of our next topic: pot odds.
Considering pot odds strictly, it is incorrect to fold your small blind pre-flop. Of course, poker isn't played strictly through pot odds, and this example holds true only if your opponent has not been consistently raising you when you limp from the small-blind.
As an example, let's consider this sit and go situation:. Those odds are good enough to call with any hand, even with a lowly 32 as I mentioned.
Even in a tournament with no antes, you'd still be getting which is plenty good enough to call; so based on the pot odds alone, it is never correct to fold pre-flop.
But poker is never that simple. If you've noticed that your opponent likes to steal, and you have seen him or her raise several times from the big-blind after you've limped from the small-blind, then you have to adjust your play.
You can no longer limp with any two cards, and should dump the lesser hands. You'll have to use your judgment as to the range of hands you can limp with based on how aggressive your opponent is being.
Here's a pot odds chart to keep in mind. This can be very helpful when playing after the flop to quickly figure your odds of hitting your hand.
Of course you need to consider your opponent's hand in every situation. The Poker Odds Calculator is a great tool for trying different combinations and figuring out how each affects your expected value in the hand.
Getting a read on your opponent is much more valuable heads-up since you'll be playing every hand with him. Pay close attention, and adjust your game accordingly.
This will help to eliminate recognizable patterns in your game. For example, say you've been raising constantly from the small-blind, and you can tell you put your opponent on tilt.
He's all but ready to shove what's remaining of his chips in the middle. You're on the small-blind again, and look down to find AA staring right back at you.
Here would be a perfect situation to raise it up just like you've done all along in the game, and hope he has a smaller pair or something like KJ and feels like taking a stand with it.
Position should also be a huge factor in your decisions. With position on a player, you have the advantage of seeing his move before you have to make yours.
Thus you will be making your decisions on every street with more information available to you than your opponent has available to him.
The reason is simple: you don't get a call every time you push. You are almost guaranteed to get a call when the person has a hand that seriously dominates your own and a fold when they have junk.
The numbers in this article are just one way to help make you comfortable playing at the aggression level needed to dominate heads-up poker.
The better a player you are, the more aggressive you can be without being reckless. The more aggressive you can be as a heads-up player, the more often you'll find yourself winning the match.
You have to play heads-up in the mind-set that any pair is good until proven otherwise. Having any pair puts you ahead of all high-card hands.
Any pair is good until proven otherwise. But don't interpret this to mean you should get married to your hands. Even if you have AA, it's typically between a and favorite to win.
You need to walk the thin line of being massively aggressive without getting married to your hands. This is why heads-up poker is so read-based.
At a full table, it's almost never a good idea to be calling large bets with nothing but an ace-high no pair, no draw.
The same play heads-up can be the correct play more often than not, depending on the other player and the reads you can get from them. What if the person you're playing against has taken control and is the aggressor?
You have two choices to deal with someone taking control of the match:. If you have the read that your opponent is playing a strictly aggro game you have to deduce if the player is willing to back down from a show of greater aggression or not.
If the other player has a strong read on you they might be willing to push on you anytime you come over the top, knowing you're only doing it to take a stand -- not because you have a big hand.
Pushing against them every time they show aggression can work in your favor sometimes but it removes all strategy from your game. You will get stacked every time they fall into a monster.
Being a calling station is always a bad thing at a full table. Playing heads-up it can be a very strong, advanced strategy to deal with an aggressor.
If you can put the other player on a hand and can figure out the odds of that hand versus yours, including letting them see fourth and fifth street, then you can defeat them by calling.
A true calling station is someone who is unable to get a read and who therefore won't fold in the face of certain defeat knowing only the two cards they hold.
If you can read the strength of your opponent's hand you can make them believe you're a calling station when in fact you're only calling with the best hand.
You make them believe it's fruitless for them to attempt a bluff. If they believe they can't bluff, it shifts the control to you and allows you more maneuverability.
The calling-station approach is only ever advisable if you can get a read that indicates you're ahead. If you truly are ahead, lots of people will argue that you should aim to get as much money in the pot as possible.
Winning heads-up is more about the mental game than the cards. You want to get the person into a frame of mind in which they think about you as a certain type of player.
You can then understand and manipulate their perception of you. Here are two reasons why calling can be a better option than raising in this situation:.
Instead of trying to figure out how your opponent perceives you, there's a much easier course of action: Figure out how you want them to play against you and feed them an image that will make them do exactly that.
Once the small stack gets back to even strength they will retain control of the match and have an easier time taking the lead than the original big stack.
This isn't true if the small stack got there by being outmatched and outplayed. If the player isn't able to hold their own in the match they'll need a few good hands to take the win.
In a full-ring game the aggressor controls the hand. Although it can happen, it's very rare for someone's aggression to completely control the entire table.
If you're the aggressor in the majority of all hands dealt, eventually the other player will give in and let you be the overall aggressor in the match.
You want them to lose confidence in their ability against you. Once they assume you're a nutbar, they will decide that they need to sit and wait for a premium monster to pick you off with.
When you have a player in this state of mind it makes it a very easy fold to any show of strength. If a player in this state of mind plays back at you, you can assume you're beat and lay down.
Stealing blinds becomes a huge part of winning at heads-up. For every one chip you steal as a blind your stack gains a two-chip lead over your opponent's.
Because the blinds in a cash game are so small compared to the stacks you can steal a large portion of your opponent's total stack before they realize what's going on.
Cracking your other opponent is the most rewarding thing you can do in a heads-up match. It's a spectacular feeling when you can mentally outplay your opponent so greatly that they believe they are actually outplaying you, even as they lose all their money.
The strategy outlined here isn't meant for you to take and try to follow step by step. The goal here was for you to realize how much thought actually goes on in a heads-up match.
It gives you a good idea of where to set the bar in terms of how in-depth your strategy should be. You should take this example and use it as a starting point to formulate your own heads-up game plans.
Using a strategy such as this against a superior player is not going to pan out. You must first correctly judge the skill and style of your opponent.
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By the same token, Nitsche says you can't take just any pair to showdown at any time, either. Players must find the right balance and get a read on their opponents and range of hands.
Studying is a big part of Nitsche's improvement and something he recommends for those hoping to play at a high level.
How does he work on his heads-up play? There are programs that teach how to play correct heads-up poker, and he makes use of those in his preparation.
You get better by studying off the tables. Figure out how to play your range against their range, which bet-sizing to use, and that's pretty much all I've been doing to get better heads-up.
For Nitsche, reviewing hands after playing either online or live is a big part of his poker routine. Playing and studying go hand-in-hand and he spends two to three hours a day just in study mode.
You don't really get much better just by playing. Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas.
His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter PokerTraditions. Heads-up poker introduces several unique elements to the game.
DominikNitsche explains how to adjust. I confirm that I am over the age of 18 years old and that I am happy to receive newsletters from PokerNews.
The same goes for showdown hands. The average winning hand in heads up poker will be much worse than the average winning hand at a 9-handed game, so adjust accordingly.
Even hands like middle pair or second worst pair are still decent hands and will probably win an uncontested pot, so bet them out.
A great way to pick up a bunch of pots in heads up poker is by firing out smallish bets into un raised pots.
When I'm playing heads up I like to bet a ton of flops as long as I get any piece; even a straight draw or bottom pair is worth taking a shot on the flop.
If my opponent calls I'll slow down, but most passive opponents will toss basically any hand but top pair or maybe second pair to a bet.
This is basically the opposite of the above tip. If you're playing an aggressive opponent, you'll have to make a stand to prevent constant semi-bluffs and preflop raises.
I like to re-raise on occasion preflop, and to call the majority of the flop bets to see if my opponent will bet again on the turn and river.
This relates to tip 3 because with lower winning hands you'll have to extract value from hands you normally wouldn't.
For example, when you have middle pair on the river you should bet because it is likely you're ahead and will get called by third pair or worse. Also, when you have an extremely strong hand I like to make small bets on the flop, turn, and a larger bet on the river to get maximum value out of my opponent by reeling them in.
As you pick up common plays and tendencies of your opponent, you need to make adjustments to counter their most used moves.
This is just the opposite of the last tip. Because of this you need to switch up your play to keep them guessing, especially if you are in a long heads up battle that spans over an hour.
To keep your opponents on their toes, make sure to alternate between betting flops and checking them when you hit, and throw in an occasional strange play like a big bluff or a check-raise.
Learn more about switching up your game. This is an important tip for heads up players. To calculate your hand's PI, double the value of your highest card, then add the value of your lowest card.
If you hand is suited, add another 2 points. If you have a pair, double the value of one of your cards, add the other one, then add another 22 points.
For example, with , you double the value of the jack 11 x 2 and add the 7, totaling With , you double the eight 8 x 2 , add the 7, then add 2 more for suitedness to total With you double one of the sixes 6 x 2 , add 6 more, then add 22 for being paired to total Once you've calculated the PI of your hand, use the chart below to look up the number of big blinds in the effective stack to determine if your hand has a PI high enough to play.
For example, when the effective stack is 7 big blinds, you must have a PI of 26 or higher to shove and a PI of 30 or higher to call.
This shorthand is game theoretically optimal for effective stack sizes 7 BBs or below. It starts to break down for bigger stacks, so I am including a second short chart with the percentage of hands you can shove or fold BBs unexploitably as recommended by Max Silver 's SnapShove app.
These are great defaults to use when you don't know what mistakes your opponent is likely to make. But when you know he is too tight or too loose, you can deviate from this baseline to exploit him even further.
If you know this to be true about your opponent, you should call him tighter than SAGE suggests. If you can determine the bottom of his shoving range, just call him slightly tighter than that.
By the same token, the range of hands SAGE suggests to shove is profitable against a player who calls correctly. But if your opponent calls too tight, then you can shove even wider than the SAGE ranges.
Feel free to throw in a few more hands, especially those that contain big cards, but don't go overboard.