Being able to complete when playing heads up poker is an essential skill for any player. Heads up simple means poker in which two players play against each other - 1 against 1. If you're looking for rooms that offer this type of game, you won't have to look far. Every respected site has heads up tables. The difference between the good and the bad is more aligned to the level of traffic - some of the smaller sites, the traffic isn't great and often you can be waiting quite a while for an opponent to take a seat (especially at the higher stakes). We take into account quite a few other factors when comparing sites, like the quality of the room, availability of games and well as ease of competition (as the quality of players isn't the same across all sites).
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Playing poker heads up isn't that different in terms of the game of poker - he rules and betting structure is still the same. The key difference is the strategy you need to adopt given it's just you and your opponent. In a 10 seater ring game, you would be opening from early with a premium hand and playing selective hands from mid to late position. The key with 10 people is that you shouldn't be playing every hand, especially from an early position. Using selective aggression whilst exploiting position is a good strategy. Against one opponent this wouldn't be a great strategy for a few reasons. Firstly, there are less cards that can have you beat in your opponents hands so you will need to have a greater starting hand range than playing a full ring game. Secondly, you will either be posting the big or small blinds so folding too much is costing you more than in a full ring game!
In terms of the structure, both players will start with the same stack, much like in any other game. It's pretty much a winner takes all - there are no prizes for second place! You will find heightened aggression from players playing mono a mono. Most players will be raising most hands, regardless of what they have, so you don't want to be folding every hand waiting for a monster. By the time you get your hand, you will have squandered a good chunk of your stack. Not only that, if you are folding most hands and then suddenly show aggression, your opponent will put you on a hand and fold. You will need to mix it up a little and that will mean playing a much wider range of hands.
It's important to remember that your opponents don't have a hand every time they are raising. When playing against a particularly aggressive player, sometimes the best strategy is just calling and letting them keep betting away their stack. A large number of players have read a book or two and think they need to raise everything. To be honest this should be a welcome sight. Wait for a half decent hand, once you hit, call down their raises.
Here are some basic tips that are worth considering when moving to a 1 against 1 heads up scenario. Remember, you should be trying to work out what type of player they are. Starting testing the water early on. Are they folding a each raise (.i.e. they are quite selective), are they aggressive? Once you know what type of player they are you can play to their weakness. In general you should:
1) Expand your starting hand range. You will need to be playing a far wider selection of starting hands. You should be looking to be raising most hands when in the small blind
2) Don't let your opponent limp into pots - make sure they are paying to see a flop. Ties into point 1.
3) You will need to be bluffing more frequently. It is more easy against one player as there are less opponents to call your bluff, so to speak. Remember to try and treat a hand like a story board. Bluffs need to make sense so don't bluff in spots where a bet or raise doesn't make sense. These are the spots you are more likely to get called down.
4) Don't be scared of losing. This is an important one. Players who are playing with their last few pennies are scared of committing too many chips to a pot and are folding too much to have any chance of winning. Waiting for good hands isn't going to be enough. Play with money you can afford and not higher than your limits. Don't be scared to show your opponent you are capable of committing chips to the pot. Once they realize your a good player, they will not be as reckless and won't bully the pots as much..
5) Keep your opponents under pressure. Don't let your opponent away with just raising every hand. When you have a big hand, make sure you are making him pay to see cards with marginal holdings. You will soon find out what type of player he is. Does he like to chase cards - is he too proud to fold after he has raised? All this will help work out how best to play against him.
We are always very interested to hear any feedback you might have on any room we promote. After all, your views are equally important to us so that we reflect a combination of what we think and also what you feedback.