Heads-up Poker Mastery
How to play heads up poker like a pro
When playing one vs one in poker, you can be sure about one thing, and that is action.
Heads up (HU) poker is considered the King’s discipline of no limit Texas Holdem, and that for a reason.
It is the most challenging, action-packed and honoring game format poker has to offer.
Heads up poker is comparable to boxing, if you beat your opponents consistently, you become the champ, gain glory and most people would never want to involve themselfes fighting with you.
But, if you are a noob and play against an experienced heads up pro, you will feel like a punch-bag being boxed into north, east, west and south given his superior experience and agility.
If you want to play like a pro, and beat your opponent into all directons, continue reading this page.
The cash in HUs is made post flop, and playing well post-flop can be super complex as you need to adjust your strategy on your opponent’s unique tendencies.
One type of strategy, or style of playing poker, might work well against one kind of opponent, but you will get difficulties against a different kind of player because your strategy became ineffective .
And precisely this is what is the tricky part to master in heads-up poker.
Playing heads up is like psychological warfare where you try to categorise your opponent’s play style and develop a suitable strategy that is effective against exactly this player type.
My poker coach (Jossel2008) who won millions in all sorts of poker games (MTTs, HU, 6Max and 9Max SNG in various speeds) has taught me how to play heads-up poker with a game theoretical optimal (GTO) approach, and hence I think I’m qualified to pass on some of that strategy he has disclosed (for $500/h) to the next generation of poker players.
Jossel2008 was battling with giants like Skaiiiwalkur, Serkules and co at the $1.000 HU hyper turbos on Pokerstars and performed with a positive win rate against all of them, excluding Skier_5 who used a dream machine (GTO Live Solver that helped him play PERFECT pre-flop).
Winning heads up poker strategy
Whether you play heads up in sit and gos or cash games, this strategy guide will help you in each as we are going to cover the details of both game dynamics in a detailed manner.
First, we are going further into the matter on how to play deep stack heads up, which is more beneficial for cash games, and then we cover short stack heads up strategy which is more useful for the HU SNG player.
How to Play with 50-75bb
Poker starts pre-flop (suuuurprise), and it’s essential to get things right, right from the start.
So, in case you haven’t been familiar with optimal small blind ranges in heads-up poker, don’t worry, soon you will.
Click on the image to see which sizes you should use when open-raising and with which hands to limp (and to fold).
So, in the image below you see a 100% range, of which each combination is marked with a different colour. These different colours are used to signalise which play is optimal for the given hand.
I used Piosolver to create the ranges you can see in the image above you.
Piosolver is a GTO Solver which helps you finding optimial pre-flop ranges and betting frequencies for poker, and i strongly advice every serious poker player to make use of it.
As you can see, you should play 90% of your hands in the small blind with a mixed strategy.
You limp some hands (22%), fold your weakest hands (10%) and open raise to 2bb 58% of your hands and mix in some 3bb open raises with a tiny range of 10%.
Let’s not overcomplicate it, the image basically suggest to open raise mainly, and partly limp mostly very weak hands like T2o, 94o and such.
And, as you also will be in the big blind, i will show you a GTO range for that position too.
So, now you should know how to play a heads up pre-flop with a stacksize of 40bb and more.
But how do we play post flop in a heads up with super wide ranges?
Let me give you some rules, which you need to stick by if you want success in heads ups.
1. Play super wide pre-flop (Follow charts)
2. Don’t c bet any 2, or even near 100%
3. Given the wide ranges you should value bet much lighter than in regular games
4. Play dynamic and adjust to your opponents tendencies
5. Stop playing when your opponent annoys you and analyse why he is annoying
Well, obviously a couple of rules wont make you a winner, and that’s why I decided to record a video of me playing some heads ups on Pokerstars where im going into detail on how to play post flop. Check it out!
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