Heads-up is the climax to all your hard work in the poker game. When you get to a heads-up situation, it means that you have eliminated all the other players from the tournament except one, your opponent in the heads-up match.
If you’re a novice poker player or you have not played much poker, there is a very good chance that you will never have played a heads-up game yet. It takes a lot of practice and gradual improvement before you get to the stage where you are one of the best two in the tournament, hopefully the strategies in this article will prepare you for it when it happens.
The basic tactic for successful heads-up play is to be the aggressor. You need to be the one who is dominating the other player and making all the running in the betting, or you can be sure that your opponent will dominate you and you will find that you’ll never really know when you should be betting. You have to take charge of every situation in the game and keep your opponent “pinned down”.
Don’t be afraid to use the ultimate weapon in a heads-up game – the all-in bet. If you’re short stacked and trying to get back in the game you will very often get called with an all-in bet as your opponent will see the opportunity of finishing you off there and then. Of course you need to make sure your cards give you a high percentage chance of winning before you do go all-in.
On the other hand if you are winning and your opponent is short stacked, going all-in might tempt him to call your bet as he’ll see it as a chance to get right back into the game. Again you should only use the all-in if your hand gives you a much better than average chance of winning. Be very careful of bluffing in a heads-up for the same reason, you are quite likely to get called and if you don’t have a hand you could find yourself out of the game.
When you are in a heads-up scenario, all of the poker principals that you used to get you there change dramatically, simply because there are only two players involved. Remember, you can win a hand with ANY starting cards and when you have only one player to beat your odds of winning increase dramatically, even with hands that you might not even have considered playing in the earlier rounds of the tournament.