When on your way to playing heads up poker, first come the risky all-ins that test the strength of your heart. Then come the breaks that you will catch if you are lucky. Eventually, you come to that final table and the chance to win big. You may think you have a solid understanding of your opponent by the time you get to this table, but their heads up poker play may be quite different from their play in previous rounds. It is common for pros to switch up the way they play to throw you off at this final stage, but there are five things you can do to perfect your heads up poker play no matter what your opponent throws at you.
1. Work the Ace in the Hole
When you are dealt an ace in the hole, chances are high that you will have an advantage pre-flop. This is a good time to raise your opponent because they will often fear a pocket pair or ace and fold. Even if they do not fold, they are likely to be making a loose call that will still leave you in a winning position. Not all players will fold in this situation, but their reaction to your raise or re-raise will reveal something about their heads up poker strategy.
2. Learn to Settle
The great hand you may wait on during a regular Texas Hold'em game may not come around easily in a heads up poker game. You will have to lower your standards and take on riskier hands if you want to come out the winner. For instance, that J-6 offsuit may not seem like much, but it is a decent hand you may want to gamble on with heads up poker. Remember, your opponent will not wait around for a golden hand either.
3. Look for Obvious Patterns
Many Texas Hold'Em players become obvious when they start betting in a game of heads up poker. If you can intentionally call a hand that you know your opponent can beat, you can pick up on their betting patterns. Some players will be more obvious than others, but if you can see the pattern you can increase your chances of winning in the end. An extremely obvious opponent may as well throw down their cards and let you win.
4. Do Not Show Obvious Patterns
Now that you know to look for those obvious betting patterns used by your opponent, you cannot be obvious yourself. You may not get the best cards, but you can always vary your play so your opponent cannot guess what you may do next. For instance, you might want to raise on a nine when you are four-suited just to ensure your opponent does not see an obvious pattern in your heads up poker play.
You only need your opponent to make one mistake in order to overtake them and win at heads up poker. Since many players are not experienced at heads up Texas Hold'Em poker, you can sometimes rope an opponent into making a bad call just by confusing them about your own betting patterns.
5. Ditch the All-In
It may be tempting to go all-in repeatedly, but that is generally a bad move in heads up poker. You put yourself at the mercy of good fortune when you do this, and you may not always be as lucky as you hope. Plus, an experienced player will recognize what you are doing and peg you for an amateur. Once they see the opportunity, they will annihilate you with ease. You can go all-in at times, but make sure that you mix it up with other moves so you are not so easily nailed.
Hopefully these tips will help you excel at your next heads up poker play.