Tips For Winning Heads Up Poker

Heads-up poker, played between just two players, is the ultimate cat and mouse experience and the greatest test of your poker skills. Professionals regularly play heads-up cash games and like nothing better than outwitting their opponent. In sit-and-go (SNG) tournaments the final winner is determined in a heads-up showdown. New players often begin to lose momentum at this stage and end up just throwing the game away. But it doesn't have to be like this - the following heads-up poker tips will improve your chances of victory, ensuring you'll win hands down in your next heads-up session.

SNG Heads-Up Poker Tips

If you enjoy heads-up cash games you can always leave the table if you are winning, losing or getting tired. However, in the SNG scenario, depending on how many in the tournament, you may have had to grind away for hours before getting to the final table - never mind as far as the 2-player shootout. At this point you may be excited and tired, just waiting to get the game over with. But remember, the first- place prize pool is usually double that of the runner-up so it's worth it to stay super focused and avoid playing fast and loose in the hope that you'll get lucky. Watch how your opponent is playing, they may well feel the same as you do. If you detect this, or any other weakness, exploit it to the max.

Hand Strength Differs in Heads-Up

It's no secret that 2-7 are the worst hole cards to be dealt in poker as they are the lowest card combo that can't make a straight. But because there are fewer cards dealt in heads-up games the odds of winning with a straight, a flush or a better combination are reduced. Of course, these hands can be made but as percentages go high cards and pairs usually win the pot in heads-up poker, making 2-3 the worst opening hand. For this reason holding a single ace, or better still a small pair, will give you the edge over your opponent when playing heads-up cash games or in SNG showdowns.

Play with Controlled Aggression

To be a successful heads-up poker player you need to have mastered every trick in the poker handbook. This includes how to play aggressively and how to manage an opponent who is overly aggressive. Many of the hole cards are poor in two-man poker with neither player being too inspired to play. You can take advantage of this by betting big and picking up the small pots, all the while increasing your stack. But make sure to be selective in your aggression as you don't want your opponent to fold if you have a monster hand. If your opponent is playing hard and fast challenge him and see if he backs down.

The Small Stack Advantage

Oftentimes a player's control, patience and skill are needed most when their opponent becomes short stacked. The small stacked player will play aggressively in the hope of stealing the blinds or doubling up with a winning hand. The best heads-up poker tip in this situation is not to react by limping in or raising, as this may only increase the lower stack by more. Rather than wasting chips on the off chance, play tightly and wait until you get a decent hand which will give you a better opportunity to win all the chips and finally eliminate your opponent.