Poker Heads up Play - The Real Poker Challenge
Heads up play is becoming very popular in online poker. To master this play you need to know what starting hands to keep and how aggressive to play.
Starting Hands to Keep
Many beginner players are surprised to learn that the start up hand in a heads up poker game does not have to be as strong as in other games. If you get a Jack and an 8, J-8, you are actually having a pretty good chance of winning against the other hands. You should play hands that would be given failures in regular ring play and chances are that you could emerge the winner with such oddities as a Q-4 or K-2.
You can comfortably keep many combinations that you would never dream of in the bigger games and you also have hands that are given keepers in head up poker games. If you have very high cards like an Ace, combinations of the King and Queen or a pair you should stay in the game with confidence. On the other hand you should fold it if you end up with the small suited cards and connectors. These will most likely leave you the loser of the game so there is no point in taking a chance on them.
To Raise or Call
Since you can play pretty low hands with confidence you can also play pretty aggressive without risking loosing a lot. It is common to see aggressive play in heads up poker games and poker pros do tend to advice towards raising more than calling in these games. When you are playing in a small pot game you should put the pressure on your opponent. Make him feel that you have a great hand and let him fold it. Keep your eyes on how much of the chips that are already in the game. Some basic logic will let you know when your opponent will be willing to risk his chips and raise. Learn to read this and you will see a lot of improvement in your heads up poker play.
There are times when you need to save your chips for later stages of the game. It is only with experience that you will know exactly when you should be more daring with your bets and when it is time to act more conservatively. If you play heads up and you are short stacked you need to find the spot to go in with all of your chips to push a fold out of your opponent. In pre-flop play you can do so with any of the really good hands. You should consider pushing with hands that include a King or Queen. After the flop you could consider pushing with pairs, even the low ones.
Whether you are in a short stacked game or not it is a good idea to learn how to use poker odds. You can’t expect to recognize every situation. Learning when the odds are in your favour will help you make the right decisions also in the heads up poker game. Even very experienced players make sure to support their moves by logic and statistics as constant reminders of the true value of their poker hands.