Pre Flop Strategy for Heads Up Poker


When playing a heads up match it is important to vary how you bet pre flop.  If you throw the same bet every time you have a decent hand, your opponent will quickly catch on and know when you've got something.  The same goes for your opponent as well.  I know your thinking that no one can be dumb enough to make the exact same bet every time they have a good hand, but it happens more often than not especially when the game becomes fast paced.

 


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Know Your Odds

You may want to look at the pre flop odds for heads up poker piece that was written recently.  It talks about the number of starting hands there are in a heads up game as well as the odds of each hand winning pre-flop.  It is nice to know that in a heads up match pocket aces win 84.93% of the time.  This is pretty good considering technically your odds of being dealt pocket aces in a heads up match are 1 out of 220 hands.  However, you shouldn't go by what the odds are all the time.  A good rule of thumb is to study your opponent and think about why he is making the bets he is making.
 

Slow the Pace

It is easy to get carried away in a heads up game.  Sometime you and your opponent will fall into a groove of super fast play.  While this is rare, you should watch out for this because this is where you could make a costly mistake.  The faster the play the less time you have to take notes on your opponents decisions.  This is also an easy way to get into the habit of letting your opponents see the flop for free, and we all know that an important part of the pre flop heads up strategy is to not let your opponent see the flop for nothing.
 

Stay Aggressive

Heads up poker is unique because it allows for more aggressive plays than any other form of poker.  One important thing to remember is to stay aggressive pre flop and post flop.  If you just sit there checking and calling, chances are you will lose many hands that you could have easily won.  In heads up poker, the level of standards for playing hands is much lower than 6-10 player games.  You will see a lot of K-5 like hands being played as if they are A-K.  A good point to remember is to make your opponent think that you really have a good hand or at least a hand that is better than his.  Checking to the flop is not a good way to show this.
 

Conclusion

There really isn't much you can say about pre flop strategy.  It is something that is pretty subtle in the grand scheme of things.  Some players like to take the "small ball poker" approach and see as many flops as possible.  This is usually an advanced technique that can be stalled by making the flops expensive.  In the mean time you can decide whether you are a "small ball player" or a "home run player".