10 Ways to Quickly Lose at Heads Up Poker
While the betting rules, order of hands, and game structure is the same in heads up
poker as it is at a full table there are many ways you can quickly lose in this form of the game.
This article looks at 10 such ways – and suggests remedies for each!
Position is vitally important in heads-up poker matches. Playing the majority
of your hands from out of position (the big-blind is first to act after the
flop) will leave you with a disadvantage that will quickly lead to losses. Good
heads-up poker players play positively from the dealer button. They will have
the advantage of seeing what their opponents do before acting themselves on the
flop, turn, and river betting rounds – and can use this information to get the
most from their good hands and lose the least with their bad.
Playing When Under-Bankrolled
Heads-up poker is a naturally high-variance game. While your skill advantage will show in your profits over time, the natural chance factors in the cards dealt mean that you need to be properly bankrolled to take advantage of this. Playing a single match for a large percentage of your bankroll is a sure fire way to quickly lose money at heads-up poker.
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Playing Too Tight
Many players who are used to full-ring poker games do not properly adjust
their starting hand requirements for heads-up poker matches. With only a single
opponent, the range of hands you should be playing is much wider. Hands which
you would discard in a ring game become raising hands in a heads-up poker match
– make sure you properly adjust.
Bluffing Too Much
There are many opportunities in heads-up poker to bluff and semi-bluff. An
aware opponent will adjust to this and reduce their calling requirements. Make
sure that your bluffs are balanced with value bets, that they are made mostly
from the dealer button position, and that you are not trying to push an opponent
off a hand with ‘air’ after they have shown some strength.
Going On Tilt
As lesser hands are required to win showdowns against a single opponent there
are more opportunities for bad-beats. Make sure that you do not become angry,
resigned or feel the need to ‘get even’ after this happens. Playing on tilt is a
sure way to lose in any form of poker – in heads-up poker the fast pace of the
game make this doubly dangerous. Take a break!
Playing Too Passively
Checking and calling bets have their place in a balanced poker strategy.
However constantly playing in a passive manner is a long-term losing strategy.
Your opponent will then decide when to build a pot, take free cards to make
draws and push you off of hands with timely bets. If you never bet then you are
not giving your opponent a chance to fold.
Not Adapting to Your Opponent
Winning a heads-up poker match is all about adapting to your opponent.
You need to adjust to their game in such a way as to take advantage of their
weaknesses and avoid their strengths. Going into a heads-up match with a
pre-conceived plan of how and when to play each hand will lead to the opposite
– your opponents will adapt to and exploit you.
Surfing the net, watching TV and chatting to friends on IM while playing your
heads-up poker match? This is a sure-fire way to quickly lose. Winning at
heads-up poker requires concentration and focus on your opponent’s game.
A subtle but important aspect of heads-up poker play. If you build big pots from out of position with vulnerable hands, while slow-playing monsters in such a way as to win only a small pot then you are destined to lose over time. Play big pots from position and size those bets to get the maximum information on your opponents hand for the minimum cost.
Not Playing your "A Game"
Poker is not a game to be played when you are tired, unwell, or drunk! Make sure that you are alert and able to play you’re ‘A-game’ whenever you join a table. Your wallet will benefit!