Heads Up No Limit Holdem

Heads-up poker is a one-on-one game between two players and is widely considered to be the greatest test of a player’s skill. Almost all of the famous high stakes players are heads-up specialists. The heads up game is identifying and adapting to your opponent’s tendencies quicker than he can adapt to yours and figuring out how to exploit these tendencies.

Differences between Heads up and 6-max/Full Ring Poker

In heads up poker, there’s nowhere to hide from your opponent. If there’s a tough players at your shorthanded or full ring table you don’t necessarily need to get involved with them all that often, and can concentrate on playing pots with the bad players at the table, but in heads up you’re playing every single pot against the same player and so you have no option to but to take him on and figure out his game as quickly as possible.

The other main difference from games with multiple players is that hand ranges are much wider in heads up. It wouldn’t be unusual for a player to see a player raising the button with 90% of hands in a heads-up match and in fact this is often the correct strategy until your opponent adjusts. Consequently, the player in the big blind needs to be calling or re-raising very often in order to stop the button making an automatic profit by raising any two cards.

This has a knock-on effect on later streets, making post-flop hand ranges very wide and hand strengths very weak. It’s not unusual to see weak one pair hands or even Ace-high win the pot at showdown, even after there has been some betting action on the later streets. Before we look at the advantages of playing heads up poker, have a look at our recommended sites. Remember, we want to make easy money from fish, not hard money from regular players.

Best Heads Up Poker Sites when Playing From United States

Rank Site Download Mac Linux Bonus Visit Site
1 BetOnline Poker 25% Bonus www.BetOnline.comRead Review
2 AmericasCardroom $1000 www.AmericasCardroom.euRead Review

Advantages of Playing Headsup Poker

One of the best things about playing heads up is that if you happen to get into a game with a weak player, you have him all to yourself and don’t have between 4 and 8 other players vying to take his money at the same time. This is what makes heads up one of the most profitable forms of poker around today. If you game select well and aim to only play against weak players, then you’ll have a very high winrate.

A secondary advantage of playing heads up if that you’ll find it develops your hand reading skills very quickly. Because you’re seeing so many flop and ranges are so wide, you’ll get good at narrowing down ranges and hand reading much quicker if you play some heads up than you would for the same time spent playing 6-max or full ring.

What is Bumhunting?

As we mentioned, one of the best things about playing headsup is that you can have weak opponents all to yourself, but a lot of regular players take this requirement to the extreme and will refuse to play anyone whose screen name they recognise or whom they feel they don’t have an edge against. They will often sit out of the game after a few hands if they get an inkling that their opponent is in any way a good player.

This has the result of clogging up the lobby of many poker sites with regulars sitting at every table waiting for fish to join with no games running. This is very bad for the heads-up poker landscape and poor players can often feel intimidated and even demeaned when they feel they are being bumhunted, which takes a lot of the recreational money out of the poker economy when they decide not to return. Sites like www.pokertableratings.com have made this problem much worse as it allows players to check instantly whether their opponent is a winning player or not.

Players to Avoid at Heads up Poker Sites – Spotting the Sharks

While bumhunting is bad for the poker economy in general, none of us want to spend too much time playing against players that have a huge edge on us. As we said, using PokerTableRatings is one way to check if a player is a big winner or not. Another way is to buy hand histories at a site like HandHQ and load them into your poker tracking software. If a player sits in with you and he has very aggressive statistics, chances are he’s going to be difficult to play against.

Even if you don’t have any hands on a player and you’re playing on a site that isn’t tracked externally, you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly if a player is a good aggressive regular, just from his pre-flop play. If he is raising his button almost every single hand and doing a significant amount of 3-betting from the big blind, chances are he’ll be a tough opponent. You’ll be able to solidify your read on him once you go to showdown a few times and go back and analyze the lines he took in various pots based on his hand strength.

While it can be good for your game to play against tough players every now and then, your overall goal is to make money and you should sit-out if you don’t think you have an edge on them.