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Heads Up Strategy for SNGs and MTTs

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About Playing Heads Up:

Heads up SNGs are extremely profitable for good players who have the ability to read opponents quickly.  Unfortunately many poker players avoid HU games because they’re intimidated by them and don’t like the risks, however I strongly recommend these because of how easy it is to make money, especially if you’re playing HU games against bad opponents.

Advanced Heads Up Poker Strategy:

Heads Up Strategy in Summary

The key to beating someone in heads up is to know their style.  The faster you learn and read your opponent, the quicker the game will be over. Narrow down yout opponent’s 3betting range, analyse how often they continuation bet the flop or double-barrel the river. At the end of the day every poker player has weaknesses and a specific playing style, and heads up matches are about exploiting this so that you’re playing with greater equity.  If you’re playing against a calling station, wait them out and make them pay you off when you hit a good hand.  If you’re playing a super loose-agressive opponent, utilise the check-raise and slow play your monsters.

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General Heads Up Strategy Tips

As a basic principle, heads up strategy is about being aggressive, and playing as many pots as possible.  The more pots you see, the greater your chance of hitting a monster and trapping your opponent.  The reason you have to be aggressive is that you only have one opponent to beat.  Statistically your opponent will miss the flop 60% of the time, which means if you open the betting on the pot everytime with a pot-sized bet, you’d be getting positive expected value from it.  Continaution betting is fundmental to heads up play – and most good players know a cbet of 1/2 the pot only needs to work 1/3 of the time to break even.  Your opponent will have to have something in order to call or re-raise you.

Starting Hands to Play

Unlike MTTs or short-handed games, heads up strategy requires you to play a very high range of hands.  I recommend playing every hand your dealt if the pot isn’t raised preflop.  A continuation bet even if you miss the flop should be enough to make your opponent fold – and if he calls then you know you’re behind.

Hands to Raise with Heads Up

Pocket pairs, premium hands and suited connectors should all be raised whether your on the dealer or big blind.  Along with this, you should also consider raising lesser hands such as J10 and J9 because 50% of the time because of the value and pot odds you receive at heads up.  For example, if you raise preflop 3xbb with J7 and the flop comes A104, another raise in position will require your opponent to fold unless he has the Ace.  This is why the value placed on aggressive strategy in heads up strategy is so important.

Always Raise on the Button

I recommend raising on the button as many times as possible.  This is because not only will your opponent fold to more pots, but you’ll also have position on the flop, turn and river.  This is perfect for continuation bets which will force your opponent to fold unless he’s hit something.  The downside to raising on the button in heads up is that you become predicatble; and any half-witted player will realize what you’re doing.  It won’t be long before you start getting re-raised or be on the end of 3bets to take you out of the hand.  My advice is to raise on the button at least 30% of the time minimum.

Don’t Become Predictable

Mix you game up and constantly change your tempo.  One of the most important things heads up is to read your opponent, predict his moves, and prevent him getting a good read on you also.  You can do this by playing mixing your play between loose agressive, tight agressive, playing small ball poker, and raising with minimal hands and re-raising rubbish on the flop. 

Ultimately you want to make yourself as unpredictable as possible so your opponent doesn’t have the confidence to bluff you off a pot.  Playing unpredicatbly also enables you to value shove and bluff more successfully, as well as being able to trap opponents with monster hands.

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