Heads Up Poker Tournament Play – Winning When It Matters Most

Who came in 2nd place in last year’s Super Bowl?

OK, not everyone keeps track of American football…

So…who came in 2nd place in last year’s World Cup?

Can’t remember – me either. I’m lucky to remember who won! For the most part, almost nobody remembers the player who comes in 2nd place in a poker tournament, either…

Who won the 2003 World Series of Poker? Chris Moneymaker
How about the 2005 WSOP? Greg Raymer
And in 2006? Joe Hachem

Who came in 2nd place in any of those tournaments? No idea agen judi poker

And you’d have to do some homework to figure that out!

In addition to the notoriety, the bulk of the tournament purse money goes into the pocket of the Champion – who comes in 1st place. The difference between 1st and 2nd place is much more than the money, too.

The Champion gets the press, gets talked about in all the blogs, the winner gets their picture on Poker Stars (at least the WSOP winner does!). The winner is who gets remembered. Nobody really cares much for who comes in 2nd place in any competitive game or sport…

Well, now it should be clear why understanding how to win at heads-up play is so important. So, let’s talk about how to do it, and how to win heads-up more consistently.

First, it helps to think about the odds. What are the odds of Player A winning a particular hand vs. Player B when playing heads-up? Answer: It’s dead even! Both of the players have the exact same odds – it’s a coin toss…until someone bets!

If you’re familiar with American football, there are two types of basic plays: running plays and passing plays… In a passing play, when the quarterback throws the ball, there are three possible outcomes:

1. Ball is “incomplete”, nobody catches it – LOSE

2. Ball is “complete”, receiver catches it – WIN

3. Ball is “intercepted”, defense takes over – LOSE

It’s similar in poker. When you are dealt a hand in poker (any hand), you have three outcomes:

1. Your hand remains “incomplete” and you fold – LOSE

2. Your hand is “beaten” in a showdown – LOSE

3. Your hand is the winning hand – WIN

4. Your hand could be beaten, until you bet/bluff – WIN (some %)

In all of these cases, you can only win chips IF YOU BET. The thing is, the odds of either of the two heads up player drawing a strong starting hand aren’t very good, so chances are excellent you both
have a loser hand at the outset.

When you are first to act and you BET, you force the other player to look at their hand and make a decision – to either call that bet with (likely) a lousy hand or just fold and save some chips.

So, in heads-up play, you should generally play much more aggressively than you would normally in regular play, realizing that both you and the other player are most likely to have crap hands.

You need to use betting as a means of controlling the action and winning as many of what would otherwise be “crap shoots” as you can.

By winning the crap shoots (where you both have crap hands), you come out on top, and take down perhaps 2/3 of the hands – the ones you can win with a great starting hand or actual hand, PLUS
the ones you win through a successful bet/bluff strategy! This often makes the difference between winning and losing heads-up.

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