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The Last Bet

Understanding Heads-Up Poker Strategy

Bovada's offering more and more ways to play poker faster with our Zone Poker taking the gaming world by storm, but for many players, nothing will beat the tension and glory of heads-up poker play. Heads-up gamers are played with two opponents, each of which has either the small or big blind. As they play, the blinds rotate between the players and the advantage goes back-and-forth. It's all of the excitement of the final play of an online poker tournament, taking place continually.

Just like in full-handed games, the button in heads-up poker offers you the advantage of acting after your opponent, but there are multiple other adjustments that you'll need to make to your game if you want to succeed. Blinds, for example, are now going to wear down your bankroll faster. After all, you're no longer contributing your share to the pot every ten hands; it's happening literally with every hand. This means that you'll have to be more aggressive.

By "being aggressive," I don't just mean limping in a lot more. You need to be willing to apply extra pressure on the other player to increase the chances of forcing them out of hands. How aggressive should you be? In a heads-up game, you should be: openly raising or at least limping in whenever you're on the button; raising with any face card or pair and calling with everything else. Premium poker hands and medium pairs alike should be re-raised most of the time too.

Aggression in and of itself isn't enough though. You'll want to mix your play up to keep your opponent guessing. Instead of going hard all the time, I'd recommend limping in while holding a strong pair or raising with a weaker one. This depends on your opponent, of course, since sometimes you'll be playing against an absolute rock that won't budge. It's in cases like that where hammering constantly is about the only option you've got; re-raising while holding 77, for example.

It's likely that some other players are going to be following this same advice, which is why post-flop aggression is just as important as betting before the board gets involved. With heads-up poker, even marginal hands are often enough to win a hand and a top pair is worth pushing extremely hard. In fact, if you've got any hand that's better than top pair, you've got pure gold in heads-up play and depending on your opponent, you can either pump them for more money or go all-in for maximum rewards.

Heads-up poker is game where great poker players excel, as it's all about marginal play and keeping yourself aware of different situations. A great number of opponents approach heads-up play like they do any other online poker game and that gives the smart player (you) a distinct advantage.

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