How to Play Heads Up Poker


A large percentage of professional poker players will say that how well you are able to play heads-up is the best indication of your real poker skill. Some pros even choose to play heads-up poker almost exclusively, while a number of the world’s top cash players have a long-standing challenge in which they claim to play anyone heads up, for any amount at any time of day or night! Heads up poker offers players the opportunity to pair off and compete with each other head to head, however, it’s important to note that achieving success at heads up poker does require an advanced level of knowledge and prowess. Thankfully, this guide aims to make head up poker more accessible than ever, explaining all of the necessary ins and outs so that you can better understand this skilful game in order to have the best chance of coming out on top! So, if you want to know how to play heads up poker, then simply read on to find out more. 

What is Heads Up poker?

Heads up poker refer to a hand that has all but two players. This occurs most commonly when every player besides two have folded in a particular hand so continue to play against each other, but it’s also true that dedicated heads up tables with only two seats exist for you to kick off a game without any need for a fight between other players. It’s unsurprising to find out that a lot of people would consider heads up poker to be the purest form of poker that you can play in the modern-day, as just two people go head to head with everything to win (or lose). Heads up poker is a game that must be played between two players and two players only – it can be any type of poker game in any kind of format that you and your opponent choose, but it has to be exclusively between two players and no more if you want to play heads up. 

How do you play Heads Up poker? 

There are a number of different ways that you can explore to strike up a game of heads up poker but the most common scenario is likely to be the ending of a group tournament (or a sit-and-go) in which only two players are left fighting for the title. Heads up poker is a vital aspect of any kind of tournament poker, as it is the method that is used to actually determine who is the winner at the end of a very long gambling session. You can also expect to find dedicated heads up tournaments where players are set against one another until there is a final winner that trumps every other player. It’s not that common to find heads up poker in cash-based games when compared to say 6max or full ring, but it is still a popular game type that is played by many around the globe. Two players can start a cash game of heads up poker in the hopes that other players might see their game and join in. A positive of cash games, when compared against tournaments, is the fact that if you do end up losing your stack, you can simply buy back in and continue playing to once again be in with a chance of earning back every penny you put in. 

What are some Heads Up poker strategies? 

The very nature of heads up poker makes strategic play the name of the game, as it removes a large portion of the luck factor that’s generally involved in most other forms of poker. This in turn can help to add a new element into the game, as you can pursue different strategies to help achieve your goal. Due to the fact that most matches will continue right up until the point that one player is totally broke without any cash left to gamble, you are in a sense putting your entire bankroll on the line when you play heads up poker, just to say you’re the better player between you and your opponent, so you need to implement some strategies if you want to come to finish the game with more than a penny to your name! 

Opting for an aggression based strategy can be an effective way to play heads up poker. Of course, this is essential in any form of gambling, but with heads up poker, it’s definitely critical. Every hand is totally blind, and there’s too much money at stake not to have confidence in the moves that you make. Besides saving yourself from being blinded out during gameplay, there are a number of other strategic advantages that you can expect to benefit from by playing an aggressive heads up session. To put things bluntly, if you were to go up against a poker player of equal skill, then the more aggressive out of the two of you will more than likely be the one to win more sessions overall. If the person you’re playing against has decided to take control and has become the aggressor, then you have two choices to deal with the scenario in the most productive manner; you can either become more aggressive yourself to ‘out-aggro’ them or simply become a calling station (a calling station is someone who is unable to get a read and will not fold in the face of certain defeat despite knowing nothing more than the two cards they are holding on to). If you strongly believe that your opponent has been trying to play an aggressive game, then you need to decide whether the player will be willing to actually back down during your show of increased aggression, or simply continue in the same direction. Pushing back against them each time they showcase any kind of aggression can work in your favour, but it can also remove quite a lot of the strategy from your heads up game. 

Learning how to play heads up poker has never been so simple! 

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