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Nov 28, 2007

Heads-up Strategy

YOUR WINNING STRATEGY FOR HEADS-UP poker can be "boiled
down" to three simple steps:

1. Push The Action
2. Set The Stage
3. Trap Your Opponent

Let's take a look...

Step one is to PUSH THE ACTION. In heads-up poker, the
blinds are often substantial.

And the FASTEST way to build your stack and gain momentum is
to win the blinds as much as possible.

Be the player to push the action...

Consistently raise when you're the dealer. This is a
wonderful position because you get to act FIRST pre-flop but
last post-flop. You can represent a hand by raising... and
then get a read on your opponent after the flop.

The more you push the action, the more blinds you'll win.

Of course, this behavior will also keep your opponent OFF
BALANCE... while he tries to adjust to YOUR GAME.

As soon as he gets a hand, he'll start coming back over the
top of you. And that's when you back off.

Step two is to SET THE STAGE...

Now that you've been aggressive, it's time to set yourself
up for some BIG pots.

Heads-up poker is usually determined by one major hand...
maybe two. You want to SET YOURSELF UP for that hand.

In normal multi-player poker, those "big hands" usually
occur when two or more players have great cards-- like a
straight versus a flush, or trips versus two pair.

In HEADS-UP POKER, this doesn't happen nearly as much,
because the odds of someone catching a hand like a straight
or flush or whatever is much lower.

That's why the SET UP is so powerful.

Here's how to set yourself up for victory...

First of all, realize that what your opponent is trying to
do is "figure you out". He probably KNOWS that he needs to
take control and steal blinds in order to win the match.

After setting the tempo and stealing blinds from HIM, it's
time to give him a false sense of "hope" and "control". And
it's time to show your cards once or twice...

After stealing a pot, show your bluff... just casually. You
can say something like, "Jeeze, I'm bullying you here, you
didn't have 9-5 offsuit beat?"

Or maybe what you can do is "ACCIDENTALLY" show your cards
after winning a hand...

(This is sneaky.)

Toss your hole cards into the muck after winning a hand so
that they just "happen" to turn face up.

"Oops."

LOL.

This will surely get your opponent riled up.

Then what you do is PRETEND to fall into a consistent
betting pattern. Start checking the flop-- or betting very
small amounts consistently.

Every time your opponent bets, let him steal the pot. But
only let him steal it with BIG BETS... no "wuss" action
allowed.

In other words, when you don't have a hand, bet on the flop
the SAME EXACT AMOUNT a few times in a row. When your
opponent RAISES, muck it.

The goal is for your opponent to think, "Wow, I've finally
got this sucker figured out. He plays aggressively and bets
a lot, but folds when I crank up the pressure."

Once he's thinking that... it's time for the KILL.

Step three is to TRAP YOUR OPPONENT...

What you do is wait for a good hand-- or a hand you're
confident will be the winner.

Then play it EXACTLY LIKE YOU'VE BEEN PLAYING YOUR BAD
HANDS.

This is important. This principle is the "secret" that pros
use for all heads-up poker.

When you catch something really good, play it like it's bad.
Let your opponent come to you.

Bet small, check the flop, or do whatever it is that will
get your opponent to try to steal the pot.

Then go over the top of him.

Act is if you're TIRED of getting pushed around.

Of course, there may be no need to go over the top of him.
Often times in heads-up a single raise is already all-in...
and if that's the case, you've won the game.

If not, then you just need to get your opponent to go all-in
trying to bluff this pot from you. (Or maybe he has
something OK.)

Remember-- your opponent must think you have NOTHING. That
way he'll risk a lot of chips to win the pot... trying to
"bully" you.

Obviously, your strategy is to make him feel pot-committed
with the worst hand... that way his only way to win the hand
is to go all-in.

Any time I win a heads-up match because my opponent goes
all-in on a bluff when I've got a real hand, I know I've
played the match well.

For whatever reason, most players make too many loose all-in
bets heads-up... and that's exactly what you want to
capitalize on.

So remember...

1. Push The Action
2. Set The Stage
3. Trap Your Opponent

This step-by-step process and these techniques are BEST USED
when you go heads-up against someone with about the same
starting amount of chips as you...

And of course, every heads-up situation is different,
because every OPPONENT is different.

But the key is to know the OBJECTIVE in each stage of your
match... and the ways to ACHIEVE that goal for any given
opponent.