A good No Limit Hold’em player can win a lot of money if he is superior to his opponents. Most of all, this superiority comes into its own in the heads-up. Here he has only one opponent and can play in the best case against an inferior player. He does not have to share the opponent with other good players. But how do you play heads-up in the No Limit Hold’em cash game? Poker.de explains how to become a successful Heads-Up Cash Game Player.
Aggression in heads up
Aggression is always a key component in poker, especially in Texas Hold’em, and more importantly in heads-up. Patient or reserved players who are successful are usually referred to as tight-aggressive. In heads-up (HU) cash games, even successful tight-aggressive players have to adapt and play a loose-aggressive style.
More about these strategies and ways of playing can be found in our Poker Strategy Guide.
Selecting starting hands
Simply, you can play all the hands in heads up. Many players coming from the ring games have problems with this concept. Only why? From a basic heads-up strategy point of view, an aggressive player will win more hands than a player with only good starting hands. An illustrative example: A player buys himself at a full ring table and in a heads-up game with 100 big blinds each. With the Full Ring Cash Game it is normal to fold several hands one after the other, you only pay 1.5 big blinds in ten hands. With the same number of hands in the heads-up game, you have to pay 7.5 big blinds.
So while you can wait a long time for good starting hands in the Full Ring Game, heads-up will need to be able to generate money without a hand – aggression beats Made Hands.
The only problem is that the opponents also understand this concept. Otherwise, you could simply raise and adjust each time your opponent wakes up with one hand and plays it back. In the end, you would blind him. Against weak players, this should be the basic strategy in your game.
But as better players play back with weaker hands, aggression becomes even more important. You have to raise, reraise and check-raise in some spots, as well as build up pressure with the knowledge that the opponent will often also not have a made-up hand. This makes it a fun cat-and-mouse game and is why many players hold heads up Texas Hold’em for poker in its purest form. Who gives in first? It should not be too often yourself.
You can play two random cards quickly, but you should also find out what a good hand is for a heads-up strategy. 8-3 offsuit in a 10-handed game is a terrible starting hand, but in heads-up it is much better than 4-3 offsuit (the other way round in the 10-handed game). High Card wins the pot in the heads-up very often, as only two hands compete against each other. One can also remember this for the game in the blinds in a 10-handed game, when up to one is fitted. Then you also effectively play heads-up. In heads-up, ace-rag (an ace and a low card in a different suit) becomes a very strong hand, just like two face cards, such as a face card. King dame).
If a player who is not usually aggressive plays back heads-up, you should make his hand range tighter in this situation. Therefore, you do not want to get into a raise-preflop, in which the opponent will not fold due to the invested money and his pot odds and you yourself are always underdog. For example, you should flop suited connectors with undercards such as 4-5 in the heart and thereby possibly defeat an overpair, from which the opponent can not separate after the flop. So you filter his aggression and decides now and then to place a call instead of a raise.
Hand selection is not the only way to control your own aggression. You should also pay attention to the game flow. If you push your opponent around all the time and know that he’s only waiting for situations where he can trap you, you should slow down your game and also fold promising cards before you fall into this trap with your eyes open. Maybe you’ve seen him play modestly so far and know how to play a monster hand. But maybe he’ll limp in this one situation, even though he’s always raised otherwise. Maybe he’ll call preflop and post-flop where he would otherwise have just passed. If the board structure is dry, you should be ready to pass many of your hands when your opponent is aggression on the turn or river. Or you get frustrated by checking both streets. If you hold the Nuts against an otherwise tight player who takes the initiative this time, it’s a proven way to wait until he puts the entire stack in the middle, as he wants to play his Made Hands as well. So you can easily collect the opponent’s entire stack.
If heads-up cash game opponents play more aggressively than you do, you should definitely consider your strategy. If he is much more aggressive, you probably only waste money unnecessarily if you do not just fit in the beginning. One should not find oneself in the situation in which one believes that the opponent has won the cat-and-mouse game and one can only hope for a run of good cards. Then you should rather change the table and thus the opponent.
If you get heads-up to a point where an all-in is unable to exert pressure due to stack size, you should either refill or leave the table. In a tournament, the strategy here should be to regain control with steals and make the game balanced again. Even aggressive players could make the mistake of keeping their chip advantage, waiting too long for a good spot and paving the way back into the game.
If you no longer have significantly fewer chips than the opponent, you should stop the reraising and call easier. So you show the opponent that you can not bluff you so easily with a bet from the hand.
Here’s a summary of the most important points about Heads-Up Cash Game. Play in heads-up situations with a completely different range than you would at a full ring table. Play more aggressively and value the high card. In this form of play she is much more crucial to the game. Always try to be the aggressor at the table against weaker and tough opponents. Be careful when tight players themselves take the initiative.
If you can not cope with your opponent’s style of play, you’d better change the table than risking your stack with weird moves.