Heads Up Poker

Head Up - Head On - Head to Head

by Jesse Knight


Heads Up Poker
Heads Up - A pot or game which is played by only two players.

A full poker ring game is generally either nine or ten handed. If fewer players than this are sitting at the table, or if the table has open seating, the game is referred to a being “shorthanded.” If only two players are seated, the game is referred to as being “heads up” or sometimes “head up” (HU).As a game becomes more shorthanded, strategy and tactics for correct play also change. This is especially true in heads up play. Heads up play has its own dynamic that makes it different than any other type of poker.

In a multiplayer game, you have to consider what each of your opponent’s likely holds and which actions each of them are likely to take. Based on this evaluation of everyone else in the game, you decide which of your available actions is best. Because you have to consider everyone else’s actions, you often still have to be cautious, even when you make a good read. For example, if you read your opponent for a bluff, you cannot raise him with considering first the possibility that someone else is slowplaying or that another player who acts after you may have a powerhouse and reraise. So your actions are somewhat tempered by the risk that the other players pose.

When you are playing heads up poker you do not have this concern. You only have to make good reads and go with them. You are no longer one person in a sea of enemies, you are in hand to hand to hand combat, mano a mano. This sort of raw primal competition really appeals to certain types of players, especially Alpha males and those with sizeable egos. Sometimes these types of players will even settle personal disputes with a modern day duel, a heads up poker match.

Heads up play is also appealing to players who are concerned about collusion. Although collusion is rarely a problem in most poker rooms, many players are not even comfortable with this small risk. Since you are playing against only one other player when you play heads up, collusion among multiple players is not possible. In this way, heads up play completely eliminates the possibility of collusion.

Because heads-up play is fundamentally different from a multi-player game, it requires a different strategic approach. You are going to have to play more hands than you would in a full ring game, and you will need to play them more aggressively. You will have to make good reads and bluff frequently. Playing heads up requires a major adjustment to your game, and you may need considerable practice and experience if you are going to make this adjustment effectively. As you can see, playing good heads up poker requires a lot of skill, and those players who have it are substantial favorites over those who are not. Some players even prefer to play in heads up games, because they feel that this is where their edge is the biggest.

Usage: We Played Heads Up, Head Up, Head On, Head to Head, Got It Heads Up, Heads Up Poker

Previous Poker Term: Gutshot Straight
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