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Playing Poker Heads Up - Tips & Tricks - Learn Poker

When it is only you and one opponent left in the tournament, you are now "heads up" and it now becomes all about making the right plays to win. 

The only real mistake you can make during this stage is playing too tight and waiting for a Category 1 or Category 2 hand. Instead be prepared to push all in and call with a very wide range of hands. 

You can often move all in with any two cards heads-up, as long as either you or your opponent has a stack of about eight big blinds or smaller. However when both stacks are bigger than eight big blinds, pushing all in with poor hands becomes riskier.

The following charts show the kind of hands you should be playing, relative to your stack size and your opponent's action.

Pre-flop, with no raise from opponent

Effective stack size You're the button You're the big blind, he limps
0-8 BB Push with any two cards Push with any two cards
8-12 BB Push with Category 8 or better Push with Category 7 or better
12+ BB Raise 3 BB with Category 8 Raise 4 BB with Category 6
 12+ BB Call a RR with Category 5 Call a RR with Category 4
     

Pre-flop, after a button raise from opponent

Effective stack size Recommendation
0-2.5 BB Call with any two cards
2.5-4 BB Call all in or re-raise all in with Category 7
4-12 BB Call all in or re-raise All in with Category 6
12+ BB, opponent raises to 3BB or smaller Quadruple the raise with Category 5 or better
12+ BB, opponent raises to 3BB or smaller Call with Category 6-7
12+ BB, opponent raises to more than 3BB Push all in with Category 5 or better
   

Recap: Keys to final table play

  • Observe your opponents closely. You will have more time to do so than in earlier parts of the tournament.
  • Find "weak" players who are afraid to risk their chips. Put a lot of pressure on them.
  • Don't get bullied around by the big stacks. Play fewer hands against them and if you play, try to force decisions on them by moving all in a lot.
  • Play more and more hands when the table gets short-handed.
  • Be super loose and aggressive heads-up.
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