Poker Heads Up Cash Game Strategy

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Becoming a successful player in No Limit Hold'em cash games requires skill and strategy, especially when it comes to playing heads-up. The ability to outsmart and outplay your opponent is key to winning substantial amounts of money. In a heads-up situation, where you only have one opponent, you have the best opportunity to exploit the weaknesses of a weaker player. Unlike in games with multiple players, you don't have to split the pot with other skilled opponents. If you're wondering how to excel in heads-up No Limit Hold'em cash games, provides valuable insights and guidance on becoming a victorious player in this format.

Aggression im Heads-Up

Being aggressive is an integral part of the game of poker, especially in Texas Hold'em, and even more so in a heads-up match. Players who are patient or conservative and still manage to succeed are typically referred to as tight-aggressive. However, in heads-up cash games, even successful tight-aggressive players must adapt and adopt a loose-aggressive style. In this format, it becomes crucial to assert oneself and play more aggressively to seize opportunities and maintain an edge over opponents.

For more information on these strategies and playing styles, refer to our comprehensive Poker Strategy Guide.

Select starting hands

In simple terms, playing any hand is possible in Heads Up. Many players transitioning from ring games struggle with this concept. But why is that? From a fundamental Heads-Up strategy standpoint, an aggressive player will win more hands than someone who only plays premium starting hands. Let's illustrate this with a numerical example: A player buys in with 100 Big Blinds at both a Full Ring table and a Heads-Up game. In a Full Ring cash game, it is normal to fold multiple hands in a row, only paying 1.5 Big Blinds in ten hands. However, in the same number of hands in a Heads-Up game, one would already have to pay 7.5 Big Blinds.

In the realm of the Full Ring Game, one can patiently await favorable starting hands, whereas in the Heads-Up game, one must possess the skill to generate profit even without a strong hand - aggression triumphs over solid hands.

The sole predicament lies in the opponents' comprehension of this notion. Otherwise, one could simply raise and fold each time the opponent wakes up with a hand and retaliates. Ultimately, they would be blinded. Against feeble players, this should constitute the fundamental strategy in your gameplay.

As aggression becomes even more crucial, skilled players will retaliate with weaker hands. It is imperative to raise, re-raise, and strategically check-raise in certain situations to apply pressure, fully aware that opponents often lack made hands. This creates an enjoyable game of cat and mouse, and is the reason why many consider Heads-Up Texas Hold'em to be the purest form of poker. The question remains, who will concede first? One should strive to avoid being the one to yield too frequently.

Hand rankings

Playing two random cards quickly can be done, but it's also important to understand what constitutes a good hand for a heads-up strategy. In a 10-handed game, 8-3 offsuit is a terrible starting hand, but in heads-up, it's much better than 4-3 offsuit (the opposite is true in a 10-handed game). In heads-up, high card often wins the pot since only two hands are competing against each other. This concept can also be applied to playing in the blinds in a 10-handed game when everyone folds. Essentially, you're effectively playing heads-up. In heads-up, Ace-Rag (an ace and a low card of another suit) becomes a very strong hand, just like having two face cards, such as King-Queen.

If a player who typically plays non-aggressively suddenly starts to counterattack in a heads-up situation, it is advisable to tighten their hand range in this scenario. Consequently, one would not want to engage in a preflop raise war where the opponent, due to the money invested and their pot odds, will not fold, making oneself the perpetual underdog. Therefore, it would be wise, for example, to cautiously take suited connectors with undercards like 4-5 in hearts to the flop, potentially defeating an overpair that the opponent cannot let go of after the flop. Thus, one should filter their aggression and occasionally opt for a call instead of placing a raise.

Game Flow

Controlling one's aggression is not solely dependent on hand selection. It is equally important to consider the game flow. If you find yourself constantly pushing your opponent around, knowing that they are waiting for an opportunity to trap you, it might be wise to slow down your game and fold promising cards before blindly falling into their trap. Perhaps you have observed them play cautiously before and are familiar with how they approach a strong hand. However, in this particular situation, they might choose to limp, even though they typically raise. They might call preflop and postflop when they would usually fold. If the board texture is dry and your opponent exhibits aggression on the turn or river, be prepared to fold many of your hands. Alternatively, you can frustrate them by checking on both streets. When facing a typically tight player who takes the initiative this time, and you happen to hold the nuts, a proven strategy is to wait until they shove their entire stack in, as they will want to play their made hands as well. This way, you can easily collect their entire stack.

If the opponent in a heads-up cash game plays more aggressively than oneself, it is essential to reconsider one's strategy. If they are significantly more aggressive, it is likely a waste of money to not simply fold at the beginning. One must not find themselves in a situation where they believe the opponent has won the cat-and-mouse game, leaving them only hoping for a lucky streak of cards. In that case, it is preferable to change tables and thus, opponents.

If you reach a point in a heads-up game where going all-in doesn't exert any pressure due to stack sizes, you should either top up or leave the table. In a tournament, the strategy here should be to regain control by making steals and restoring balance to the game. Even aggressive players might make the mistake of wanting to hold onto their chip advantage, waiting too long for a good spot, and thus paving the way back into the game.

If you have a similar number of chips as your opponent, it is advisable to halt the re-raise and opt for a more casual call. This way, you demonstrate to your adversary that they cannot easily bluff you out of the hand with a bet.


Here are the key points regarding Heads-Up Cash Game. Engage in Heads-Up situations with a completely different range than you would at a Full Ring table. Adopt a more aggressive approach and prioritize the High Card, as it holds greater significance in this form of play. Aim to be the aggressor at the table when facing weaker and tight opponents. Conversely, exercise caution when tight players take the initiative. To summarize, play strategically and adapt to the unique dynamics of Heads-Up Cash Game for a successful outcome.

If you find it difficult to adapt to your opponent's playing style, it is wiser to switch tables rather than jeopardize your stack by making peculiar moves.