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What is heads-up poker and how to play it: a beginner’s guide

What is heads-up poker and how to play it: a beginner’s guide

Learn what heads-up poker is and how to play this fast-paced, aggressive form of the game with our guide. Then check out the best poker sign-up offers to play it with.

Heads-up poker is often mentioned in conjunction with popular types of the game such as Texas Holdem or Omaha. Unlike those variants it isn’t actually a type of poker game itself. Instead it’s a way of playing them. Intrigued?

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What is heads-up poker?

Heads-up poker refers to any form of the game in which the hand is played out between just two players. Head-to-head poker in other words. Virtually any type of poker can be played heads-up.

Hands progress according to the rules of the specific type of poker you’re playing heads-up, just as they would do were more players involved. However, there are some heads-up adaptations in community card poker games such as Texas Holdem (see how to play, below).

Games of poker can become heads up when just two players remain at the table at the start of a hand, while heads-up tournaments are popular at online poker sites.

With only one opponent to beat, competitors have a high chance of winning each hand regardless of what they are dealt and tend to play aggressively as a result. Similarly, with only one opponent needing to fall for your bluff, bluffing is more likely to be successful.

How to play heads-up poker! 
As mentioned above, the rules for many forms of poker don’t change when playing heads-up. If you’re new to poker check out our how to play poker section for an introduction to the game and links to how-to-play guides for Texas Holdem, Omaha and other types of poker.

There is one key adaptation when it comes to playing community card poker games such as Texas Holdem and Omaha heads up, which see the normal position of the small and big binds reversed.

In poker games other than heads-up the small blind is posted by the player positioned clockwise from the dealer (or nominal dealer in online poker). The big blind is posted by the player to the left of the small blind.

The first round of betting begins with the player who sits to the left of the player who posted the big blind and all subsequent rounds of betting begin with the player who posted the small blind.

However in heads-up play, the dealer posts the short blind and their opponent posts the big blind.

Why is the position of the blinds reversed in heads-up poker? Basically to ensure fairness.

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If the position of the blinds wasn’t reversed in heads-up poker the player who isn’t dealing would get to act first in the betting rounds both before and after the flop because there are only two players involved.

This would give them an advantage.

Onyeweaku Wisdom Ibe Bekee

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