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The Importance of Position in Heads Up Poker

If you're a heads up player, it's very likely that you didn't start out a heads up player. You started playing a different variation or format, maybe something like 6-max or sit and go tournaments. Regardless, you should already have an understanding of what position is and why it's important in poker.

If you don't, I have briefly gone over this below. Additionally, I have gone over some tactics that all heads up player should know and/or use more frequently while in position playing heads up poker.

General Importance of Position

Position in poker is important, no matter what poker game or variation you're playing. The reasons for this are simple.

  • You are last to act. Being last to act gives you the advantage of seeing what each player decides to do. Using this information, you can make better informed decisions as to what to do with your hand.
  • Control the size of the pot. If you're in position, it's much easier to control the size of the pot. Say you're trying to keep the pot small. You can simply call if you're bet into or check if checked to. This is much more difficult to accomplish out of position. When you act first, you just don't know if your opponent is going to bet or raise.
  • It's much easier to bluff or apply pressure. Again, if you can see your opponents act before you do, then it's easier to determine if your opponent is weak or strong. You can than bet to apply pressure to push him off his hand or try to bluff to steal the pot.

Put simply; everything is much easier to accomplish when you're in position verses being out of position.

Why Position is Important in Heads Up Poker

Position in heads up poker is important simply because there is no middle ground. Unlike a game where there are more players, you can't be in position verses some players and out of position verses others. In heads up poker, either you're in or you're out.

Something else to keep in mind is that regardless of your position, you're always in the blinds. It's always costing you money to be dealt a hand. It's worse out of position as you're the big blind. So if you're playing a positionally unaware game, you're going to cost yourself a lot of money. This is going to be hard to recoup, even if you manage to steal a ton of blindswhile on the button.

How to Use Position in Heads Up Poker

The tactics and strategies you use while playing heads up poker in position will be similar to any other game. However, you'll have to use them more often. After all, you're in position every other hand.

Here are some strategies or tactics that I suggest using (or using more of) in position when playing heads up poker.

The Float

Floating is a play where you call a player's flop bet with the intention of lifting the pot on a later street. Most times when you float, you don't actually have a hand. However, in heads up poker, if you have something like ace or king high, you have a decent hand - one that has showdown value no less.

( has written a great article about floating. Be sure to check it out.)

How often you float will depend mostly on your opponent, but you should consider the flop texture too. You should ask yourself questions like; how often does my opponent c-bet and does he like to double barrel? The more frequent your opponent c-bets, the more often you should float. I like to float weak-tight players who tend to c-bet the flop and shut down if they have yet to improve. These guys are easy pickings in position.

Bluff Raising the Flop

I'm not sure if "bluff raising" is the proper term, or if there is even a proper term for it.

Anyway, by bluff raising I mean to 3-bet your opponent when he donks out on the flop. This will frequently be a c-bet and by being in position, you can reapply the pressure. This maneuver is mostly profitable verses players who donk the flop a ton. I would also suggest doing it on moderately textured boards. In other words, if it's too dry a board, sometimes you ask to be re-popped and if it's a super coordinated board, you'll hardly ever get folds. So somewhere in between is best.

Raise the Majority of Your Hands from the Button

Because of position, you should be raising most of your hands on the button, if you're not doing so already. You're going to be in position for the entire hand, so you might as well start to apply the pressure early. In fact, many players raise 100% of the hands they're dealt on the button and their range back as the match progresses and they better determine what they're opponent's range is like.

C-Bet Frequently

Since you're opening the button with a wide range of hands (or should be), you should also be c-betting frequently.

While you can c-bet from either position, the bonus to c-betting while in position is that you got to see what you're opponent did first. It's very likely that he just checked to you, in which case you can assume that he's weak or has nothing. Your c-bet will often take the pot down.

Sure, sometimes your opponent will check raise you. But this won't be as often as you think, unless you're heads up with a maniac. That plus the fact that you can see some check raises before they happen. A good example of this would be on flops like Jh-Th-7s or something where there are tons of draws possible. But you can just simply counter a check-raise by not letting it happen in the first place - if you're opponent checks to you, simply check back. Isn't position great?

Summary of Position in Heads Up Poker

Position is imperative in any poker game, format or variation. It helps you to gain more info which in turn enables you to make better decisions as to what play is best for your current situation.

In heads up poker, this is no different. In fact, you could even say it's more important. In a game where you're in and out of position every other hand and it's costing you money regardless, knowing how to play according to your position will without a doubt mean the difference between being a losing player or being a winner.

More Heads Up Poker Strategy
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