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Tools to Improve Your Heads Up Game

Since heads up poker is truly one of the most difficult forms of poker to play, you'll want to take advantage of all the different tools that will help improve your game. Whether it's while you play or while you're studying your game away from the tables, there are plenty of tools out there. Some tools are even free.

So, that's what the focus of this article will be. I will discuss the tools I suggest that you use in order to maximize your time as well as maximize your earnings.

Tools to Improve Your Heads Up Game: Away From the Tables

Here are all the tools I'd suggest using away from the tables to improve your play. You might be surprised to find that many of these tools are excellent for any form or variation of poker that you may choose to play, not just heads up.

Universal Replayer:

The universal replayer, also known as the "popopop" replayer, is without a doubt one of the best tools to pick up if you're looking to improve your heads up game (or any variation of poker for that matter). It allows you to import hand histories so you can review. It supports cash, MTT and SNG hand histories as well as Texas Hold'em and Omaha. A few of the neat features I like include the pot odds display and the color coding for whether you won or lost a hand at the bottom. If it's red, you lost and green you won. This enables you to review your hand histories faster.

The best part about the Universal Replayer is that it was just recently updated (it hasn't been updated in at least a year). It's also free. Be sure to pick this up and review your heads up hand histories.

Poker Stove:

Poker Stove is another must have tool. It's an equity calculator that will tell you how often a hand is good verses another one at any stage. For example, you can take AA vs KK and run the calculator preflop to find that AA vs KK is roughly 80% to win. This is important to know because when combined with your pot odds, you can determine whether you're getting a good price to call a bet or shove. Using AA vs KK as an example again, if you know for a fact that your opponent has AA and you have KK, you can call profitably getting 4.1 to 1 odds, but you'll lose if you're getting 3.9 to 1 odds (breaking even at 4 to 1).

Poker Stove is a good tool to help with your post flop play as well which is huge in heads up play. You can input your hole cards, the flop and your opponents range based on the preflop action to determine how much equity you have in the hand. You'll use this information to determine your play - either you'll check or check/call for pot control or you'll lead, raise or check/raise to build the pot. Poker Stove is also a free tool.

Poker Training Sites:

Poker training sites are excellent for improving your heads up play. Many training sites like actually dedicated series' of videos to heads up play. They'll cover heads up topics such as hand selection, position and post flop play. I've only watched the videos at DC (which are very good), but you can sign up to any training site and find a video that is useful for heads up play.

Watching a 6-max video would be helpful because you'll learn a lot about position, aggression, and post flop hand reading. You might find a SNG video helpful because you learn about pot control (since SNGS generally start with shorter stacks with increasing blinds). The point is that you don't just have to watch a heads up video to learn something that will improve your heads up game and make you a better heads up player.

Most training sites are extremely affordable in relation to the information you receive. Subscriptions are in the neighborhood of $20 to $35 a month. Keep in mind that some sites will require a sign-up fee of $75 to $125.

Tools to Improve Your Heads Up Game: At the Tables

Calculator: I keep a calculator to run pot odds if I think a spot is close. You just take the total amount that you need to call and divide that by the total in the pot (the amount you need to call + what's in the pot). You'll get a percentage. You take this percentage and compare it to your odds of winning the hand (you can use Poker Stove or the 2/4 rule) and as long as your pot odds are smaller than your odds to win, it's a profitable call. How profitable depends on your margin.

Heads Up Display (HUD): A heads up display won't be as useful when you first start playing heads up in my opinion because you'll likely only be one or two tabling. You should be able to have an idea of how loose/tight your opponent is playing, how often they're 3-betting, etc without having to have a HUD up. However, once you start to play more tables than that, I would definitely recommend using a HUD to keep track of all of that for you. The stats I would suggest using would be VPIP, PFR, 3-bet, Fold to 3-bet and donk bet flop. That's only my opinion though. There really isn't a right or wrong answer as to what stats you should use.

Shark Scope:

If you play HU SNGs, you'll want to have Shark Scope ready so you can see how profitable a player may or may not be. Often times the decisions you make will change based on how good you perceive a player to be. Subscriptions for Shark Scope are anywhere from $24 to $30 a month. You can buy 200 searches (non-subscription) for approximately $10.

Poker Table Ratings:

This is the same as Shark Scope, but for cash games. Much of what you choose to do will be based on how good you think a player is. You may even choose to table select around someone if they're really good. PTR has a free option, or you can choose from one of three paid options ranging from $10 (one time fee) to $13 or $33 per month.

Summary of Tools to Improve Your Heads Up Play

This isn't a complete list of tools to help improve your heads up play by far. However, these are the tools I use on a regular basis that I guarantee will help improve your game to some extent, whether by helping you to make more informed decisions at the table or just improve certain skill sets within your game. You'll find that the cost for most of these programs is cheap, if not free, and that they'll quickly pay for themselves over and over again.

More Heads Up Poker Strategy
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