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|
Post flop, heads up
- Follow the advice in the middle stages article of this series.
- Additionally, be willing to play medium draws very aggressively for your entire stack, especially with less than double the pot in your remaining stack.
In the money essentials
- Play for first, settle for third
- Don’t relax
- Be very aggressive when you are the big stack to put pressure on your opponents
- Be more selective with your hands against the big stack when you have a medium stack
- Play aggressive when you are the short stack
- Don’t play tight when you get to heads-up
- Push from the button with any two cards when you have fewer than 8 BB in heads-up
- Be more aggressive post-flop