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Heads Up Texas Holdem Rules

Page summary: An overview of how to play Heads Up Texas Holdem including the rules and strategy.

Heads Up Texas Holdem Rules - How to Play Heads Up Texas Holdem

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Heads Up Texas Holdem has become a popular format that demands a true form of poker play. Heads Up is about getting to know your opponent and playing him despite the cards. Some players are really intrigued by the one on one intensity and find it be kind of like a chess match.

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The world stage has taken on this new poker format by hosting large televised tournaments. The National Heads Up Poker Championship was hosted in Barcelona, Spain and broadcasted by NBC. Texas Holdem is a simple form of poker in terms of rules; however, it takes dedication and persistence to master.


Texas Holdem is played in a variety of formats. The betting can be Limit, Pot-Limit or No-Limit. This is referring to how much you can wager. Texas Holdem offers various table size games such as Heads Up, 6-Max, 4-Max or Full Ring.

Texas Holdem plays with blinds and there is a small blind and a big blind. The small blind is the player to the left of the dealer. The big blind is the player immediately to the left of the small blind. Obviously, in Heads-Up, this doesn't work out. In Heads Up Texas Holdem, the dealer is the small blind and the other player is the big blind.

In Heads Up Texas Holdem, when you're the dealer, you are the button and under the gun. You are first to act pre-flop and you sit on the button the rest of the way. In the other formats of Texas Holdem, the person sitting to the left of the big blind is considered under the gun and the dealer is referred to as the button.

For Heads Up Texas Holdem, each player puts in their blinds and they both receive two cards face down. A round of betting will take place or the dealer can call the big blind and your opponent can check it to the flop. The flop is where the dealer deals three community cards. A betting round occurs and another community card is dealt. This card is called the turn. After a betting round, the final card comes out, which is known as the river. There is a final betting round and the players go to a showdown if the action is called.

Players can use any 5 of their cards choosing from the 5 community cards and their 2 hole cards. The best hand wins. Hand ranking is based on the standard ranking system where a Royal Flush is the highest and a Pair is the lowest. If you don't hit at least a pair, you only have a chance at winning based on the high card.


Heads Up Texas Holdem is intense because it's aggressive. You're financially involved in every hand, so even the tight fold, fold, fold strategy sends you spiraling due to the blinds. In Texas Holdem 6-Max or Full Ring, the hands that win tend to be significantly stronger on average than in Heads Up. Hand selection is way looser in Heads Up Texas Holdem.

This type of format makes stealing the pot a certainty on the majority of hands. Someone's trying to steal the pot between the two of you on just about every hand. If someone isn't trying to steal the pot, there's a good chance a slow play is taking place or a weak draw. The format just requires aggressiveness based on reads.

The check-raise strategy is used a lot. If a check goes around and the first to act checks again, the better position is going to bet 90% of the time. The key to being a good Heads Up Texas Holdem player is being able to be aggressive and learn your opponents.

Don't be afraid to stab when it seems right but remember damage control. Heads Up is about feeling out your opponent, striking when you can and getting out when you're beat. It's fast paced and just remember that hand selection is way different.

The majority of successful Heads Up Texas Holdem players previously were Full Ring players and learned to be successful in that format. Ironically, you have to leave behind some of the things you've learned for Full Ring due to the aggressiveness of Heads Up. However, if you have mastered playing position, hand strength and selection, you will have a good understanding of how to play loose and play the player, not the cards. It's easier said than done, but just start out at low stakes and give it a shot. Heads Up Texas Holdem brings a different type of play and if you are successful and also play Full Ring, the Heads Up skills can help you tremendously when the tourneys get down to the last few players.