How to Play Heads-Up Poker vs. a Weird Player

I played a short heads-up session today on Full Tilt while I was waiting for my cash-out from other poker rooms so I could deposit to a new one. This was the kind of player who is in with too many hands and playing them in a very unorthodox manner (a.k.a donkish).

He was min-reraising me pre-flop 80% of the time I raised from the button and he was min-raising from the button with a very wide range. I started off playing pretty tight like I always do heads-up, because I want to feel what I am up against and how I can adjust my play.

The game started off with me raising like normal to about 3BBs (3 big blinds) on the button a few times and I kept getting either called and bet into on the flop or min-reraised to 5BB total.

In the beginning of this brief heads-up match I missed all of the flops so I couldn’t do much and I was not going to start bluffing my chips away vs. a player like this who was most likely going to call me down with any piece of the board.

So I was patient. He suddenly showed off a new invention he apparently just came up with, called the min-check-raise, he did it way too often, which made me believe he didn’t have much, but again, I couldn’t do anything because I was not hitting flops.

My plan was to frustrate him by making big bets and raises when I had the goods and play tight pre-flop so I could play more aggressive post-flop, this would lead him to believe I was full of it even more.

I was losing, I was probably down a buy-in from missing flops. This is usually where most players get frustrated and try to start bluffing a player like this, but you have to remain patient and realize that you will get his money when you start hands and he gives you his money with worse hands.

Then came a hand where I got stacked, I raised Q T on the button and got min-reraised again, I called.

Flop came T 9 2, he checked, I bet pot and he min-check-raised me, I pushed all-in instantly and got called by
T 9 and his hand held up. Oh well, these things happen.

Why did I push the flop there? The simple answer; because I thought he would call with a worse hand, I am pretty sure he would’ve called off his stack there with any ten and hands like QJ which had a straight draw.

A few hands later I received Q 8 and I just limped on the button because he was min-reraising me and I didn’t want to build pots, because I knew that I could get him to commit all his chips even though the pot was small on the flop and if I made the pot big he was going to win it most of the time if I didn’t hit because he was betting and calling all the time.

So he raised in the big blind and I called with my Q 8, the flop came down 4 5 8 , he bet over pot (16BB into a 6BB pot) and I called, turn was the 5, he now bet pot and I pushed all-in and he folded. Why did I push all-in? My reason was the same as in the Q T hand, I thought he would absolutely call with worse hands and there was big likelyhood that he didn’t have anything, and he might even call with a draw.

This is when the momentum started to turn in my favor. I started getting pots and winning back my money and then some, this short heads-up match really summed up how you can to adjust and adapt to different players, especially heads-up, you can’t start forcing the action and if you feel like you’re being outplayed and don’t have a plan to get your opponents money in the long-run, there’s nothing wrong with just quitting.

Anyway, then came the following hand: I get T 9 and just limp on the button, he raises as always and I call.

Flop comes a beautiful T 9 4 , and he bets 5BB into the 6BB pot, I raise a bit over the pot to 25BB total, he pushes it in and I call. He shows A 6 with only Ace high and backdoor straight draw.

The turn brings a nice K and he is drawing dead. I got my money back and ended up almost 1 buy-in vs this guy.

So why did I say this heads-up Texas Hold’em match worked out nicely? Because it shows that you have to plan what to do and how to adjust to your opponent. Sometimes you’ll play vs. a player like this and he’ll keep sucking out on you, hitting better flops or just bluffing you out when you hit nothing.

During these times you have to decide for yourself if you want to use a stop-loss, and if you’re starting to become frustrated I recommend you quit, but if you do what I did and plan then you should be fine.


  • Identify your opponents tendencies
  • Plan how you will adjust
  • Plan how you will beat your opponent
  • Be patient
  • Enjoy the challenge of outwitting someone

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