RING games heads up play - pre flop play (position, range, bet size)

Ring games only, heads up tips, strategy, advice. not tournament

Please dont discuss HU (heads up) tournament play. Tournament is very different to cash/ring games. Unless its specifically a HU tournament its mostly unrelated.

Any advice is welcome but specifically pre flop bet size & position & range. Players on replay are very exploitable. Suggestions & advice please: from player that understand cash game play & specifically HU tips, strategy & advice. Specifically exploitable play, betting, position & ranges.

Im a decent ring game player. I like 4-6 player tables. Im an aggressive lose, TAG if i had to categorise and do well on 9 player but find it a slow paced & boring. i mostly play 4-6 bc its more entertaining & faster paced. Started playing HU ring & am doing well simply bc the players are so bad. Its alwasys fast & entertaining.

Specific question: (pre flop) can & should i raise more in what position? raise more or less with what hands? 3bet range?

I’ll generally min-raise on the button with about 80% of my hands and fold the weakest 20%. If I’m getting a lot of folds with that action, I might expand my open range even further. Should V be calling frequently (90%ish, with few folds or 3-bets), I might tighten a little bit, but increase my open size.

I’d expect the big blind to 3-bet about 20-25% of his hands facing that action. In that case, I’ll fold off the 10% weakest, disconnected parts of my range, call about 60%, and 4-bet with about 10% of my range. If a competitor is 3-betting more frequently facing my opens, I’ll tighten up a bit, maybe to 70%, while looking to 4-bet a bit wider, maybe closer to 15%-20%, in order to punish his excessive aggression. I’d generally target a 4-bet size around 2.6x the 3-bet size.

Out of position, my strategy will vary based on the small blind’s typical action. If he usually limps, like most of the players in RP, I’ll take my free card about 65% of the time, and bet 4-5BB with the top third of hands. Facing an open from that type of player, I’ll over-fold, since it usually indicates exceptional strength, and I’d be out of position postflop. Against a more active small blind that usually min-bets, I’d look to 3-bet about 20% of my range, call with around 65%, and fold the bottom 15%. With a larger small blind open size, I’d call with fewer hands, and both fold and 3-bet more often. My target 3-bet size is usually around 4x the small blind’s open size, looking to get more folds since I’ll be out of position postflop, and should have a decent range advantage.

I know you mentioned this is specifically for rings, but I don’t make significant adjustments to the aforementioned strategy when I’m playing tournaments, whether we’re the last two of an MTT, or a HUSnG, unless one or both of us is extremely short-stacked.

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@WannabeCoder Thanks for your tips. I will need to read again to get more out of it. Jus finished work n had a few drinks.

I like to start aggressive early on, especially considering most RP players are passive & dont raise much & are calling stations. Starting with min raise, with a loser range seems a good strategy - especially to gauge the opponent & set the tone for a short while, whilst evaluating.

As you mentioned most RP players are fairly passive which is rarely profitable HU play, although recently a passive HU player basically destroyed me or maybe i just threw away my chips & tried to gamble too much. I rarely lose in HU play bc they are almost always so bad.

Also noted (out of position) opening larger sizes 4-5BB and bigger 3 bet size with a tighter range. So applying more pressure and giving worse pot odds to opponent to negate being out of position basically?

I find tournament HU seems to play out fairly simply compared to ring HU bc the blinds/antes seem to create action & create juicier pots. OFC SnGs HU are similar but still force more action with blinds/antes raising.

A lot of good advice. In position on the button do you increase your open size after some time? Min raise seems too small, and not making opponent pay enough. I like to start/open with a 2.5BB or 3BB raise & increase it to 4BB & 5BB if im getting too much action.

I’m not a great HU player, so just trying to get better & understand better the strategy to play HU ring games better.

Thanks for tips & advice.

Not sure I fully understand this sentence. The V was a typo?

Nope, V was shorthand for villain - in this case, the out-of-position big blind player.

Put another way, if I notice that my opponent is calling preflop when he should be folding or 3-betting, I’ll tighten up (fold slightly more frequently, raise a bit less often), but use a larger bet size until I start seeing more folds.

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HU, I generally raise 2.2x with with about the top 95% of hands. If the villain 3 bets often, I’ll raise with slightly less hands and consider 4-bet blufiing. If the villain calls too much, I’ll raise 3x or 3.5x. I find that most players on RP, when playing HU, don’t 3-bet enough and fold too often, so I use a small bet size to exploit their high fold frequency.

In 6 max, I find the blinds defends don’t 3-bet enough and defend too wide. I exploit this by opening the button with more suited hands and less off-suit hands. The suited hands have good playability against their uncapped range and are good for bluffing. Since most players defend too wide, I cbet often to exploit the fact that they miss the flop very often. I would argue a hand like 74s should be a raise. On earlier positions, I raise bigger and with a tighter range since I get many flat callers.

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Some great tips, especially RP specific. RP & the players make basic ABC 123 poker good but not as profitable as exploitative play IMO. Honestly i think GTO poker is the best coupled with exploitative play but the players on replay are often so bad i think a basic poker understanding & exploitable play wins hands down.

Thanks for some great tips. Feel free to comment on post flop play as well. Im not a great HU player but ive heard or learnt slow play, or checking top pair etc is good, deceptive play on the flop and much more common among good players in HU.

Feel free to expand on ring HU tips, strategy beyond pre flop play.

Thanks for clarifying. Your first paragraph means a lot, now that i understand. Min raise as i mentioned seems too small but a great start with a wider range than i start with. Adjustment to increase open size seems good, which i really didnt understand before. Button open size of 2.5x, 3x, 3.5x seems more standard & depending on players still gets action.

Thanks for clarification. Your explanation n tips seems progressive n adaptive which is what im looking for. I think my biggest fault is not 3 bettting enough. Seems harder to do against more passive players though.

I recently faced a few NIT players and it was hard to get action. The few times i finally did get action i gambled too much & over exposed myself with weaker hands and tried to call bluffs or make bluffs. Probably not good play against a better range & tighter play. Guess i shoulda jus played patiently but thats the diff with tournament HU. Against a nit in a tournament u still win a decent chunk of chips & part of their stack with blinds/antes raising.

Please feel free to give some basic post flop tips too.

Thanks for input.

Speculative: I have often limped good hands like A4O, A7 off & raised garbage like 27 to get a fold bc Vbad hands dont have play-ability. I hate playing 27 & will fold from SB in normal 4, 6, 9 player games.

I want a fold with garbage, but think i can still make money with Ace rags when i hit & avoid disaster against strong Aces like AK, AQ, AJ etc & make good folds.

Good or bad play? Tips? Keep in mind its ring play HU. In a tournament im probably playing Vdifferently. I dont think slow play is necessary & blinds/antes force pot sizes.

This is probably my worst session HU. Keep in mind its only MED stakes, 200/400 ring.
Session: 57mins, 148hands:
Played poorly? Good poker players pride themselves on making good folds and not playing bad poker. I think I played well below par with not much luck either.

Starting hand: https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/582186140 (Ad7h)

Biggest losses losses:
https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/582189335 (10h5c tried to hero call, fold pre flop in SB?)
https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/582190458 (thoughts on this hand?)
This hand is most of my loss in this session. Cooler or foldable HU?

Constructive criticism welcome.

Another big loss: (chasing a loss)

https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/582193657

New Session HU against a player Im familiar with: (big loss) 100hands, 46mins
First hand https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/584522720 (Kc8d)
https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/584523462 (big win)

losing hands:
https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/584523802 (2 hands later 88 out of position, bad play)
https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/584532596 (this hand was a lil upsetting)

I know Ive missed opportunities & played some hands badly - like the 88 Vs 1010 - but I was fairly unlucky no?

@DogsOfWar, you seem to have a weakness when it comes to reacting to overbets.

Yes, when a villain is overbetting, they should have more bluffs in their range. However, it also means you can tighten up and call with fewer hands while still being profitable. In the T5o hand (which probably should have been folded preflop), you faced a 2x overbet on the turn, and a pot-sized bet on the river. With third pair on the turn, and a weak pair on a paired board on the river, there’s no need to call down as light as T5. In the TT vs 88 hand, you’d invested about 2500 chips, and V jammed 50K. You really don’t need to call this down with anything weaker than queens in order for this to be a long-term profitable decision.

Thanks for your input.

Yeah the T5o was bad. I shoulda folded pre but decided to gamble - bad pre flop play. On the turn i was think it was a bluff so called & am almost certainly calling the river.

The 88 was another bad gamble hand. At best im coin flipping with AK-AT and i hate coin flipping anyway. Again i think i was trying to call a bluff that basically rarely exist if ever. I was surprised to see TT all in but i shouldnt have been. It was a fairly weak open shove, though not as weak as im trying to call.