How to beat passive players in heads-up poker

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Posted on: June 26, 2020 6:52 pm EDT

Figuring out playing styles of your opponents is the first key to poker success

One important skill to have in poker, that can be frequently found in successful players, is the ability to read your opponents and “label” them. Of course, every player is unique from the rest, but certain patterns allow you to classify your opponent to give you an idea of the best strategy to implement. One of the easiest players to identify is the passive one, who is also known as “calling stations” and, especially during heads-up, a good tactic can give you an edge to force that player into play and take advantage.

One of the most common characteristics is that passive players rarely fold, which can be tilting to play against. However, if you understand the different tendencies among players, it is easier to make adjustments to your play. As a general rule of thumb, it is never a good idea to bluff when playing against a passive player in a heads-up match. It is a bit of generic advice, but it goes beyond that. Strategies like stealing preflop, c-betting, double or triple barreling are typically a bad idea against these players, who will not fold and most likely will spend a lot of your resources without success.

Another thing calling stations do is make light calls with mediocre hands like a low pair or an ace-high. So, when facing this kind of hand, it will be worth stepping into action only when your hands are better like second or third pair to attack with a better value these players. This is typically known as value bet or value betting thinly.

Another thing you should avoid is hero calling, which is a term used to call thin or marginal calls. This only works with aggressive players because they bluff often, but it won’t work against a calling station. They have a tendency to call rather than bet or raise, so most likely, they will have a better range to beat you.