The easiest way to start improving your poker skills immediately

Today I am sharing my simplest yet most powerful tip.  I am convinced that once you integrate the following into your poker game/routine, you will begin enjoying poker on a whole new level AND tremendously improve your poker skills.

The trick is to grab a friend, a tray of poker chips and a timer; then start playing some live heads up poker freezouts with your best poker buddy.


Here are some thoughts on some of the variables involved in setting up a Heads Up match.  The key is to make these matches as competitive and enjoyable as possible in order to get the most out of them.

Heads Up Freezouts:  Playing a series of freezouts is the best way to keep these games engaging.  Being able to reset the chips equally after winning or losing a game will keep both parties engaged and ready to compete.

Starting stacks:  The starting stacks should not be too shallow as this would restrict the amount of creative play, but they should also not be unrealistically deep either. The goal is to reproduce situations similar to your standard full table game.   Starting stacks of about 80 to 120 big blinds with 20 minute or so levels should be adequate for most players.

The Stakes:  Stakes should be high enough to keep the competitive momentum flowing, but not too high as to discourage the matches from continuously running.  Make each match be worth fighting for but not enough to hurt anyone enough to make them feel like they have to quit playing before they lose too much.

Side Bet:  Seeing that single heads up freezouts are very small units of play,   you can always turn them into a series of matches.  For instance, all of my heads up games with my buddies are part of “race to 10 win” matches.  We bet a certain amount per individual win plus the first to win 10 freezouts wins an extra bet. This is yet another way to keep things competitive.  Having a constantly running scoreboard helps keep the participants motivated.


Here are a few guidelines to consider in finding a heads Up buddy that will help you get the most out of these matches.

A worthy opponent – Your opponent should be a tough challenge for you.  He should not be overly predictable so that you are forced into as many tough decisions as possible

Competitive – The more competitive these matches are, the more you will get out of them.  Try to find a heads up friend that will “fight for every inch” and spark your competitiveness!

Wanting to improve – Find an opponent that is looking to reap the same benefits from these matches as you are. Find an opponent that plays poker to improve and because it is the most enjoyable game on Earth. You need to play with someone that PLAYS POKER FOR VALUE!


Playing these freezouts will help your poker game in many ways.

They will force you to play more hands:  This also means you will play hands that you would not play often under normal conditions.  This will help you figure out those “odd situations” you find yourself in during your regular game.  Experience is one of the keys in poker. Heads up poker is a quick way to gain a lot of MEANINGFUL experience.

They will force you to pay attention:  There is a lot less downtime while playing heads Up poker.  You are in or near the action 100 percent of the time.  This encourages you to examine your opponent more closely.  Heads up poker promotes the habit of profiling your opponent’s tendencies and helps you appreciate the value of studying your opponent for verbal and nonverbal tells.

You will become “battle ready”: Getting much repetition in a very COMPETITIVE setting will benefit you when you need it most.  To maintain your composure while facing a tough decision with something significant on the line is a learnable skill.  Playing these heads up matches will help fight the tendency of ‘freezing” in tough spots during your regular game.

Do you play regular heads up matches with your buddies?  If so, has it improved your overall game? How so?  If you have any suggestions or comments, I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. You are a dog to me headsup.

  2. Nice article. All i need now is a friend who’s playing the game :)

  3. Andrei, having a group of friends to talk/think/play poker with is vital to your progress. If you don’t have poker playing friends, seek some!

  4. Thank for the advice Jeff, I’m conscious about that.

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