If you want to be a professional poker player, it's essential to have the necessary skill to "close" out a game. Many players are forgotten due to their inability to finish.
On the other hand, some players are renowned for their skill at heads-up play. Daniel Negreanu has issued a challenge to anyone who's willing to play a heads-up match in their choice of poker games for a minimum of $100,000 up to a maximum of $500,000. Now that's confidence in your heads-up game!
The thing about heads-up play is that all of a sudden the game plan you've been using all along suddenly becomes obsolete. Poker is all about adapting, and that's especially true when you're playing one-on-one. It can be more about instinct and feel during a heads-up battle than at any other time. You have to take everything you learned about your opponent and use it against him. Remember that a lot of rookies concentrate too much on their own hand when they should be thinking about what their opponent holds.
Many professionals mention that aggression is the key to winning in heads-up play. A one-on-one match is definitely not the time to become passive. Call often, because if you don't, your opponent gets to keep your blinds for free. It's pretty much the opposite of playing a full ring. Any hand with a high card warrants a call or a bet.
For example here are some of the hands that have won a WSOP bracelet so far: Brandon Cantu won with Q♠ 5♥, William Chen won with A♥ 4♦, and Jeff Cabanillas won with 5♦ 3♦. Not exactly amazing hands, but they got the job done.
Heads-up play is very fast paced, and you'll need to think quickly and not be bullied. You need to show determination and composure, or your opponent will blind you out. It's kill or be killed at the final table.
Of course, you go into heads-up play with a different mindset depending on what kind of chip stack you have. If you're the short stack, you're going to have to take some risks while the chip leader can decide when to push.
All this advice must be taken with a grain of salt, because it's also important to switch your play up every now and then. If you follow a certain pattern in poker you'll become predictable.
Heads-up play is especially hard to master because you just don't do it very often. A great way to practice is by going to one of the various online poker rooms and trying out one-on-one situations. You may learn more about your game and what you need to improve on. For even more information and advice, check out PokerListing.com's strategy section.