Heads-up tournaments have been frequent on my poker menu lately. I've come across a whole range of players, many of whom seem to suffer from the same fatal disease: they bleed chips until they die! It's not just one hand where they lose their stack but it's most of the hands they choose to play. I can imagine these players complain about missed flush draws and missed straight draws while dismissing the fact that they might've been outplayed by their opponent.

Two questions to answer before entering the pot: 1. Is your starting hand strong or not? 2. Are you taking the lead and bet/raise/bluff until your opponent gives up or are you letting your opponent take the lead and bet/raise/bluff until you give up? Once you've made your decisions, don't change your mind. You might think you'll save a few chips by not calling the last bet because you missed the draw once again but if you're not sure, keeping the pot small saves you way more chips than giving up a huge pot.

First example: The villain obviously thinks their hand is strong enough for a preflop raise. Then they take the lead and bet only to follow by calling twice and finally folding.

Calling the bet on the turn and then folding on the river is a huge leak. Now we don't know what hand the villain had but maybe something higher than a 7, anyway. So how to fix the leak? Raise on the turn, or if you're greedy, call the turn and raise on the river, and not because you made a strong hand but because you think I'm bluffing. When your cards run dry you can always play your opponent.

Second example: I knew I had a strong hand and I also had the better position.

If you call the bets on the flop and on the turn, you also call the bet on the river, because you think you've got the best hand. You don't raise if you're not sure and you also want to keep the pot small as far as it's up to you. Folding on the flop wouldn't be bad either but you just can't always fold your strong hands.

More observations after some more heads-up tournaments to follow eventually...