"I'm Nobody But Everybody Love Me" – Scotty Nguyen

The Prince of Poker and old school Las Vegas Legend Scotty Nguyen Tells All to Sarah Herring and Brent Harrington in this interview. He opens up about his advice for young poker players both in poker and in marriage. He shares his biggest mistakes and his biggest successes. Nguyen tells his story from the early days a bus boy and trying to get a glimpse of Stu Unger and Doyle Brunson to the peak of his popularity and more. Finally he reveals his plans for the future including a totally revised approach to the World Series of Poker and a partnership with Cryptonia Poker.

For more on Cryptonia: https://www.cryptonia.poker/

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LIVE PokerNews Podcast with Haslet House Poker

Sarah Herring and Brent Harrington go through the latest in news from pokerpoker Millions North American at the Playground Poker Club. You can find more on this event which was voted the best event last year here: https://www.playgroundpoker.ca/
They also discuss an article on that breaks down the reason you Aren’t Winning at the World Series of Poker. Full Article Here: https://www.pokernews.com/strategy/wsop-2018-5-reasons-winning-players-lose-world-series-poker-30359.htm
Shout Out to sponsors that are bringing real money play to the USA: https://globalpoker.com/
Finally Haslet House Poker joins the Podcast. Haslet House is a group of poker players that have all made the plunge into a professional poker career together. They support each other, talk hands, and create super cool content you can find on their Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/haslethousepoker/ And YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC77RqWYrgaNOllnlOwi3q0g/videos
The Haslet House Poker team opens about moving up in stakes, studying, where to play, WSOP plans and more.

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Poker Pro Melanie Weisner Analyzes Hand Against Tracy Nguyen

Melanie Weisner analyzes one of the most interesting hands from her extremely profitable session on Poker Central’s Poker After Dark. Poker After Dark hosted a "Femme Fatale" Night with a fantastic female line up including Kristen Bicknell, Sofia Lovgren, Kathy Leibert, Tracy Nguyen, J.J. Lieu and of course Melanie Weisner. The night saw several really compelling hands evolve. During the Podcast Melanie walked through 2 of the hands. You can find that here:

To find the full article on the night click here:


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Why Cryptonia Poker Might be the Future?

With all of the buzz in the poker world about crypto, does any of it actually affect poker? In short, yes. Cryptonia Poker is a new online poker site that is set to launch this summer. Cryptonia Poker uses blockchain technology to ensure safety, anonymity and fast, secure transactions. Using a proprietary token Cryptonia, the project aims to eliminate tons of the issues poker players face today.
Sarah Herring takes a look at the website and some of the corresponding documents to give you a taste of the goals and possibilities of the marriage of crypto and poker.

For more on Cryptonia check out: https://www.cryptonia.poker/

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Ring hunting in South Lake and The South! Chasing #1- The Jesse Capps Poker Vlog (Episode 3)

Getting back on my feet I decided to start traveling again and as I have done the past 5 years I head out to go play the World Series of Poker circuit events around the country. I currently hold the record for most cashes without a ring. 50 cashes and 20 final tables and yet no victories. I would like to change that this season. I have also qualified for the WSOPc Global Casino Championships twice and would like to be in the top 50 point earners again to get a $1,000,000 freeroll with coverage on ESPN. I set out on my quests to find that elusive ring starting with poker trips to Harveys in Lake Tahoe and Choctaw in Durant Oklahoma. Tournament poker travels that most Vlogges don’t do. Lets see if I can have fun and bring home a ring.

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Jesse’s Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFmB9BynRy3rzRdiNKEkeQw
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Come play at the Bellagio where I Deal!

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LIVE PokerNews Podcast with Jaime & Matt Staples

Another LIVE Podcast with your hosts Sarah Herring and Brent Harrington. This week they welcome guests Jaime and Matt Staples to talk about their incredible weight loss/ weight gain bet. They discuss the future of their figures, the next bet with Bill Perkins, Run it Up Reno, Twitch, Streaming, sibling rivalry and more.
Meanwhile Sarah and Brent discuss Stephen Chidwick and his recent move to the GPI top, Muskan Sethi joining PokerStars as Ambassador, ElkY joining the pokerpoker team, merging of player pools, new WSOP POY and more!!

Watch Jaime Play: https://www.twitch.tv/pokerstaples
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What Poker Player Faraz Jaka Learned from Going Broke

Poker Player Faraz Jaka shares stories from his first days playing poker. He experienced culture shock when he moved from Fresno, CA to Champagne, IL for college, but it was there that he first started playing poker. In less than a year, Jaka went from playing $5 buy in games to $100-$200 at Bellagio in Las Vegas. Hear him detail his rapid rise and then even more rapid fall and the advice that helped him climb his way back to the top.

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LIVE PokerNews Podcast with Kevin Martin of Big Brother!

Sarah Herring and Brent Harrington have a jam packed show for episdoe 488 of the Podcast. They talk about all the latest news and gossip from the Poker industry Including the recent HPT and Westgate scandal which you can read about here: https://www.pokernews.com/news/2018/04/hpt-westgate-tournament-fiasco-30423.htm
Then Tony Burns, Poker Tournament Director of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino joins the show to talk about BB ante and other debated topics facing the tournament space and the Poker Showdown Going on Right now!
And finally Kevin Martin of Big Brother Canada fame joins the show to talk about Big Brother Strategy, poker, streaming, twitch, Run it Up Reno, and more.

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Poker Tournament Director of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tony Burns

Tony Burns opens up about some of the issues facing the poker world today including BB Ante, making and meeting guarantees, dealing with Force Majeure and more. He details the excitement of the latest Poker Showdown. During this LIVE portion of the Podcast, Sarah Herring and Brent Harrington agree that Florida is the newest and most enjoyable poker destination in the US.

For More on the Seminole Poker Room Click Here: https://www.seminolehardrockhollywood.com/poker.htm

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So THAT Happened: HPT and Westgate Vegas Controversy

Sasha Salinger breaks down this week’s controversies and news in poker. First up, she breaks down the Heartland Poker Tour Main Event scandal at the Westgate in Vegas. Matt Berkey and Matt Stout tweeted their shock at what took place. Next up, Vanessa Selbst makes a big announcement and last, but not least, Gus Hansen makes a profit by breaking his own rules.

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10 Simple Poker Tells You Can (Usually) Bank On

Tells and poker – a pseudo-science which sometimes seems to work and sometimes seems to not hit the mark at all.

To start with, most amateur poker players have the wrong ideas about which tells to look out for.

Have you ever seen Rounders and Teddy KGB eating an Oreo? Well, Matt Damon obviously could tell by the way Teddy ate his cookie exactly how strong his hand was.

That’s just one of the examples that just don’t work outside of movies.

In most cases tells are contradictory and inconsistent and do not reveal enough information to solely base a play on.

Many experts have written books and articles about tells. Most of them are too broad to actually be useful or they’re too narrow and you’ll rarely find an opponent exposing this specific tell.

PokerOlymp’s Jan Meinert shares 10 tells which (at least in most cases) “work” — if you’re playing against weaker players who don’t have a lot of live experience under their belt.

1. Weak Means Strong

Gabe Costner
A gloomy face can be revealing.

This is one of the best known poker tells and it’s seen very often among new players.

Players that act weak usually have a strong hand. Sighing, shrugging or a gloomy face very often indicate a very strong hand.

It’s a natural instinct when attempting to conceal a big hand to try and appear weak. A player shrugging and raising usually has a strong hand, so don’t fall for that trap!

2. Straightened Posture

A player who straightens his posture to play a hand or while in a hand usually has something he’s at least interested in.

More often than not he even has a very strong hand and is getting ready to pull out the big guns.

3. Abrupt Silence or Flood of Words

A player who normally talks a lot and suddenly becomes silent usually has been dealt a very good hand.

The same holds true for players that usually don’t talk but all of a sudden start to babble after getting dealt a hand.

4. Sound of the Voice

Players wearing hoodies or sunglasses might feel protected from giving away tells, but in fact they’re not.

Often the sound of their voice tells a lot about their hand. Players holding a strong hand have an easier time talking and answering questions.

Players that bluff are often scared to give away a tell and sound insecure.

5. Impatience

A player suddenly waking up and getting impatient during a hand often indicates a strong holding.

Asking questions like “who’s turn is it” and prompting the dealer to continue indicate the player is in a hurry to rake in a nice pot.

A simple chip on the cards could say a lot.

6. Hole-Card Protection

This tell is really simple: Some players actually fall for the trap to protect their hole cards (by putting a chip on top of them) if and only if they are at least fairly strong.

This tell should by all means be exploited to the maximum.

7. Splashing Chips

A player pounding out a bet or splashing chips very often has a weak hand and is trying to cover up for this by acting extra strong.

If a player uses a little bit more force than he usually does when placing his chips, he’s usually making a bluff.

8. Fumbling and Glancing

A player who, after seeing his hole cards, immediately glances at his chips or starts to fumble with them usually has a very strong hand.

Right after seeing his hand he’s thinking about the upcoming bet sizing and thus involuntarily looks at his chips.

The same holds true if a player looks at his chips right after the flop has been dealt. It means the flop has helped his hand and he’s getting ready to fire up the action.

Beware of the freeze.

9. Bet Sizing

Here’s a tell that works without looking at the other players: Weak players often have problems with bet sizing and their bets show exactly how strong their hand is.

Big cards mean big bets, small cards mean small bets. It’s that simple.

If a player repeatedly bets a tiny fraction of the pot with his weak hands, you can be sure he has a monster when he suddenly pulls out the big guns.

10. Freezing

A player who freezes after placing a bet is bluffing very often.

It’s not easy to talk when you’re bluffing. You’re afraid to trigger a call by something you say or with a gesture. So a player who is bluffing often refrains from talking and moving, sometimes even breathing.

This tell also works the other way around: a player who is very talkative after placing a bet usually has it.

He’s trying to lure in a call by any means possible and trying to keep you interested in your hand.



7 Simple Ways to Get Better Results in Poker Tournaments

Poker tournaments are a great way for beginners to learn the game without risking too much.

If you make a deep run and get a bit lucky, too, you can also win a pretty big chunk of money.

PokerOlymp’s Jan Meinert offers up seven simple tips to improve your tournament results pretty quickly and a few general insights into tournament strategy for new players.

1. I Have Chips, Therefore I Am

Strategy in poker tournaments differs enormously from cash-game strategy.

The main difference: In tournaments, it’s all about survival. Once your chips are gone, so are you.

That’s why you should always know how many chips you have and how your stack compares to the ever-increasing blinds. The amount of chips you have dictates the way you have to play during the tournament.

Chips are life.

Chips change value – that’s a common saying in tournament strategy. At the beginning of a tourney you’ll have a plethora of chips (compared to blinds). But over time the blinds increase and you’ll most certainly have fewer chips after a couple of levels (again compared to the blinds).

The less chips you have, the more you should focus on keeping your stack at a healthy level.

2. Poker Tournaments are Like a State Fair

In some ways tournaments can be compared to a State Fair.

When you first get there you have plenty of money and can choose whatever attractions you want. Ride the ferris wheel, hit the bumper cars, throw a baseball at some milk cans or just sit there and enjoy the atmosphere.

But over time you’ll slowly bleed away your money and will have less and less to spend. You also might make a few hasty decisions as the fair gets ready to close.

The same holds true for poker tournaments. Make use of your time at the fair wisely. Don’t blow your budget on the wrong buy-ins or wrong moves too early.

3. Patience, Young Skywalker

The easiest way to describe how a beginner should approach poker tournaments is this:


Play as tight as possible in the beginning and loosen up as you get into the later levels.

Of course this depends on your stack, but in general you should relax during the first levels. Don’t get caught up in big confrontations unless you have a really big hand.

There’s no need to rush things and the risk of losing too many chips in the beginning is a real threat — especially for inexperienced players and when you don’t know how the other players at your table behave.

4. Don’t Get Whamboozled on the Bubble

The bubble
Don’t get whamboozled on the bubble.

The bubble is the phase of the tournament where players are only few spots away from the money.

Bubble time can be one of the most fun times during a poker tournament but it’s also the most stressful time for players with shallow stacks.

Meaning: the next one, two or three players who bust will go home with nothing while the rest of the field will receive some cash.

Just imagine busting during the bubble: you’ve probably played for hours, almost made it to a nice payout and then wham – bamboozled at the very last second.

If you have a small stack during bubble play you should approach every situation with extreme caution – maximize your chance to survive and fold everything that’s not a monster.

If, on the other hand, you made it to the bubble with a big and healthy stack, it’s hammer time. Punish the short stacks and put them all-in at every opportunity (put them all-in, don’t call an all-in without a decent hand)

They will have to fold so often that every time you raise it’s almost like free chips for you.

Don’t get too picky shorthanded or you’ll end up whittled away.

5. Don’t Be Too Picky Playing Shorthanded

Once you get deeper in a tournament you’ll inevitably play short-handed (meaning with less than nine or eight opponents at the table).

During those times you have to play more aggressively than at a full table. All hands with big(ish) cards go up in value.

You’ll often find yourself in situations that might feel weird because your hand looks a bit weak but you should play it aggressively because your opponents also have very wide ranges.

On a shorthanded table you can’t be too picky about your hands. If you wait 20 hands for a monster to punish your loose opponents your stack will have gone through the blinds four or five times and will have decayed considerably (or even might have vanished in the process).

6. Heads-Up: Even More Hammer Time

Should you manage to survive all but one opponent you’ve reached the heads-up phase of the tournament. Play here is so different from the previous phases that it’s worth training for heads-up duels specifically.

Once again cards go up in value and you have to be willing to put tremendous pressure on your opponent, otherwise he’ll just grind you down.

A hand like Ace-Five for example is virtually unplayable in most situations on a full-ring table but is a monster when playing heads up.

Heads Up
Heads-up, it’s hammer time.

7. Deals: Don’t Get Ripped Off

Very often during the final table the remaining players will try to make a deal to split the remaining prize money.

If you’re an inexperienced player your opponents will most likely try to make an offer way below the value of your chips. They’ll hope you’re too scared to keep playing without the assurance of a deal.

Normally you should politely reject those offers. Your opponents will usually moan and groan a bit, threaten to keep on playing without a deal, but will eventually accept a counter offer.

The rule of thumb is: A deal which goes by the Independent Chip Model (ICM) numbers is a decent deal for every player. You should not accept much less than that but also not demand much more than that.



The Jesse Capps Poker Vlog – I Wish I Had Jesse's Girl (Episode 2)

After falling on hard times, I find some light in the fact that I got myself a girlfriend. We adventure around the Promenade by the Linq and ride on the High Roller. Then I go play the first tournament of the Vlog. A Chowaha tournament at a fun series called Embargo at Binions in downtown Las Vegas (details to be included). Capped by some Capps Recaps of a session played at Treasure Island.

For all news poker go to:


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Jesse’s Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFmB9BynRy3rzRdiNKEkeQw

Snapchat: jessejcapps

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Come play at the Bellagio where I Deal!

Special Thank you- My parents for getting me into poker and teaching me how to play. The Bellagio for hooking me up with a job in a time of need. All my friends that have been with me for the good times and the bad. for the opportunity to be able to do this Vlog.

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So THAT Happened: Alec Torelli Versus Everyone

Sasha Salinger examines this week’s most talked about poker news stories. Joe Ingram v. Alec Torelli. Doug Polk v. Alec Torelli. Alec Torelli v. Alec Torelli. Alec Torelli came under a LOT of fire this week. Turning to GOOD news, Kristen Bicknell hits a 40 month milestone. And, saving the best for last, two good guys hit their $150K prop bet.
This post is sponsored by Global Poker. Play today at GlobalPoker.com and see why Global Poker is the fastest growing poker site for US players! Global Poker is available to players in the United States and Canada.

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Starting Over- The Jesse Capps Poker Vlog (Episode 1)

Whats up guys! I’m Jesse Capps. I am a poker player/fun ambassador. I had a fun filled poker circuit career. Check out how it played out for me and the new adventures that await as I try to come back to the poker world and try to bring the fun back with me. In this pilot episode I talk about my poker life, my next steps for my new journey, and I do some strategy talk to get the ball rolling.

For all news poker go to:


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Jesse’s Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFmB9BynRy3rzRdiNKEkeQw
Snapchat: jessejcapps

My Poker stats:



Come play at the Bellagio where I Deal!

Special Thank you- My parents for getting me into poker and teaching me how to play. The Bellagio for hooking me up with a job in a time of need. All my friends that have been with me for the good times and the bad. for the opportunity to be able to do this Vlog.

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Beginner's Guide to 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball Poker

2-7 Triple Draw – long an under-appreciated gem among poker variations – is finally seeing its moment in the sun.

The nosebleed action has re-gathered at the 2-7 tables and poker’s stars are diving in full force, be it Gus Hansen, Phil Galfond, Phil Ivey, Viktor Blom, Niklas Heinecker or Sebastian Ruthenberg.

Since the game is on the lips of everyone in the poker scene these days PokerZeit’s Rainer Vollmar introduces you to this action-packed game and gives you a couple of useful hints for starting out.

Read the basic rules of 2-7 Triple Draw here and read on for a closer look at the betting structure.

Phil Ivey
Everybody’s playing it now; some always have.

By Rainer Vollmar

2-7 Triple Draw is usually played as a fixed-limit game so, just as in Limit Hold’em, there is a small and a big bet. These are twice the blinds and denote the name of the game.

That means in a 50c/$1 game the blinds are 25c/50c and the bets are 50c in the first two betting rounds and $1 in the second two betting rounds.

If you’ve never played limit poker, you might need some time to adjust to the different betting structure.

Every hand is limited to four bets, which dramatically lowers the fold equity.

Another important distinction – you’re looking for the lowest five-card hand possible, not the highest.

Starting Strategy

As in all other poker games two factors are essential for your strategy: position and hand range.

Let’s start out with position. Apart from the information we get from our opponent betting or not, we get added information from the number of cards our opponent draws. This is only the case in draw poker.

This second part of information can be extremely valuable. If your opponent stops drawing (he “stands pat”), it usually means he has a made hand – unless, of course, he’s bluffing.

If, on the other hand, he draws three cards he is far away from a made hand.

To find his proper hand range is a lot more difficult. But your first basic rule should be to never draw more than three cards – two, if possible.

The Final Table
As with most games, position and hand range are key.

These are the top six starting hands:

1) 2-3-4-x-x 2) 2-3-7-x-x 3) 2-3-5-x-x 4) 2-4-5-x-x 5) 2-4-7-x-x 6) 2-5-7-x-x

Which brings us to the second basic rule: Good starting hands have a “2” in them.

Hands with a “3” as the lowest card – like 3-4-7-x-x or 3-5-8-x-x – are playable to steal or defend the blinds.

Of course, the number of players in the hand is also significant.

Be careful with hands that contain a “6”. That’s your third rule. The problem with these hands is you can easily get in trouble by building a straight.

Look at a hand like 3-4-5-6-x. At first glance, this looks like a pretty good hand although it is actually terrible, as both the deuce – the lowest card in a game of triple draw, as the aces are high – and the seven make a straight, which would count against you.

Daniel Negreanu and J.P. Kelly
As Limit master Daniel Negreanu knows, any player drawing to beat you must pay the maximum

Every straight with low cards must contain a six, which is why you should try to avoid this card.


Limit poker is a lot different from other poker variants in several respects. Two of them are high pot odds and low fold equity.

Let’s illustrate what this means in practice:

In a 5oc/$1 game, Player A raises to $1, the small blind folds and the big blind calls. There’s now $2.25 in the pot.

Players draw, the big blind checks and Player A bets. Now the big blind raises to $1 and Player A calls.

There’s now $4.25 in the pot. Players draw again and now the big blind bets out.

Even before the third and last draw Player A gets 5.25:1 pot odds – unthinkable in a No-Limit game.

What this means is that Player A can assess the strength of his hand pretty well and thus decide if a call is correct.

Also the big blind has a lot less fold equity than in a No-Limit game; in other words it’s much harder to bluff.

In practice, you should always bet with your good hands. Any player drawing to beat you must pay the maximum.

Hands at Showdown

The special appeal of 2-7 Triple Draw is contained in the relative value of different hands.

It happens very often that two or more players draw three times so that in the end no player quite knows where he or she stands.

Of course if you hold the nuts – 7-5-4-3-2 offsuit – you do, but then that doesn’t happen very often.

As a general statement you can go with the rule that an eight-high or nine-high hand heads-up is in most cases good enough for a showdown.

Viktor Blom
2-7 has the action to draw the high rollers in.

Of course, a hand like 9-5-4-3-2 is a lot more valuable than a hand like 9-8-7-5-3. On the hand-ranking list for 2-7 Triple Draw, the first nine-high hand is number 19, while the second one is only in 48th position!

Bluff catchers are ten- or jack-high hands – in case your opponent has a hand like 8-7-4-2 and is drawing for a six, five, or three, he will often end up with a high-card hand (queen, king, or ace high) or even a pair, which are both very weak hands.

On the river – or after the third draw, in this case – you are always faced with the question of betting one more time or not.

If you have a monster – 7-5-4-3-2, 7-6-4-3-2, 7-6-5-3-2, 7-6-5-4-2 – you should always bet. If not, this well-known rule of thumb applies: Bet if a worse hand than yours can call you.

If this is not the case, you should switch to check-call mode and hope that your opponent is going to bluff.

A Game of Action – and Luck, Short-Term

These guideline are more than enough for you to start out.

Try to get a little practice in and you’ll soon get a feel for this fashionable poker variant.

Next you’ll be able to start developing strategies on your own, like how to pull a bluff on someone.

2-7 has a lot of action, is fun and depends a lot on luck – short-term. Master it and you can bank on some pretty decent returns.



Beginner Poker Tips from Pros: Anton Wigg Explains Hand Selection in MTTs

Anton Wigg took €50 and turned it into an EPT title and a Sunday Million win.

Do I call, raise or fold? This is the first thought you’ll encounter when playing poker for the first time.

It’s such a paradoxical question because at the heart of it lies simplicity – yet we often fool ourselves into believing it’s so complicated.

If you want to learn to become a better poker player then you must make sure that your foundation is strong. Hand selection is part of that foundation.

It’s the springboard from which all your moves will leap, so I enlisted the help of one of the world’s greatest tournament players, Anton Wigg, to help you build that foundation.

Don’t Play Weak Hands in Early Position

The biggest mistake beginners make when playing poker for the first time is playing too many hands.

It’s a game and you want to be in the thick of the action. A thought that’s compounded by the fact you keep seeing flop combinations you would have smashed and you’ve now convinced yourself there’s always value in those three ever-changing cards.

“The main mistake that beginners make, Wigg says, “is to play weak hands in early position. The net result is a post-flop experience where you are out of position with a weaker holding than a player who is better than you.

“This is especially true before the antes kick in because there isn’t really that much to play for in the middle.”

Hand selection really does depend on a lot of factors and it’s important to remember that poker is fluid and not fixed. There is no “one size fits all” answer in poker.

Adam Levy
Throw away your weak hands in early position.

But when building your foundation as a beginner it does make sense to take this approach until you gain experience.

Build and Use Simple Hand Selection Charts

With this in mind it makes sense to construct some simple hand-selection charts you can refer to when playing. Charts that show you what hands to play and from what position.

Your decisions will vary based on stack sizes and player’s abilities and tendencies, but the hand selection chart is as good a starting point as any.

“Hand selection charts are a great way of learning the pre-flop basics,” Wigg says. “At this point it’s all about getting the foundation of your game solid.

“Being smart about how you get your money into the middle is vital and people are getting very good at this part of their game. The more the game evolves the better people are getting at taking the very minutiae of edges.

“Yet despite using a hand selection chart as a starting point, it’s important to remember that it will only teach you so much,” Wigg adds. “Experience is always the master in these situations, so get involved, have fun and learn from your mistakes.”

So how do we create a hand selection chart? To simplify things it’s best to break hand selection down into table positions: early position, middle position and late position.

Early Position – Don’t Get Caught in Calling-Station Mode

“Opening hands from early position creates vulnerability because you’re going to be making most of your post flop decisions from out of position,” says Wigg. “Given your lack of experience it’s important that you enter post-flop situations with a much stronger hand range than your opponent.

“Make sure your game is pretty tight from this position, unless your table gives you reason to deviate away from this strategy. You want to make your post-flop decisions as simple as possible so play hands like:

Keep your post-flop decisions simple, Wigg says. (Photo” PokerStars blog).

AA-88 KQs KJs and QJs AK-AQo ATs

“The basic rules are to only open strong hands so you can get to the flop with a better hand than your opponent, therefore making your decisions nice and simple.

“We have more suited cards in our range because we will have around 5% more equity when we go to the flop, but more importantly we will flop draws much more often and this allows us to play our hands far more aggressively and that turns a higher profit.

“We don’t open all of our pocket pairs because they have very little equity post flop. A beginner will start out with a strategy to just set mine and then get caught in a “calling station” mentality when they miss the board but start believing their hand is good.

“Very often you are proceeding with only two outs and this is not a great strategy. There is also a tendency to try and bluff your way through the hand and this is not the way to keep your approach simple.”

Middle Position – Keep Your Hand Range Tight

“Once again keep your hand range nice and tight,” Wigg says, “to compensate for your lack of experience.

“You can now start to open KTs & QTs if you feel comfortable at this table and your opponents aren’t playing very aggressively, pocket pairs down to fives, KQo and AJo — but the same premise remains as discussed with early position ranges.”

Late Position – Adapt to Your Table, Focus on Strength of Your Range

Always adapt to your table position.

“When opening from late position you have to consider the tendencies of the players in the blinds but this is not as important as focusing on the strength of your range.

“If they are very aggressive then just react by tightening your range a little. Poker is all about adapting to your table and making the best decision possible with the information you have.

“You can now open up all value hands — pocket pairs all the way down to deuces and a lot more suited connectors, things like that. You don’t have that many people to get through from late position so it is less likely that you will run into a big hand.

“If the players in the blinds are very passive and are folding with impunity then just open a wider range. Keep playing with your boundaries until you have a reason to hem them back in again.

“Just remember that poker is not a game where you get points for winning every pot you play in. Focus on playing strong hands and winning the bloated pots,” says Wigg.

Small Blind – Open With Middle Position Range

“The small blind is a very interesting spot to play because if you are just calling you don’t usually have a very good hand and a decent player in the big blind will recognize this.

“If the opener has a wide range and your big blind is switched on then they can take advantage by squeezing a lot and this gives you a difficult decision.

“A lot of players have started to three-bet most of their range from the small blind because if they call they will be out of position for the rest of the hand. It’s important to remember that you will be three-betting for value, so for a beginner there’s nothing wrong with just folding the lower part of your value range in this spot.

If you’re reaching for chips to bluff, your story better make sense.

“You can also mix up your play by flatting (calling) with some stronger hands if you notice the big blind does have a tendency to squeeze much lighter. Most of all do not get attached to the money you have put into the pot. It’s not your money. Consider it as money you have to forfeit each orbit.

“If the action folds around to you in the small blind, and you only have the big blind to get through, then understand how he or she is playing. It’s very tough to give advice in this spot because the game is so dynamic, but a good rule of thumb for the beginner is to open with a middle position type of range until you’re given a reason to do otherwise.”

Defending From the Big Blind – Beware the Raggedy Ace

“When you’re playing pre-ante poker there is very little to defend,” Wigg says. “Once again remember that your job as a beginner is to make your decision as simple as possible and you do this by trying to play in position and getting your opponent to get it in with a weaker hand.

“You don’t achieve these goals by defending with a raggedy ace from the big blind. If, for example, you defend with A2o and hit an ace … what are you going to do next?”

Bluffing – Keep Things Simple

“When attempting to bluff, the beginner player should have good reason for it and be able to tell a convincing story,” Wigg says. “Just keep things simple.”

Three-Betting – Build the Pot with Your Strongest Hands

“Your only focus when three betting is to bloat the pot with your strongest hands. Keep things simple.

“If someone is opening super wide, however, you do have to open your three-betting range but pay particular attention to the position of the opener.

“Remember that if the raise comes from early position and you three-bet from middle position you could still have 5-6 players to get through.

“If you’re three-betting as a bluff a good stack to focus on is between 22-26BB because your move handicaps the opener. Say he opens to 2BBs and you three bet to 5BBs he really can’t do anything other than shove or fold.

Stick to the plan and good things happen. (Photo: PokerStars blog).

“He has to risk 25BB to win 8BB and he has to be successful a high percentage of the time to make a profit,” says Wigg.

Blind Stealing and Antes – It’s Basic Math

“Always keep a lookout for stack sizes between 5 and 18BB. If there are a lot of these stack sizes behind you then tighten your range as they will be looking for spots to move all-in.

“You can’t bleed by open/folding, you need to raise and call it off and make a profit like that.

“When the antes have kicked in it’s important to be more aggressive from late position so open a wider range to keep afloat. It’s basic math.

“You only have to steal the blinds and antes once an orbit to keep the same stack size. So look for that spot and exploit it. It’s all about surviving whilst increasing your stack.”

Limpers – Learn to Become the Aggresor

“One of the important lessons in poker is to learn to become the aggressor. If someone is limping in front of you, then raise,” Wigg says.

“You need a very good reason to limp behind, so always be thinking ‘why am I limping in this spot?’ Your opponent should be making all of the tough decisions – not you.”



PokerListings and BlackRain79 Team Up to Help You Beat Micro-Stakes

Get ready for PokerListings and BlackRain79 to give you a crash-course on beating the micro-stakes.

The micro-stakes should be the easiest games to beat, but a lot of players actually struggle to show a profit at the lowest stakes online.

While it’s important to learn poker theory and work vigilantly on your game to compete at the higher levels, it’s paramount to understand and adjust to the playing style of your opponents.

And as far as your opponents go, the micro-stakes are a totally different world.

Yes, Players Are Getting Better. But …

Yes, players are getting better over the last few years. But at the micro-stakes there are still thousands and thousands (and thousands) of beginners that are almost oblivious to good poker strategy.

The irony of course is that you apply a lot of poker theory or second- or third-level poker thinking to the games at this level, chances are good you won’t actually win at the micro-stakes.

Take, for example, the famous “open-ended straight draw.” At the higher limits this can be a nice hand to semi-bluff with.

But if you’re playing an opponent who can’t fold, say, middle pair with a weak kicker, you might want to reconsider building a pot when you’re actually an underdog with no fold equity.

Advanced poker tactics like semi-bluffing are indispensable but they’re only useful against opponents who can actually fold.

“Fish” are Still the Foundation of a Healthy Poker Bankroll

If you’ve read a round a bit on the poker forums or played at all online you’ve surely heard people say/type, “I can’t play against fish” or “I need to play where they respect my raises.”

Fish trophy wallaper
Especially at the micro-stakes, most of your profits will come from fish.

And sure, it can be frustrating when a fish calls your 4-bet bluff and wins with a hand he should theoretically never have called with.

But the reality is you want this to be the case. Fish are ALWAYS the most profitable players you can play against. These players are the foundation of a healthy poker ecosystem.

If you can’t play against these type of players, it might be time to look in the mirror and ask yourself whether these so-called fish are the problem or if you’re actually forgetting the single most important thing in poker: anticipating the play of your opponents.

If you’re still in the “I can’t play against fish” phase, this is the moment you can change your attitude and, with our help, learn to crush the micro-stakes.

Meet Mr. Micro-Stakes: Nathan “BlackRain79” Williams

So, does an effective “super system” to beat the micro-stakes in poker already exist?

More or less, yes. Nathan Williams — aka BlackRain79 — has played millions of hands at the micro-stakes and beat the games at the highest win-rate in the history of online poker.

In 2012 his game-changing ebook Crushing the Microstakes came out and helped a ton of players climb through the micro-stakes much faster.

Not only that, he also helped players think about their micro-stakes game in an entirely new way.

Our Basic Guide to Beating the Micro-Stakes

Nathan Williams 2
Nathan Williams has played millions of hands of micro-stakes online.

Since BlackRain79 has already written the comprehensive 253-page micro-stakes “bible” it wouldn’t be much added value to just re-hash all of his strategies here.

Especially since his ebook, which you can buy here, only costs $19.95.

Buying it is a no-brainer if your goal is to beat the micro-stakes. You are guaranteed to earn that money back and plenty more if you apply the stuff from his e-book.

To complement his great book – and preview some of the new strategies you’ll find in Williams’ upcoming sequel,Crushing the Micro-Stakes 2 – in the coming weeks we’re going to publish a basic framework for pre-flop and post-flop strategy in the micro-stakes based on the ebook from BlackRain79.

We’re also going to provide some added value in an ongoing Q&A and hand analysis series with BlackRain 79 himself.

Ask BlackRain79: Send in Your Questions and Hands!

Every month BlackRain79 will answer questions and analyze a few hands submitted by PokerListings readers.

If you have doubts about certain hands you’ve played or how to maximize your profit in the micro-stakes, this is your chance to ask the micro-stakes master himself.

Theory is one thing, but putting that theory into practice is another thing altogether!

Keep an eye on our news section for more info on how to submit your questions.

Before we start with our series we’ve also posted an interview with BlackRain79 so you’ll have a better picture of the person behind the name, his achievements, and what you can expect in Crushing the Microstakes 2.



Beginner Poker Tips from Pros: Jared Tendler Reins In Poker Anxiety

Brett Richey trying to rein in his poker anxiety.

Last night I played in a £10 rebuy tournament in my local pub and watched with fun, amusement and a tinge of awkwardness as my good friend bought in 21 times during the rebuy period.

Was he unlucky? Did he have a bad beat story (or 21 of them) to tell?

Not really. He had lost it.

It’s one of the common problems in the lower levels of the game and something that will likely cost you more money than any technical leak you may have.

So I enlisted the help of a man who knows more about tilt than Ray Kroc knows about making hamburgers: the author of The Mental Game of Poker and The Mental Game of Poker 2, Jared Tendler.

On Variance

“So many people come into poker having previously experienced wins and losses in sport, chess, or many other forms of competition,” Tendler says, “where the playing field is more equal.

“In poker you have to recognize that there’s another entity besides you and your opponents that will dictate results.”

poker golf
In golf it’s called the “rub of the green.”

“In golf it’s called the ‘rub of the green’ and in poker we know it as ‘variance.’ To pinch a golfing analogy, variance in poker is like hitting a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway and continually watching it bounce out of bounds.

“It’s like having somebody that is truly insane, someone who has no perspective in reality, influencing results. And if you don’t understand that entity you will be the one who is driven insane.”

So with a better view of what variance is, what can beginners do to harness that awareness so that its power doesn’t influence results beyond what it already will?

“The best way for beginners to befriend variance,” Tendler says, “is to look at their results and pinpoint instances where they were favorites and lost.”

Record and Review

There’s an old adage that says, ‘You Cannot Manage What You Cannot Measure.’ If you want to improve your game then you need to start recording your hands and spending enough time reviewing your play.

“Review the specific instances where you had an advantage,” Tendler says, “that was eliminated by factors that neither you nor your opponent controlled.

Philippe Jouveau
“You have to embrace the reality of losing.”

“You are mostly going to see this when you are all-in. So, if you are ahead at any point when you are all-in, and you lose, then you got unlucky and that result was entirely down to variance.

“Then you have to look at the other side of that. What about the instances where you were behind and got lucky?”

With that understanding of how I have no control over variance, and therefore that it has nothing to do with my level of skill, what other measures can I use to help me identify skill deficiencies in my game?

“One measure that players use a lot is “all-in EV (Expected Value”) and they use it to determine how lucky or unlucky they are. However, this is just a starting point.

“Many seasoned players make the mistake of placing all of their eggs into this particular basket. They over use all-in EV as a pure measure of how they are running and this is not true.”

Learn to Lose

“There are a lot of people who hate to lose,” Tendler says. “As a poker player your job is to get really good at losing because it’s going to happen a lot.

“You have to embrace the reality of losing. This doesn’t mean you are accepting it without doing anything about it because this is a mistake. It’s being too passive.

“But review your play to get a view on whether you have made the best decision or not, and begin to focus more of your energy on quality decision-making relating to your game and less on pureness of your results, because results can be so influenced by luck.”

What About Monetary Measures?

“It’s one measure and it’s an important measure,” Tendler says, “so we don’t take it away or disregard it. But we are also not going to overestimate or overvalue it.

“Instead, I would suggest reviewing any hand that you were confused over or found really tough. If you haven’t made a decision in the first 10-15 seconds playing online then you need to review that hand because there’s something to learn.

“Even if you got the hand right there’s still something to look at to encourage the learning.”

Tendler: “Be self-aware and then start working on those issues.”

Managing Anxiety

“Another big area for beginners to be aware about is anxiety,” says Tendler.

“This concept is still not talked about enough in poker and one of the reasons for this is so many people don’t relate to anxiety as well as they should.

“For example when your mind goes blank, you can’t think or your thinking is just so basic – it’s important to know that this is anxiety.”

Once you’ve recognized anxiety what are the solutions to prevent it from injuring your game?

“It depends what’s causing the anxiety,” says Tendler. “Is it a fear of failure? A fear of making mistakes? A fear of looking stupid?

“Look inward. Be true to yourself. Be self-aware and then start working on those issues.

“The beginner has an advantage because in the beginning the anxieties are very small. When you address small stuff when it’s small you’ll be able to avoid long-term problems and make your progress a lot more efficient without some of the bigger ups and downs.

“It’s not all bad though. Anxiety is the twin cousin to excitement. So anxiety, at low levels, can be the fuel to really power on at a higher level.

“If you look at the most elite competitions in poker and sport, that anxiety, and that nervousness and excitement, can all blend together with a bit of adrenaline to allow you to perform at levels that you were never previously allowed to do.

“So anxiety is not a bad thing if it’s not present in excessive levels. It’s easier to be honest with yourself when you know that avoidance is only going to make your situation worse.

mental game tendler
“If you’ve had issues before in other walks of life then they are likely to pop up again in poker.”

“There is no solution that has ever come from pure avoidance. More and more of my clients come to me having been blocking out problems for so long and eventually they blow up in their face.

“They didn’t realize that by blocking the smaller anxiety issues out, or not recognizing them, they would create bigger problems further down the line.”

So Self-Awareness is the Key?

“Absolutely,” Tendler says. “Raise awareness about how you are feeling and why you’re doing everything you are doing. Don’t stop thinking.

“This is one of the clearest ways where my book can come in handy. Beginners can read the book for building awareness.

“It gives them a primer for issues they don’t even have yet. And possibly they can even prevent them.

“It can also be a great idea to look back into their own personal history: sport, relationships, previous jobs – has anxiety been present?

“If you’ve had issues before in other walks of life then they are likely to pop up again in poker if you’ve not resolved them.”



How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Pre-Flop Strategy Pt. 1

PokerListings.com and Microstakes master Nathan “BlackRain79″ Williams have teamed up to produce the definitive series on beating the microstakes for the beginner poker player.

Combining the best general knowledge about microstakes poker strategy, in-depth concepts from BlackRain’s groundbreaking book, Crushing the Microstakes, and an ongoing Q&A/hand analysis this is the ideal tool to learn how to beat poker’s lowest levels.


If you’ve got a question or a hand for BlackRain to analyze, drop a note in the comments on any of the articles in the series or email webmaster (at) pokerlistings.com. Analysis and answers will appear every month.

By Paul Verheij

Beating poker’s micro-stakes starts with rock-solid strategy before the flop. Playing the right hands before the flop will result in much easier decisions on later streets.

In this two-part article we’ll show you how to build that solid foundation.

Leave Your Ego and Fancy Plays at the Door

Before we start with the pre-flop guidelines it’s important to consider exactly what our objectives are and how we can achieve them.

$10K Seven Card Stud
Key to success is max value from big hands.

The micro-stakes are all about getting value with your good hands and folding hands in situations where you can only win a small pot or, if things go wrong, lose a big pot.

This sounds simple. And the good news is that it actually is when you follow a few guidelines and leave your ego and fancy plays where they belong: at the door.

The micro-stakes aren’t limits where you want to outplay your opponents. They aren’t about finding every +EV situation. They’re actually quite the opposite.

Your goal isn’t to outplay your opponent but get maximum value from the right opponents. And instead of seeking every +EV situation you only choose the situations that offer the most value.

Take Initiative, Have Position

The good news is that the micro-stakes do offer the luxury of a lot of bad players and therefore a lot of profitable situations.

Why try to exploit small edges (which lead to high variance) when you can wait for very profitable situations that come around often, lead to a high-win rate and lower variance?

To do this our pre-flop foundation starts with:


Taking the initiative Being in position

Before we start with hand-selection guidelines let’s first discuss what your main objectives should be.

Betting gives you two ways to win.

Take Initiative

Poker isn’t all about having the best hand at showdown. In reality the player with the best hand doesn’t always win the money.

More often than not both players won’t hit a good hand and in those cases you should ask yourself who would probably win the pot.

That player? The one who bets. Often the other player, who also don’t have a good hand, will fold in the face of aggression.

This is why taking initiative – meaning you are the one betting/raising instead of calling (passive) – is essential.

By betting pre-flop you show strength and in the case another playing calls there’s a greater chance you can win the pot on a later street by betting again.

The biggest advantage of having initiative is that you can win a pot in two ways:

• By having the best hand at showdown

• By making your opponent fold.

Getting your opponent to fold is easier said then done. When your opponent does have a reasonable hand he probably won’t fold and this is especially true at the micro-stakes.

How do you know if your opponent has a reasonable hand? Well, you’ll never know for sure but, as with a lot of things in poker, you want the odds in your favor.

Let’s take a simple example in which your opponent has to act first. In situation 1, he bets. In situation 2, he checks. In which case does he probably have a reasonable hand?

In situation 1, and this especially counts for the micro-stakes, betting often means strength. And in situation 2, checking means weak.

Players thinking this through already recognize the other important factor: Your opponent should be the one acting first.

Final table
Position is power.

Play in Position

The biggest advantage from “having position” is that you’re the one with the most information before having to act.

Play at the micro-stakes level is often very straightforward so it often is what it seems. Checking does mean weak and betting means strong.

Exceptions are the rule, of course, but exceptions are not where the money comes from.

The Power of Initiative and Position

As said, the player with the best hand doesn’t always win money. In poker it’s your goal to merely the odds in your favor.

By taking initiative and having position you give yourself the maximum chance to win the pot by not only relying on your hand strength but also giving yourself an option to win the pot if you don’t hit a good hand.

Not hitting a hand is very common for both you and your opponent(s), so by only following these two guidelines you set yourself up to win a lot of “dead money.”

Besides the dead money you’ll also make your post-flop game much easier — and post-flop is where the real money (big pots) are won or lost.

Starting Hand Selection

Now that you know the most important factors to micro-stakes success it’s time to outline some rough guidelines for pre-flop hand selection.

Much of the material below is found in more detail in BlackRain79’s e-book Crushing the Microstakes (buy it here.). Specifically the hand-range charts below are taken from the book, but most of the pre-flop information is generally accepted micro-stakes strategy.

Some simple points to remember:

1. Raise to gain initiative

Always raise when you enter the pot first. When you’re not the first player to enter the pot, re-raise (3-bet) most of the time when you decide to play a hand.

2. Try to play hands in position post-flop

Hand strength is important.

Always know how close you are to the dealer button (the best position in poker). How close you are to the button will likely determine whether you’ll have position post-flop.

3. Hand strength is important

When you don’t have position, or at least chances are good you won’t have position (such as in early and middle position) you’ll need to rely more on straight-up hand strength.

4. Chances someone else has a big hand

We know we can win the pot more easily when in position but we also need to consider the odds someone else has a big hand.

When there aren’t many players sitting behind you the chance one of those players has a good hand is quite small compared to when you’re in early position. In early position the chance is much bigger that someone else behind you has a big hand.

5. Balance your range

Another factor, although less important at the micro-stakes, is balancing your range.

Assuming you only play hands like AA and KK, even less competent players will notice you only play these hands and will fold or play their hands knowing exactly what you have.

That’s why we play a range of hands — hands that are good enough to play but that leave our opponents guessing about which exact hand we have.

Play Tight, Loosen Up Closer to the Button

Early and Middle Position

It should be clear that you don’t play many hands from early and middle position. There are still lots of players to act after you so chances someone else has a big hand are strong

Final table
How you play changes as your position does.

You also probably won’t have position post-flop. You’ll mostly rely on hand strength so you’ll only play the top of our range in these positions.

Hijack (Two seats before the button)

Although the Hijack is also middle position it’s a bit “in between.” Only the cut-off (one before the button, the button and the blinds are still to play so chances there’s a big hand out there are not that big.

After the flop only the cut-off and button would have position on you if they play the hand,

That doesn’t mean we can play weak hands, but considerably more hands compared to early position and MP1 and MP2.

Cut-Off and Button

The cut-off and button positions are the real money makers in poker — especially the button.

Chances are low someone else after you will wake up with a big hand and with the button you’ll always have position after the flop.

Does this mean you can play every hand from this position? No, but still roughly three times as many hands compared to early position.

There is a small difference between the hand ranges you should from the cut-off and the button.

Sitting in cut-off there’s still a chance the button will also enter the pot which means you won’t have position throughout the hand.

Hand Selection Chart

Now that you know the rough guidelines for hand selection with regards to your position, it’s time to determine exactly what hands you should play from each position.

For this section we’ll draw entirely from Crushing the Microstakes as it explains it perfectly.

It’s also important to realize that these are just guidelines. You don’t have to play all of these hands if you don’t feel comfortable.

Also remember: Money you haven’t lost is also money you’ve won…

First in (if no one has entered the pot before you)

Early position (UTG/UTG+1 and UTG +2):

• 22+ (22 and higher pairs, in this case: 22,33,44,55,66,77,88,99,TT,JJ,QQ,KK and AA)

• AQs+ (AQ suited and higher, in this case AK suited)

• AQo+ (AQ unsuited and higher, in this case AK unsuited)

MP1 & MP2:

• 22+,

• AJs+, KQs

• AJo+, KQo


• 22+

• A8s+, KJs+, QJs, 78s+

• ATo+, KJo+, QJo+


• 22+

• A2s+, K8s+, Q9s+, J8s+, 56s+, 57s+

• A2o+, K8o+, Q9o+, J8o+


• 22+

• A2s+, K2s+, Q7s+, J8s+, 56s+, 57s+, 47s+

• A2o+, K2o+, Q7o+, J8o+, T8o+


• 22+

• A9s+, KJs+, QJs, 78s

• A9o+, KJo+, QJo


• 22+

• A9s+, KJs+, QJs, 78s

• A9o+, KJo+, Qjo

Raise-Size First In:

A standard raise size from most positions is 4x the big blind. Only when in late position (CO and BTN) should you raise 3x the big blind.

Play when there are limpers

The same ranges count for when there are limpers (callers) in front of you. When there are limpers in front of you this doesn’t mean you should limp behind. It’s still better to raise to take the initiative.

The only adjustment you should make is to not play the bottom (lowest part) of your range. Reason for this is the chances are high the limper(s) will still call your pre-flop raise.

Raise size when there are limpers:

Stick to standard raise sizes more often than not.

When there are limpers and you’re in position you should raise 4x the big blind plus 1 big blind per limper.

When there are limpers and you’re out of position you should raise 4x the big blind plus 1 big blind per limper, but also add another big blind since you have the disadvantage of playing out of position.

When someone else raises first

In this case you have three options: re-raise (3-bet), call or fold.

Before we discuss the different options, remember the importance of having initiative. You want to 3-bet or fold much more than you call since calling is a passive play that gives the advantage back to your opponents.

There are, however, situations where calling is the best option.

In Part 2 of our Microstakes Pre-Flop Strategy Guide we’ll look at those exceptions along with an in-depth look at when, how and how much to 3-bet.

How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Pre-Flop Strategy Part 2 How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Post-Flop Strategy Part 1 How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Post-Flop Strategy Part 2

Questions and/or hands for analysis are welcome in the comments below. Purchase BlackRain79’s groundbreaking book Crushing the Microstakes right here.



How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Pre-Flop Strategy Pt. 2

Combining the best general knowledge about microstakes poker strategy, in-depth concepts from Nathan “BlackRain79″ Williams’ groundbreaking book and an ongoing Q&A/hand analysis, this is the ideal tool to learn how to beat poker’s lowest levels.

If you’ve got a question or a hand for BlackRain to analyze, drop a note in the comments on any of the articles in the series or email webmaster (at) pokerlistings.com. Analysis and answers will appear every month.

In Part 1 of our Microstakes Pre-Flop guide we left off discussing some exceptions to raising in response to a raise before you.

Catch up with Part 1 here; on to the exceptions.

By Paul Verheij

When someone else raises first pre-flop you have three options: re-raise (3-bet), call or fold

You want to 3-bet or fold much more than you call, but there are situations where calling is the best option.

As BlackRain79 explains perfectly in his book, Crushing the Microstakes, three particular exceptions are important:

When you have a pocket pair and you want to set mine. Sets are a big moneymaker at the microstakes but 3-betting with small and mid pocket pairs is often not ideal, since we can’t call a 4-bet and don’t hit the flop often enough when we get a call.

When you have a hand good enough to call but will lose value in case of a 3-bet. Although you’ll often 3-bet with hands such as A-K or J-J, there are situations where this isn’t the optimal play.

Huge Field
Consider your opponents at all times.

Take for example a nit who opens from early position. His range is so strong that in case of a 3-bet he’ll fold his hands we want to play against and he continues with hands we’ll be the underdog against.

When you have a speculative hand and a fish has entered the pot. First of all, in this situation there is one “must” before you even consider calling: You must have position.

Playing against a fish can be very lucrative with hands such as suited connectors, suited aces and broadway hands, but you want to keep the pot small and play in position.

In almost every other situation we should always choose to 3-bet or fold. Before making that decision we should first consider a few things.

1. Position of the Raiser

The first thing to do is note the position of the original raiser.

This is important to make an estimation of the range of your opponent. In general a raise from early position means more strength compared to a raise from late position. Just look at our own play to understand this.

In general we should play tighter against an early position raiser compared to a late-position raiser.

2. What’s the Raiser’s Playing Style?

Besides position we can also look at the statistics from the original raiser — or when you don’t play with a HUD, the image of the raiser.

It’s obvious we should give a tight player who raises from early position more credit for a strong range then a fish who plays almost every hand.

To profile your opponent you should try to answer these questions:

What is his likely open-raising range? Does he often fold to a 3-bet? What will be his 4-betting range? Does he often fold to a continuation bet? Is he aggressive post-flop?

Elisabeth Hille
Only 3-bet for value.

3. Will You Have Position Post-Flop?

As you’ve learned by now, playing in position offers multiple advantages like acting last in every betting round, being able to put pressure on your opponent  and extracting value, so it’s important to know whether you’ll be in position post-flop.

Considering the factors above you know can estimate the range of your opponent and your situation post-flop.

Only 3-Bet for Value!

This is a very critical and distinct point for microstakes poker that BlackRain also makes clear in his book.

There’s no use 3-betting fancy hands as you’ll only get yourself into unnessecary trouble spots.

Yes, at higher limits you should balance your ranges with 3-bets and 4-bets, but at the microstakes level this isn’t the case. 

A 3-bet should almost always be for value. If it isn’t then folding is almost always the best option.

Note: With regards to 3-betting for value you should use Pokerstove to get an idea of with which hands you can 3-bet for value against your opponent. Fill in his range in Pokerstove and look at the equity from your hand against the hand range of your opponent. Do this several times and you will have a better idea of your equity against different ranges.

An example is a raise from UTG from a nit. Use PokerStove and you will see that only AA and KK are actually worth a 3-bet. Look back to the exceptions for calling and then you will find out why 3-betting with a hand like AK isn’t smart against this range. On the other hand AK would definitely be a value 3-bet against a loose player who raises from the button and the same counts when you have JJ in this situation.

In general you can always 3-bet for value with the top of your range, so hands like QQ+ and AK. 

Playability in Case of a 3-Bet

James Mackey
Be very picky about 3-betting light.

Besides your equity against the range of your opponent you should also look at the playability of your hand. Ideal would be of course sitting in position since you are in control.

Being out of position against an aggressive player who calls your 3-bet a lot and plays agressive post-flop, it might not be a smart plan to 3-bet with a hand like J-J when you wouldn’t feel comfortable playing the hand post-flop.

Remember, pre-flop is the moment to lay a foundation for your post-flop game so try to always think ahead with regards to the playability of a hand in combination with position and the type of opponent.

If you think you will get into a trouble spot then it might be better to call instead so you keep the pot small. Sometimes it’s even better to fold a hand if the other two options don’t feel comfortable.

Do We 3-Bet Light At All?

Three-betting without a strong hand is called “light” 3-betting. At higher limits this should be in your arsenal but this is not the case at the microstakes.

Remember: If you only 3-bet for value at the microstakes level you will do fine.

There are situations where light 3-betting can be profitable, but there are some requirements:

You have to be in position Your opponent should often fold to a 3-bet and often fold to a continuation bet

When you 3-bet light you mostly rely on fold equity, so to maximize your fold equity the situation needs to fit the above-mentioned requirements.

Don’t get fancy in the microstakes when it comes to 3-betting light. Three-betting light can be a nice addition, as long as you pick the correct spots, so you can balance your 3-betting range a bit. 

Which Hands Can You 3-Bet Light With?

Besides the above requirements you can also 3-bet light with hands that won’t get you into problems post-flop.

Assume you 3-bet light with a hand like A-4s and the flop comes A-7-T. You make a continuation bet and your opponent raises.

This is a tough spot for a lot of beginners since they have top pair in a relatively big pot. Although it is a clear fold, if you have trouble folding this hand you shouldn’t be even playing this hand.

Chips 2
When you’re in position you should raise 3x the original raise.

The same counts for easily dominated hands in 3-bet pots like K-J, A-T etc.

If these hands are hard for you to fold as well you’d be safer to 3-bet light with suited connectors (examples of suited connectors are 98s, 87s and 76s). With these type of hands you don’t hit the flop often and it’s way easier to fold in the face of aggression from your oppontents.

Another advantage is that when you do hit the flop you often win a big pot since your opponent will have trouble putting you on those kind of hands.

If you don’t have trouble laying down your hand post-flop in case of agression you could 3-bet light with hands like high cards, suited aces and suited connectors.

Logically you can also count small to mid pocket pairs to this category but why this isn’t the case you can read above in the exceptions to call a raise.

Raise Size in Case of a 3-Bet

In this case we first look if you have position or not.

When you’re in position you should raise 3x the original raise and when you’re sitting out of position you should raise 4x the original raise. 

When Your Opponent 3-Bets

If you open-raised and your opponent 3-bets the play is almost always very straight forward in the microstakes. In most cases a fold will be the best option.

First of all, you don’t have initiative in case of a call so you are actually playing hit-or-fold in this case. Most of the time you won’t hit a good flop, which will result in a fold on the flop.

Even if you do hit this doesn’t mean you will get paid off. Your opponent won’t automatically invest his whole stack.

Often he will fold to agression when he has nothing, so these moments don’t make-up all the small losses of 10-12bb.

Often you’ll also be playing out of position, which is really a handicap as you’ve learned. You’re in fact playing clueless while your opponent has all the information.

Opportunities come along a lot at the microstakes so don’t focus on small edges

Besides that, it’s quite hard to get value when you hit the flop when you’re out of position.

In case of hands like AA and KK it will be an easy 4-bet/all-in.

Hands with which you could call a 3-bet are player/situation dependent. It speaks for itself that you can call with more hands against a loose 3-bettor who also plays passively post-flop compared to a tight 3-bettor who plays agressively post-flop.

You should therefore consider position, the tendencies/stats of your opponent, but also the playability of a hand. You might be ahead of the range of your opponent but how much is that worth when you’re out of position with a hand like 88 on a A-J-6 flop?

Also in this case it is important to think ahead and, in case of doubt, you can fold. Remember, opportunities come along a lot on the microstakes so why exploit small edges with the danger of getting into trouble spots?

Raise size in case of a 4-bet

When your opponent 3-bets and you want to 4-bet you should raise his original 3-bet 2.5x-3x. Aim for the higher if you suspect your opponent will give action.

When your opponent 4-bets

When your opponent 4-bets after your 3-bet then only play further (go all-in) with AA and KK. One exception might be going all-in with KK against a complete nit who will only 4-bet/all-in with AA.

You might think QQ is also a candidate against certain opponents but don’t forget that you’ll only have 53% equity against a loose 4-betting range like TT+,AQs+,AKo.

When this range is even tighter (often the case), your equity drops even further. Yes, there are situations where a call might be correct based on pot odds/equity. But it still isn’t worth it at the microstakes where you can simply wait for bigger edges instead of taking the high-variance route.

Raise size 5-bet/all-in

When your opponent 4-bets you and you want to play the hand further, if you have AA and KK then you can just go all-in.


jack salter 3
It might not be cool to play ABC poker, but it works.

Play at the microstakes level is totally different compared to higher stakes. And s should your strategy be.

It might not be cool to play ABC poker and leave a lot of +EV situations on the table but you’re not playing to boost your ego. Your goal is to a achieve a high win rate, limit variance and climb the limits as fast as possible.

You need a strategy which achieves these goals.

In this article we’ve outlined a decent pre-flop strategy for the microstakes. Of course not every pot will be decided pre-flop, but with a decent pre-flop game you’re at the same time laying a good foundation to have easier decisions on later streets.

The most important factors when considering pre-flop play are:

Position Having initiative Hand strength Playability Assesment of your opponents

By considering all these factors before you decide to play a hand and/or how to proceed, you will make far better decisions compared to most of your opponents at the microstakes.

And this is what poker is about: Having an edge on your opponents!

If you’ve got a question or a hand for BlackRain to analyze, drop a note in the comments on any of the articles in the series or email webmaster (at) pokerlistings.com. Analysis and answers will appear every month.

How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Pre-Flop Strategy Pt. 1 How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Post-Flop Strategy Pt. 1 How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Post-Flop Strategy Pt. 2



Don't Let The Peter Principle Torpedo Your Poker Career

Once you’ve reached the top and failed, what next?

To admit to yourself, once you’ve reached a certain level in poker, that you can’t keep up with the players around you is essential to keep from going broke or quitting the game.

By Rainer Vollmar

The desire to maximize profit does not only apply to poker players. It is also present in economy, politics and hundreds of other fields.

Everywhere and in every business people tend to reach, and sometimes breach, their limits.

The End of the Cul-de-Sac

More than 40 years ago Canadian scientists Laurence J. Peter and William Hull developed what’s now called “The Peter Principle.”

The principle states that in company hierarchies good employees tend to be promoted until they reach their “level of incompetence.”

peter principle
Why things always go wrong.

Once they’ve reached that level above where their talents/competence might be best suited, that’s where they stay even though they are “not valuable” anymore.

As you can’t be downgraded in modern hierarchies that employee now remains in a position where he can’t fulfill his tasks. The high point of his career is also the end of a cul-de-sac.

This whole system can only stay operable because employees reach that last stage at different times. The work of the company is done by the employees who haven’t reached their incompetence level yet.

We can see examples of this everywhere in the public sphere — sometimes even in our direct environment.

High-Limit Games Strewn With Overwhelmed Players

Management people all over the world consider the Peter Principle as highly valuable tool and theory. The book itself has been translated into numerous languages and is still published today.

Now what does all this have to do with poker? Transfer the principle to poker and what you get is higher-limit games strewn with overwhelmed players.

Let’s take an example. Player A is young, ambitious and talented. He practices a lot on lower limits and he climbs up slowly but surely.

He also practices strict bankroll management because he is smart and he wants to make it to the nosebleed stakes.

His win rate of BB/100 hands sinks the higher he plays, but that doesn’t deter him at all.

Garish Hoody
Thousands of (ex-)players have hit their threshold and quit.

Finally he turns the high-stakes corner and he finds it hard to get by. He’s not a quitter, though, so he keeps working on his game with plans to eventually beat the current level.

After about 200,000 hands he realizes the competition is too strong and he’s not competent enough to beat it. He cashes out his greatly diminished bankroll and quits poker.

There are thousands of (ex-)players like this. In modern Western civilization faster, higher, further is a prevalent slogan and they stagnation is often equated with regression.

This is why our hero tried to climb up to the highest stakes possible. When he finally noticed where he’d ended up, it was too late.

As opposed to high-profile managers, however, a poker player can always call it quits without losing his reputation.

Some people might have noticed our Player A if he’d returned to the lower limits, but this would all have happened within the anonymity of the internet.

Our hero became a victim of the Peter Principle.

Is This the Story of Viktor Blom?

Viktor Blom
Everybody has a limit.

Does this example not remind you of Viktor “Isildur1” Blom?

His promotional value for the industry is indisputable but his results are ultimately negative. Since the beginning of 2013 Blom is down over $5 million on Full Tilt Poker despite several notable upswings mixed in.

Before he became famous Blom worked his way up the limits several times until he reached his breaking point and lost all his money (as much as $7m in just a few months of play).

Every poker player should be aware of the Peter Principle. Even if doesn’t match up with poker 100% it still provides valuable insight.

Everybody has a limit. But to know your limit in poker is is particularly hard because of the additional factor of variance, as it can lead you to become overly self-confident.

If you go on a run you might think you’re stronger than you really are. If you lose you might tend to call it just bad luck.

Apart from that there are new, hungry youngsters every day and the game is constantly changing. Even players who stayed afloat at a high level for a long time might one day be overwhelmed because they are overtaken by new players.

To admit to yourself that you can’t keep up with certain players is essential to keep you from going broke in poker.

If you don’t succeed in avoiding the pitfalls of the Peter Principle, you might end up just like our anonymous hero.



Poker Tips from Pros: Mat Frankland Solves 10 Post-Flop Dilemmas

Mat Frankland (Photo: Ivey Poker)

In Texas Hold’em, what really constitutes a “scary” flop?

Well, to a beginning player, all flops are scary.

So I reached out to IveyPoker Pro Mathew Frankland for some tips to help beginner poker players feel a little bit more comfortable about their post-flop play.

This is what he had to say.

1. How Much Should I Bet?

Mat Frankland: You should always tailor your bet size for a specific reason.

The best advice I would give to a beginner is to make your continuation-bet size the same for almost every situation with the only exception being the stack size of your opponent.

Imagine you’re playing in a cash game and are deep stacked. You have good reason to believe you have the best hand and want to extract as much value from your opponent as you can.

In this instance it would make sense to bet bigger with a view to get all of your opponent’s chips by the time you reach the river. So 70% pot would be a good bet size.

If you’re playing in a poker tournament and stacks are a lot shallower, then you don’t have to bet as big and yet still be able to get the chips into the middle by the time the river comes rushing in.

Why are we betting?

2. Why Are We Betting?

MF: This is a big problem that I continually see with beginners and weak players. They will bet on the flop just because they feel they have to.

There is no thought process. No thinking. You should always be asking yourself, “What am I trying to achieve with this play?”

For example I see people c-bet hands like pocket aces, in position, on a flop of J87ddx. I think checking is the best play in this position and let me explain why.

a) We don’t want to face a raise

If we get raised we can discount most of the pure bluffs from our opponent’s range because the board is so coordinated.

So we’re either going to be up against a strong made hand that we’ll be close to drawing dead against, or a strong draw that has a lot of equity against our hand.

b) Deception

When people see me check back this board it doesn’t exactly scream strength. For this reason I may get one or two streets of bluffing I may not get otherwise.

c) Getting three streets of value is tough

There are exceptions to this rule, where weaker calling stations might call me down with three streets holding a weak jack, but in general if I bet twice here I’m going to be thinking long and hard about betting the river.

So if I’m only going to get two streets of value, why open myself up to getting raised or losing the art of deception?

If I check back then I can still happily get two streets by either calling turn bets or betting myself. I also get more information about my opponent’s hand by seeing what he does on the turn.

3. What Are the Stack Sizes?

MF: We always need to be aware of our stack size and the stack sizes of our opponents. The same hand can play out quite differently depending on how many chips our opponent has.

For instance we raise in the cut-off holding KTo and the button calls. The flop is K76r. Now against a solid player I’m not going to get three streets off a worse hand so I’m going to check this hand because:

a) I want to deceive him about my hand strength and get him to bluff/call the turn and river with weaker hands.

What are the stack sizes?

b) I don’t want to bet twice and then be unsure what to do by the time we reach the river.

However, this all changes if we start the hand with 20 big blinds (bb). Now I might want to bet here because I know he’s going to call with a lot of hands on the flop.

I can move all-in on the turn, giving him a tough decision with his middle pairs, and also block any free shots at hitting draws/two pair combos.

4. What Happens Next? (Think Ahead)

MF: This is the most important concept of flop play. When I’m playing the flop I’ve already evaluated various possible turn and river scenarios in my head.

This helps me immensely because it improves the quality of my flop decision based on the likely scenarios that may present themselves on later streets.

You wouldn’t just make a solitary move in a vacuum whilst playing chess. Why should poker be any different?

5. Who is My Opponent?

MF: The great thing about poker is that every opponent is different.

The way you play a hand against a tight player is entirely different to the way you would play against a maniac.

So the next time you go for the automatic c-bet with top set, stop and think first.

How would this opponent react if I check to him?

6. What Does He Have?

MF: Beginner players can easily fall into two categories. Those that don’t even think about what their opponent may be holding, and those that try to pinpoint a specific hand.

As you advance as a player you will start to think about the range of hands your opponent could be holding as a result of his previous decisions and interpersonal tendencies and then act accordingly.

Building a Mountain
What does his bet-sizing mean?

Breaking this down can help massively when thinking about whether or not to c-bet.

For example if I open from mid-position and the small blind calls, I’m going to think twice about betting on a flop of J87ddx because his range consists of a lot of middle-pairs and suited Broadway combos.

7. What Does His Bet-Sizing Mean?

MF: So far we’ve discussed situations where we’re the aggressor but let’s consider a scenario where we are the pre-flop caller.

Players have a tendency to change bet sizing depending on the board/strength of their hand without really being good enough to play about with this to any great effect.

Very few players are capable of mixing this up with their strong and weak hands, so if you pay attention you might just be able to take someone off an obvious weak bet after seeing it a few times.

8. What Does He Think I Have?

MF: Thinking about your opponent’s perception of your range is far more important that what your cards are.

Stronger opponents will be thinking about what types of hands you have and then making decisions based on that information.

So if there’s a situation where you have a weak hand but the majority of the hands in your “perceived range” is strong, and this will be apparent to your opponent, then go ahead and fire away.

9. Is “Floating” a Good Idea?

MF: I think the ‘float’ is a move that is under used in poker, particularly by beginner players.

The idea behind this play is to call a flop bet, with no made hand and very little equity, with the intention of picking up the pot on a later street.

The next time you see a weak bet from your opponent, and let’s say we have two bare overcards, then consider floating as an option.

Danny Wong and Paul Volpe as Volpe Eliminated
Think about poker as a river.

This way we can catch an overcard and let him continue bluffing, or even raise the turn to get him off his weak hand and take the pot.

10. Keep an Open Mind

MF: Think about poker as a river. It’s always ebbing and flowing and it never stays static for too long.

It’s important not to get stuck in a rut. Do not let fear or a closed mind stunt your growth.

Try new things in spots where you’re not too sure about, and who knows?

Perhaps you’ll find a good move that will give you the license to print money.



How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Post-Flop Strategy Pt. 1

PokerListings.com and Microstakes master Nathan “BlackRain79″ Williams have teamed up for the definitive series on beating microstakes poker.

Combining in-depth concepts from BlackRain’s groundbreaking book, Crushing the Microstakes, and an ongoing Q&A/hand analysis this is the ideal tool to learn how to beat poker’s lowest stake-levels.

If you’ve got a question or a hand for BlackRain to analyze, drop a note in the comments on any article in the series or email webmaster (at) pokerlistings.com. Analysis and answers will appear every month.

By Paul Verheij

As you’ve learned in the our Microstakes pre-flop guide, microstakes poker requires a more overall, ABC approach to the game.

This holds true for post-flop play as well. As with the pre-flop guide we’ll start with our objectives for post-flop play and then look at how we can achieve those objectives.

A reminder: At the microstakes level play is all about getting value with your good hands. You have to be able to fold hands in situations where you can only win a small pot or, if things go wrong, lose a big pot.

Donkey hat
Good news is there are a (still) a lot of weak players at the microstakes.

Becoming a profitable microstakes player is NOT about exploiting every possible, small edge. Instead you have to focus on developing a solid, profitable game plan good enough to beat the microstakes ONLY.

What You Shouldn’t Be Doing

The good news is that there are a lot of weak players at the microstakes.

If you just get value out of the most profitable situations (which occur frequently) you’ll have a nice win rate, low variance and can climb up the limits (if you want to) faster.

Most microstakes players, however, actually do quite the opposite. Instead of zeroing on weak players and big-value opportunities they focus on small edges against other decent players.

They also try to make more advanced moves against weak players like semi-bluffs, pure bluffs or hero calls — all moves which lead to higher variance, a lower win rate and frustration.

DON’T be one of the players who falls victim to this trap.

What You Should Be Doing

Instead of getting frustrated by applying advanced poker strategy that is not optimal against most opponents at the microstakes, choose another route:  

Focus on the situations where the real money is made!

BlackRain79 did a fantastic job explaining this in his ebook Crushing the Microstakes. If you’re serious about beating microstakes poker you MUST buy his ebook.

Huge cash-game pot
If you play a big pot, have a big hand.

To go along with it, below we’ll offer you some rough guidelines to start developing a decent post-flop strategy for the microstakes.

Big Pot, Big Hand; Small Pot, Small Hand

To get value out of weak players we need to know which hands we can achieve this with.

In a sentence: Play big pots with big hands and play small pots with small hands.

This is in line with our objective from the beginning of this article: get value with your good hands and fold hands in situations where you can only win a small pot or lose a big pot.

What are Big and Small Hands?

It sounds simple but the answer to the question “What are big and small hands” is “it depends.”

A hand like top pair, top kicker is a mediocre hand against a decent player. This player normally won’t pay you off on three streets with a weaker hand.

You, however, can lose a big pot if you invest a lot with this hand against this type of opponent.

A fish WILL actually put his whole stack in with a hand like top pair, weak kicker – making your top pair, top kicker a “big” hand against this type of opponent.

So the first distinction we need to make before classifying a hand as a big or small is to know who we’re up against.

Look for telltale signs of weak players.

Again, BlackRain79 did a perfect job in his ebook with regards to the types of opponents you’ll face and how you should play against them.

Since we want to keep it little bit simpler here we’ll just make a distinction between a weak player and a decent player.

How to Recognize a Weak Player

These kinds of opponents should be your target as this is where you can earn the most money.

Weak opponents will pay you off with weaker hands and, since value-betting is the key to beating the microstakes, you want to have opponents who are willing to pay you off with worse hands.

How can you recognise these type of players?

First of all it is important that you watch showdowns.

These will provide you the most — and most accurate — information. Revisiting hands you’ve played against your opponents will give a lot of information about them.

If you find a player who called on all three streets, for example, with just top pair or even less, chances are big this is a weak player who will pay you off regularly with weaker holdings.

When you watch showdowns you can also see what kind of hands your opponents play from which position. If you see he raises hands like A-7s or K-Jo from UTG (first postiion), you can estimate his range for future hands and know he doesn’t have a tight UTG range like most decent players.

This player also likely isn’t aware of his positional disadvantage. Other information you should watch for:

– How many hands someone is playing and if a player raises most of his hands or is more on the passive side and calls a lot. A player who plays a lot of hands but only raises a small part of them is often a weak player.

– If you use a HUD (Heads-Up Display) you can also watch if there is a gap between VPIP and PFR. Weak players often have a huge gap between these two while decent players often have a small gap.

– When using a HUD you should also watch how often a player fold to 3-bets, flop continuation bets etc. If a player doesn’t fold often then he his very likely to call with weaker holdings.

David Baker
Watch the other players closely.

Your goal is to spot these kind of players so if you are new on a table make sure you watch your opponents closely so you can classify them as soon as possible.

How to Spot a Decent Player

All the other players who don’t fall into the category of “weak player” we will classify as a “decent player.”

This doesn’t automatically mean you’re actually dealing with a decent player (often you’re not). But against this group you should be slightly more cautious when it comes to betting for value.

Against this group of players our goal is to play a decent strategy and only get involved in big pots when we have a really big hand.

If this isn’t the case, we play more straightforward and therefore take a lower-variance route.

As said our focus is on the weak players but when playing a decent, straightforward strategy, chances are good you will also profit from the other players.

Classifying Big Hands and Small Hands

Now that we’ve made a distinction between types of opponent it’s much easier to classify a hand as a big hand or small hand.

Below we’ll describe different type of hands and what your goal should be with these kind of hands.

Remember: These are just rough guidelines as no situation is the same in poker. You should always analyse the board texture and if it hits the range of your opponent, your perceived range etc etc.

As for the advice below we assume straights or flushes aren’t possible. Logically you should proceed with more caution if straights or flushes are possible.

Still these basic guidelines should help you to assess if you have a big hand or a small hand and how you want to proceed.

No-Pair Hands/Garbage

This group of hands are easy to play: Just give them up in case your continuation bet fails to win the pot.

Julian Powell and Leif Force Show Cards
A pair means different things to different players.

Pair Hands

With pairs we can make a distinction between top pair, middle pairs and below. Also the kicker can play an important role.

Weak pairs like middle pair and below you can easily give up with the exception of a possible continuation bet to win the pot. (More later on continuation bets).

When you flop top pair you still have a small hand. Against decent players, but also against weak players, you should proceed cautiously.

With top pair, top kicker we can make a distinction between opponents. Against a decent player you don’t want to play a big pot with a hand like this, but against a weak player you should definitely value-bet more.

You should still realize that although a hand like TPTK goes up in value against a weak player, these kind of hands still aren’t the big money makers.


An overpair looks nice at first sight but you should ask yourself if a decent player is willing to pay you off three streets with a hand less than your overpair.

If you think they won’t (and a real decent player indeed often won’t) then this means you don’t want to play a really big pot against this type of opponent.

Against a weak player this actually can be a money-maker hand. Say you have pocket kings on a Q-8-5 flop and a weak player has a hand like A-Q then chances are big he will pay you off three streets with this hand.

Of course you need to evaluate your overpair. An overpair like 9-9 on a 8-5-2 board is of course different then the example we just looked at.

Two Pairs

Against decent players you should approach this hand the same as a overpair. You want value, but you don’t want to blow up the pot.

Against a weak player this hand is a money-maker and you should value-bet as much as you can. This type of opponent will pay you off with a lot of weaker hands.

Trips (Three-of-a-kind with two cards coming from the board)

Although trips are a strong hand it is not as hidden a a set and therefore against a decent player you should be more cautious.

In this case your kicker plays an important role. You don’t want to stack your opponent with T-9 on a 9-9-2 board just to see your opponent have a better kicker.

royal flush
Flushes and straights can be money-makers.

Just like with two pairs you want value but you don’t want to blow up the pot unless you’re convinced you have the best hand.

Against weak players you should worry less about your kicker since weak players will also pay you off with weaker hands like overpairs, smaller pairs etc.

Weak players don’t like to be bluffed and often will think you are bluffing.

Sets (Three-of-a-kind with two cards from your hole cards)

With these hands you shouldn’t make a distinction between your opponents, just value-bet the crap out of them.

Of course you should watch the board texture with regards to possible straights and/or flushes, but if there is no danger of these hands just try to get your chips in.


Against decent players this hand is a money-maker as long as you have the nut (highest possible) straight.

If you have the bottom end of a straight or there are four straight cards on the board you should be more careful since a decent player is not ging to pay you off with a weaker hand with an obvious straight on the board.

High-quality straights are still money-makers though and you should try to get as much value as possible with these.

Against weak players you should worry less about this since they will also pay you off with hands like two pairs etc. An exception is when a four-card straight is on the board and you have only the bottom end of the straight.


Against decent players only nut flushes will be real money-makers. A non-nut flush is also good enough for value-betting but be way more cautious with these hands — especially when there are four flush cards on the board.

Against weak players these hands are in general money-makers since they often will think you’re bluffing and will pay you off with weaker hands.

An exception is when there are four flush cards on the board and you don’t have the nuts. In this case you should proceed more cautiously.

Monster Hands: Full House and Higher

Well, these hands speak for themselves. Against both types of opponents you should try to get as much value as possible. These are definitely money-makers so you should treat them as such.

Watch your draws closely.


This is a special category. Most of the time they are no-pair or weak-pair hands but they have the potential to become a big hand.

Against a decent player you can play draws a bit more aggressively if you think you also have fold equity.

Against these type of opponents you can win the hand in two ways: Hit your draw or your opponent folds. Still, you should be aware of the strength of your draw as we mentioned with straights and flushes.

Against weak players you should be cautious with these hands when you have no pair beside the draw. Weak players have trouble finding the fold button so a semi-bluff is not as powerful.

Partly this move relies on fold equity, something you don’t have against these opponents. Against weak opponents you should therefore play the hand more passively.

Call instead of raise when you have the rights odds to do so.

Now that we’ve disussed the different type of hands and whether these are big pot hands or small pot hands, in Part 2 we’ll learn how to plan your hands in advance.


How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Pre-Flop Strategy Pt. 1 How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Pre-Flop Strategy Pt. 2 How to Beat Microstakes Poker: Post-Flop Strategy Pt. 2

If you’ve got a question or a hand for BlackRain to analyze, drop a note in the comments on any of the articles in the series or email webmaster (at) pokerlistings.com. Analysis and answers will appear every month.