Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How to Build a Poker Bankroll With $20

How to build a poker bankroll with $20
People often ask me if I have a strategy for how to build a bankroll with $20. My answer is almost always the same: if you’re starting with an amount like $20, then there’s a decent chance that you’ll wind up going broke.

With the variance involved in poker, there is simply no way around that. The smallest cash game limit on offer for instance is typically NL2. If you bought in for 100 big blinds each time (a strategy you should definitely follow) then you will only have 10 buy-ins available. Even the best players in the world could wind up losing 10 buy-ins in a row at NL2 due to a bad run of cards.

So the best advice therefore is to invest a little bit more in your poker career from the start and bring your bankroll to a minimum of $50-60. This would give you 25-30 buy-ins for NL2, which will reduce your risk of going broke significantly. If you’re a sit and go or MTT player, then this will give you around 50 buy-ins for the lowest stakes you’ll find, which is still a bit on the low side but not terrible.

The main reason I don’t recommend starting your poker career by playing with a $20 bankroll is because it might cause you to develop some bad habits and a tendency to gamble. By having proper bankroll management from the very start, you’re going to do the best you can to set yourself up for success in the long run.

Now despite all of the above, I understand that not everyone wants to invest a lot of money in poker, especially if they’re still learning and are afraid to lose it all. That’s why today I want to give you my top tips on how to build a bankroll with $20. Let’s go!

Which format should you play with a $20 bankroll?

The first consideration is obviously which games to play in, cash, sit n gos or tourneys. Although your game selection will have large implications for your bankroll, this shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision.

When thinking about which format to play, you should choose the one you’re looking to focus on in the long run. Specializing in one format will give you the best shot at becoming really good at it. If you mix it up too much you’ll likely wind up being decent at all of them, but great at none.

Of course, if you’re just starting out then you might not know which format you want to keep playing for the rest of your career (or a significant part of it). This why I would recommend checking out my guide on which poker games to play first to give you a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

And of course it’s totally fine to experiment as well. In fact, you should try cash games, sit n gos and tourneys when you are just starting out. In order to succeed in building a bankroll with $20, let’s take a look at which of the formats will give you the biggest chance of success.

Cash Games

As I noted above the smallest stakes that most poker sites offer for cash games is 1c/2c, also known as NL2. The minimum buy-in on most sites these days is 40 big blinds, which would give you 25 buy-ins.

While I generally don’t recommend buying in for less than 100 big blinds, when playing with a $20 bankroll you could make an exception as this will (at least in theory) help protect a lesser experienced player from going broke as fast. Like I said above though, you simply can’t avoid this risk if you’re starting with a bankroll this small.

In fact, as Pokerdope explains in it's variance calculations, for a player who is a small winner (2.5bb/100), with a standard deviation of 100bb/100, there is a 76.83% chance that you will go broke with a $20 bankroll (1000bb) no matter what amount you choose to buyin for:

How to build a poker bankroll with $20

They ran these simulations over a sample size of 100 million hands by the way just in case you had any doubt. This is why I and many others constantly preach about the importance of proper bankroll management.

Luckily though, the thing about NL2 is that it’s still an absolute circus even in 2017. Even if you’re relatively new to the game, you can expect to win by simply playing tight and betting your good hands strongly on each street (also know as “ABC Poker”).

If you’re a halfway decent player then you can expect to have a solid winrate at these stakes (much higher than 2.5bb/100), which will lower the risk of a big downswing significantly.

Sit and Gos

The second format for building a bankroll from $20 are sit and gos. The problem with this choice is that you don’t have the option to play it safe as with our 25 buy-in example at NL2. The lowest sit and gos on offer are usually $1.10 or somewhere in this region, which will only give you around 20 buy-ins. This is extremely low by any standards.

So if you’re looking to play sit and gos to build your roll, you should be prepared to lose it all and not feel too bad if it happens. Keeping your expectations realistic is the best way to avoid tilt, so always try to be honest about your chances upfront.

With that being said, sit and gos do have one thing going for them: You can bink a couple of them in a row and give yourself a chance to build a healthy bankroll in a very short time. This is not really possible with cash games, so this high risk / high reward strategy can definitely make sense. Just remember to exercise good bankroll management as soon as you’re out of the danger zone and don’t keep gambling after that.

Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs)

MTTs are easily the worst choice for playing with a $20 bankroll. Proper bankroll management for tournaments requires well over 100 buy-ins for each stake. Since the smallest tourneys are also usually around $1, you will be well short of that.

The problem with MTTs is that it is much harder to bink a win in the short run than with sit and gos. This is especially true of low-stakes MTTs, since these tend to attract huge player fields of well over 1,000 players. Even cashing in these is not an easy task, since you’ll have to beat 800-900 players to do so.

Taking 20 shots at low-stakes MTTs is just a complete crap shoot, there’s no other way to say it. Again, if you accept the risk of going broke you can roll the dice and try it, but you’ll be better off just topping up your bankroll upfront.

What other strategies can you use for building a bankroll from $20?

As mentioned above, when choosing the right format you should think about your general strategy for building your bankroll. Do you want to take a higher risk and have a better chance of building a good-sized roll quickly? Or do you want to take it slow and steady and grind yourself up?

These are important considerations not only for picking your format, but also for the style of play you’ll use at the tables. When choosing a high-risk strategy, you might want to play looser than normally in order to score big (i.e. loose and aggressive or LAG). It’s a viable strategy if you know what you’re doing, although I personally wouldn’t recommend it for most people.

Poker is a marathon and you should treat it like that at any point in your career. Developing a gambler’s mindset can create big problems for you later on. With that in mind, here are some strategies that will help you succeed in building your bankroll from $20.

Play Tight

If you really want to avoid going broke as much as possible with your small bankroll, then playing tight will be by far the best strategy. By only playing strong starting hands, you can decrease variance significantly and reduce the risk of any downswings as much as possible.

I would recommend playing as little as the top 15% of hands in full ring (9 handed) and the top 20% of hands in a 6-max game.

Another reason for playing tight from the start is that I generally recommend playing a tight style for most of your journey through the micros. Playing a loose style only works if your post-flop game is very strong and if you can expect to frequently outplay opponents that hold better hands.

Remember that I’m only talking about playing tight, but never passive. Once you do enter pots, you should be betting and raising with your strong hands a lot in order to build big pots. This style, which many of you will know as the TAG (tight-aggressive) style, is by far the most optimal in most games.

Another reason for playing tight is that with a bankroll of $20, you’ll be playing in some truly crazy games. There is simply no point in playing weak hands in crazy NL2 games where nobody’s folding post-flop. Just play as tight as you can stomach it and count your money later.


While I advised against playing MTTs when playing with a small bankroll, there is definitely one exception: you should play as many freerolls as you can, especially if you’re planning on sticking with MTTs later on.

While freerolls hold little interest for players with bankrolls of $100 and higher, they can be absolutely fantastic in your particular situation. If you manage to win a huge freeroll, you can often win well over $20, which can triple or quadruple your roll with no risk at all. Even final tabling one will usually pay out a few dollars, which can increase your roll by 25% or more.

As you’ll probably be at the start of your poker career with a bankroll of $20, freerolls offer a great chance to improve and get some hands in without having to risk your own money.

Cardschat has put together an excellent strategy guide for freerolls. Here are their top tips:

How to build a poker bankroll with $20

Don’t Tilt if You Go Broke

Now I know this is easier said than done, but as I mentioned before, it is crucial to always have realistic expectations in poker. The single biggest reason people tilt is because they overestimate their skill and underestimate the role of variance in the game.

After all, if you’re truly prepared for something, then why would you get angry if it happens?

That is absolutely true for playing with a tiny bankroll. The risk of losing it all is significant and can’t be avoided. If you want to play it safe then you need to start with a bigger roll, period. However, exercising good tilt control from the start and learning to deal with setbacks can be incredibly valuable in the long run.

Remember, even though you are gambling on a short roll, sometimes you will get lucky as well and everything will work out. One thing you can't do in poker though is fight the math so you shouldn't get too down on yourself if setbacks occur.

Final Thoughts

While I generally don’t recommend starting with a bankroll of less than $50, there are definitely a lot of things you can do to increase your chances of success. Choose the right format, play a tight-aggressive style and use as many freeroll offers as you can.

And above all: just remember to run really really well and you will soon find yourself with enough room to exercise proper bankroll management!

To learn the strategy that I used to create some of the highest winnings in the history of online poker in these games, make sure to grab a copy of my free poker ebook.

Do you have any other strategies for how to build a bankroll from $20? Or have you actually pulled it off before? Then let me know in the comments!

Lastly, if you found this article helpful, do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

How to build a poker bankroll with $20

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tournaments vs Cash Games: What the Pros Play

Tournaments vs Cash Games: What the Pros Play
Should you play poker tournaments or cash games? This is something that a lot of people ask themselves when they first start playing poker.

In tournaments everybody starts with the same amount of chips and the blinds increase at regular intervals. The goal of the tournament is to win everybody else's chips. And there are real money payouts depending on where you finish.

In cash games however, the chips that you have in front of you represent real dollar amounts and the blinds never increase. Furthermore, you cannot be eliminated and you can reload again anytime you want. So the goal is simply to win more chips than you started with.

For me personally, I have always taken poker very seriously from the start. So I wanted to know which format the pros play. Because I figured that there must be more money in the one that they choose.

So I created this simple infographic below to weigh some of the advantages and disadvantages of playing in cash games versus tournaments.

Tournaments vs Cash Games - What the Pros Play

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1. More consistent money in cash games

The first thing that you will notice about cash games is that you tend to make steady money in them. As long as you play a consistent amount of hands you can actually almost predict how much you will make on a monthly basis.

Tournaments are a totally different animal though. Even some of the top players will go months in a row without any kind of a significant score. And since they are always paying buyin fees this means that they are slowly losing money.

But then boom out of nowhere they will go on a tear and have a huge month. Sometimes they might even take down a few tournaments in a row. This will make up for all of those dry months when nothing was working for them.

So if a steady consistent cash flow is what you are looking for, then cash games are definitely the way to go. If you have the stomach for some truly insane variance, then maybe tournaments are for you.

2. Cash games give you more flexibility

The other thing that you have to think about is having flexibility with your time. Do you like to have a social life? Do you like to be able to plan things out in advance and have some control over you time?

If so then cash games also get the big advantage here. You can come and go in cash games basically any time you want. And since the games run around the clock online in particular, you can quite literally play whenever you want.

With tournaments though, not only do you need to schedule your play around the key events that you want to play in, but you also have no idea whether you will be playing for 30 minutes, 2 hours or 10 hours.

This makes planning out your life difficult. And it is a major negative for me as someone who believes that a good work/life balance as a poker pro is the key to better results.

3. Tournaments are easier to learn

Now in the plus category for tournaments is the fact that they are much easier to learn. It is really difficult to make a lot of mistakes in tournaments because the decisions are a lot more straightforward.

In fact, once you get past the first couple levels and the blinds start increasing, fewer and fewer hands get played all the way until the river (unless somebody is all-in). This is because the stack sizes are more shallow, often being 50bb (big blinds), 30bb or even less in the mid to late stages of a tournament.

In cash games by comparison, most players will have 100bb or even more in front of them at all times. This means that there is much more room to maneuver both preflop and postflop. And this ultimately leads to more complex decisions.

Also, when the stacks are deeper like this it is always going to favor the more skilled players. This means that the newer players will lose their money faster.

So if you are brand new to poker the easier learning curve in tournaments can definitely be a plus. You will have a better chance of becoming a competent winning player faster.

With that said though, cash games will ultimately teach you a broader skill-set (all 4 streets instead of focusing on just the first 2). I personally think that this is worth investing the time in.

This is also why you tend to see cash game players make an easy transition to tournaments whereas tournament players often struggle mightily in cash games.

4. Higher potential earnings in cash games

The last thing that is important to note (especially for any aspiring pros out there) is that there is more potential money to be made in cash games than tournaments.

High stakes cash games can be found regularly on the internet and in casinos and private games. High stakes tournaments on the other hand tend to only run on certain days of the week or times of the year (WSOP for example).

Also, if you are looking to make it to the very top in the poker world, then you also need to consider that there just aren't too many ultra high stakes poker tournaments per year. Whereas cash games with millions of dollars flying around frequently run in places like Macau and Las Vegas for example.

However, an important point to note is that tournaments tend to attract more fish overall. The low limit tourneys online are a testament to this. They are absolutely packed with terrible players day and night.

And the reason why is because the lure of the big payday will always attract the recreational players. The chance to quickly turn $5 into $5000 or $100 into $100000 is a huge draw especially for gamblers looking to make a quick buck.

So if you are looking for insanely soft games, tournaments tend to offer a little more in this category especially at the lower limits.

What do the pros play?

So what do the pros actually play then, tournaments or cash games? Well, I would say that most pros that I know at least play cash games for a living. And this is also the case for me personally.

As I discussed above, they are just better suited overall to the life of a professional poker player. The money is more consistent and your have a lot more flexibility with your time.

But this doesn't mean that poker pros don't dabble in tournaments on the side as well. I regularly find myself loading up a bunch of MTTs online especially on Sunday when the best events run.

And I will also never forget the first time that I won a poker tournament. It was only for about $600 but that was still one of the greatest thrills that I have ever had in this game.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of making it really deep in a large field tournament. That "rush" is something that you just can't really get in a cash game.

What should YOU play?

Now I realize that most people reading this article aren't looking to become professional poker players though. They play this game as a part time hobby. They already have full time careers that they are happy with.

In that case, I would definitely just suggest playing the format that you enjoy more. Some people are simply wired for cash games or for tournaments. You shouldn't try to fight this.

The thing about poker is that it is a long term grind. You are going to play many, many hours and endure countless ups and downs. If you are going to become successful in poker, then you need to play in the games that you are going to enjoy the most.

Don't just play cash games for instance because you heard me or somebody else say that they are better for the pros or for making consistent money. The facts are that there is good money to be made in both tournaments and cash games.

Your commitment to putting in the hours at the tables, and improving your poker game away from the tables, is what is really going to bring you success in either format.

Final Thoughts

Tournaments versus cash games. A dilemma for the ages! It really doesn't have to be such a big deal though. And if you are brand new to the game, then I would suggest just playing both to start and seeing which one that you personally prefer more.

If you have future aspirations towards playing this game on a professional level though, then I would have to recommend cash games over tournaments. The money is more consistent and you can have a life outside of the game as well which is very important as a pro.

But the bottom line is that there is good money to be made in either format. For me personally, I will always play both but cash games are my main focus.

Let me know in the comments below which you prefer, cash games or tournaments?

Lastly, if you found this article helpful, do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

Tournaments vs Cash Games: What the Pros Play

Saturday, September 9, 2017

How Much Money Can You Make Playing Online Poker in 2017?

How Much Money Can You Make Playing Online Poker in 2017?
How much money can you make playing online poker is a question that I often get asked. There are a lot of different factors that can influence this such as your winrate, how often you play and if you multi-table or not.

However, it is certainly possible to come up with some rough numbers for an average person who plays semi-regularly, multi-tables a bit and takes the game fairly serious (i.e. studies their hands, reads books, table selects etc).

So in this article I am going to break it down limit by limit at the micro stakes levels in particular and talk about just how much money a typical poker player should expect to make.

Please keep in mind that all of the numbers below are pre-rakeback and pre-bonuses. This is the money that you earn in online poker by essentially just playing the game.

This can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars more per month depending on how much you play and what stakes you are playing at.

Also, keep in mind that most poker pros will make far more than the amounts listed below. This is because their winrate (measured in big blinds won per 100 hands) will be a lot higher. They will simply play a lot more hands of poker as well.

Alright, let's get it started!

NL2 - $150 per month

NL2 (blinds 1c/2c) is the lowest limit that you can play in online poker. The money isn't amazing by any means but the winrates are the highest here. And this is because you will find the worst real money players on earth at this stake.

The amount of money that you are going to make in poker is always relative to the people who you are playing against. Play against really bad players all the time and you will crush, period.

So somebody who takes the game fairly seriously (studies their hands, reads books, table selects etc) should expect to win about 15bb/100 at NL2. This means that they will make 15 big blinds for every 100 hands that they play.

Now I will also assume that this person plays fairly regularly and multi-tables a bit. Therefore, they should be able to play about 50k hands a month. So with a little bit of simple math they should expect to make about $150 per month playing NL2.

  • 15 x 2c = 30c
  • 50000 / 100 = 500
  • 30c x 500 = $150 

For comparison, at my absolute peak of mass multi-tabling online poker I was playing about 5 times as many hands as this (around 250k hands a month). I was typically playing 18-24 tables at a time (or roughly 8 Zoom) for around 4-6 hours per day.

My winrate was also twice as high as I assumed in this example. So by putting in large amounts of volume like this, at a significantly higher winrate, I was able to consistently make $1000 per month in this game.

NL5 - $250 per month

NL5 (2c/5c) is the next stake in online poker and the players get a little bit better here. You won't find nearly as many total beginners or completely clueless recreational players (fish) either.

An average person who takes poker fairly seriously should expect to have a winrate of about 10bb/100 in this game. Yes, it will drop that much which surprises some people.

But as I have discussed before, you will experience the biggest relative skill gap in online poker when you make the move from NL2 to NL5. Both games are still very easy to beat in reality though for an experienced poker player.

So once again assuming a monthly volume of about 50k hands, our average poker player should expect to make about $250 per month playing NL5.

Definitely nothing amazing so far even after you add in the rakeback and bonuses as well. This is why I always stress that you use these lower limits to master the fundamentals of poker. Don't even think about the money yet.

This will help you get prepared for the higher stakes where the competition tends to be quite a bit better, but the money that you can earn is a lot higher as well.

NL10 - $400 per month

NL10 (5c/10c) is the third level in online poker and the last real "beginner" limit in my opinion. The players are slightly better here than at NL5 and you need to start developing a bit more advanced strategy to really crush your opponents at this stake.

An average person who takes the game fairly seriously should expect to have a winrate of about 8bb/100 at this limit. This means that assuming a monthly volume once again of 50k hands, they should expect to make about $400 per month playing NL10. 

Definitely nothing to write home about still but most people would probably be pretty happy banking an extra $400 a month from their part time hobby.

A mediocre pro could easily expect to make 1k per month at this stake, even at the exact same winrate, by simply increasing the volume.

NL25 - $750 per month

NL25 (10c/25c) is the first limit in online poker where you can start to make what most people would consider "significant" money. Rakeback and bonuses also increase greatly at this limit as well, easily in the hundreds of dollars a month with regular play.

Our average person who takes poker fairly seriously should expect to have a winrate of about 6bb/100 in this game. This means that by playing 50k hands a month they should expect to make about $750 per month playing NL25.

Not a bad chunk of change. This is why at NL25 you start seeing the first players who are playing for either a significant portion of their income or all of it (full time pros). After all, many people forget that $750 a month is actually an above average income in most countries around the world.

For comparison once again, at my peak of mass multi-tabling online poker I was able to consistently make $2000 to $3000 per month in this game especially once all of the rakeback and bonuses were added in.

NL50 - $1250 per month

NL50 (25c/50c) is the next step up the ladder in online poker and the players are a little bit better here than at NL25. Once again you will need to have a fairly solid strategy to really crush these games.

This means that you should be studying your own hands and your opponents as well. You can do this in a program like PokerTracker for instance.

You should also be reading poker books, watching training videos and possibly even consider hiring a coach as well.

Lastly, it is absolutely crucial that you are exercising some table selection by these stakes. There should always be at least one clear weak recreational player at your table. Otherwise you should not be playing there.

An average person who does at least some of these things should be able to achieve a winrate of about 5b/100 at NL50. This means that by playing 50k hands per month they should expect to make about $1250 per month playing NL50.

Definitely nothing to sneeze at. Who couldn't use an extra 1k+ per month from their part time hobby? Once again, most pros will make considerably more than this.

NL100 - $2000 per month

NL100 (50c/1$) is what I consider to be the final micro stakes limit. The competition really starts to improve by this stake. You have to know your stuff in order to compete with the best players at this limit.

But the money also starts to get pretty significant by NL100 and very good once you add in all the rakeback and bonuses as well. In fact, many full time pros will make an income in this game that could easily replace their full time job.

Our average part time player though who takes the game fairly seriously should expect to have a winrate of about 4bb/100. This means that by playing 50k hands a month they should expect to make about $2000 per month playing NL100.

Not too bad for a playing a silly little card game on the internet in your spare time!

Final Thoughts

So how much money can you make playing online poker in 2017? Well at the lowest stakes you should only expect to make a couple hundred dollars per month. However, if you can climb up a few limits then you can start making $1000 or more per month.

And of course I did not even mention the mid or high stakes games at all in this article. A good player in these games can make upwards of 10k per month. Full time pros will make 6 or even 7 figures a year in some cases.

I definitely don't want you to think that it is easy though. Success in online poker is by no means a walk in the park these days. You have to be willing to work for it. It also does not happen overnight.

In order to really crush the online games in 2017 you have to be willing to put in time away from the tables studying your hands. You should also invest some time in reading poker books, watching training videos and possibly even hiring a coach.

If you want to learn how I created some of the highest winnings in online poker history at the micro stakes, then make sure to pick up a copy of my free poker ebook.

Also, for my full story as an online poker pro check out my recent blog post that went viral:
10 Years as a Poker Pro: This is What I Learned.

Let me know in the comments below how much money YOU make (or plan to make) playing online poker. 

Lastly, if you found this post helpful, do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or "Tweet" below. Thanks!

How Much Money Can You Make Playing Online Poker in 2017?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

How to Beat Tight Poker Players - The Essential Guide

how to beat tight poker players
If you play low limit poker then you have undoubtedly encountered many tight poker players. They are also often referred to simply as nits.

A "nit" in poker is somebody who plays extremely tight. They only play very strong hands before the flop, and usually if they are betting after the flop, then they have something very good as well.

Learning how to smash the nits is absolutely essential for your success in today's micro stakes games. And the reason why is because they will be your most common opponent by far.

Go load up any game at NL50 and under right now and you will see countless players folding like it is their job!

Now it must be noted right from the start that there is no way that you are ever going to turn a massive winrate against these types of players. And this is because by playing so tight they actually protect themselves from ever losing too much.

You can only ever expect to truly win big against the players who are making tons of huge mistakes and playing way too many hands (i.e. the recreational players). But that is a topic for another article.

However, there are several ways to exploit the tight players in today's small stakes games in order to make sure that you are at least earning a solid profit against them.

And I actually have a few bonus tactics that you will find at the end for how to put them on tilt and potentially get them to spew off ALL of their chips to you.

So let's get started!

1. Play loose and steal their blinds

The first way to start making a steady profit against the tight players is by playing loose and stealing their blinds more often. Now you may have heard this before. However, it still amazes me how many people fail to have a look at who is in the blinds before they raise preflop. 

When you see a couple of nits who are going to fold perhaps 80% or 90% of their hands when you raise, then you can profitably raise with an absolutely huge amount of hands.

This is especially the case when it is folded to you in late position (the cutoff or the button). I always cringe a little bit inside when I see regs folding so much from these positions when there are a couple of extremely tight players in the blinds waiting to give their money away.

This is especially the case if they are the kind of nits who do not fight back very much either. You can quickly check their 3Bet% on your HUD in order to make sure. If it is below 5, then you should literally be attempting to steal their blinds all day.

I would be raising something like the top 50% of hands. This means anything that is even remotely playable. Any ace, any king, any broadway, any pair, suited connectors, suited one gappers, heck even suited two gappers! You get the idea.

You only need to risk a small amount when attempting to steal the blinds, 3x or 2.5x the big blind is fine. Some people even just miniraise it.

For Example: 

You are playing NL2 online where the big blind is 2 cents.
  • 3x the big blind = 6 cents
  • 2.5x the big blind = 5 cents
And it is important to remember that every time you successfully steal the blinds you earn 1.5 big blinds in super easy and variance free profit. 

Since most people only win a few big blinds for every 100 hands that they play at the micros these days, stealing the blinds a little bit more often could potentially mean doubling or even tripling their winrate!

Example #1

You are on the Button with:


The small blind is a nit and the big blind is a nit.

You should RAISE!

Example #2

You are on the Button with:


The small blind is a nit and the big blind is a nit.

You should RAISE!

Play looser overall at a table full of tight players and steal their blinds more often. Watch your poker winnings increase. Thank me later :)

2. Re-raise them before the flop

Another way to abuse the tight players is to re-raise (3Bet) them frequently when they are clearly just trying to steal the blinds themselves. Just because nits tend to play really tight doesn't mean that they don't know about the profitability of stealing the blinds as well. 

Most nits these days will be trying to steal the blinds with as much as 30% of hands when it is folded to them in late position. Sometimes even more.

Here is an idea of what the top 30% of hands looks like:
beating tight poker players
Now the question to ask yourself here is how many of these hands is a nit likely to call with if you re-raise? Remember that this is typically a risk averse type of player who doesn't like to play a big pot with a weak hand. 

I think you already know the answer to this question. Not very many.

It is always a good idea to check the Fold to 3Bet% stat on your HUD first if you have any doubts. Many of the tight regulars that you will encounter at the micros will fold to a 3Bet 80% or more of the time. 

Therefore, you can once again make a variance free easy profit by simply re-raising them preflop a little bit more often when they are trying to steal the blinds.

The key is to do it just often enough to keep them guessing if you out of line or you just happen to pick up AA more often than everybody else. 

3. Bet again frequently on the flop

Sometimes you won't be able to shake the nits preflop though. Sometimes they will either call your preflop raise or call your preflop 3Bet. What do you do then?

Well, the easiest way to turn a profit against tight poker players like this is just to continue betting on the flop most of the time.

As Partypoker points out in a recent strategy guide, the simple math tells us that the odds of flopping a pair after the flop with a random hand is only about 1 in 3. So we know that 2 out of 3 times they won't have much of anything at all on the flop.

The other thing to note is that you only need to make your bet on the flop about 50% or 60% of the size of the pot. 

For Example:

The pot is 10 cents on the flop. You should bet 5 cents or 6 cents.

When you are betting such a small amount you only need to get a fold about 1 in 3 times in order to break even.

Pretty much any nit that you will encounter at the micros these days will fold versus a flop bet this often. Usually it will be much, much higher in fact.

Once again you don't need to guess though. You can simply double check this on your HUD by looking at the Fold to Flop CBet% stat.

4. Call them when they bet

beating the nits
One of my favorite methods for beating the tight players in today's small stakes games is to call them when they bet into me. This is also often called a "float" in poker. 

The reason why you want to be floating the nits frequently at the lower limits is because they often won't have the heart to keep betting on later streets unless they have an extremely strong hand.

You can double check this once again on your HUD by comparing their Flop CBet% with their Turn CBet%. If there is a gap of 20 or more points, then they are a perfect target for floating.

When they check to us on the turn this gives us a ton of different ways to take the pot away from them especially if we are in position.

And this is a crucial point that many people forget. It is important to remember that the entire point of a float in poker is to win the pot on a later street (i.e. the turn or river).

So if I float a tight player on the flop and he checks to me on the turn, then I am pretty much going to be betting 100% of the time. My cards literally do not even matter.

Now it is important to make sure that you always have some sort of equity or outs when attempting this play. You don't want to float people in poker with absolutely nothing because you are going to get looked up sometimes.

So you always want to have a little bit of equity in your back pocket. This gives you a chance to win the pot later on by simply "getting lucky" as well. 

So I will often call their bet on the flop with hands like:
  • Middle pair
  • Bottom pair
  • A flush draw
  • A straight draw
  • An inside (gutshot) straight draw
  • Two overcards

So as you can see I am calling the tight players on the flop with a wide variety of hands. Often they aren't the best hands right now (i.e. I am mathematically behind) but they have plenty of outs to win the pot later on.

And also, I am planning on pouncing on any weakness that they show me later on in the hand. So I will often win the pot without having to showdown the best hand anyways.

This float and take it away on the turn play can do absolute wonders for your redline or non-showdown winnings by the way.

And you can check out my complete guide to improving your redline for 8 more ways to take more pots away...without the best hand.

The bottom line is that you have to start getting involved more often versus the tight players (and all regs for that matter) if you really want to start turning a bigger profit against them. 

You simply can't expect to win big in poker by folding all the time. You just won't make hands often enough for this to be the case. So floating the tight risk averse players like this, especially in position, is a great place to start.

5. Raise them on the flop or turn

Another way to abuse the nits is to raise on the flop or the turn. Once again you want to do this with a wide variety of hands that aren't necessarily the nuts. In other words hands like draws, middle pair and so on. 

You certainly don't want to be doing this all the time. But sometimes you need to find more ways to apply more pressure against the tight players in order to win more pots against them. 

So here is an example of a situation where instead of calling I might consider raising from time to time. 

Example #3

You have:




A tight player bets

You should RAISE!

This is a great spot to take a pot away from a tight opponent by making a raise instead of a call. We have an open ended straight draw (8 outs) and we also have a backdoor flush draw. It is important not to forget those backdoor outs!

We could just call here and we definitely should do that plenty of the time. But what do we do when the turn comes with another high card and they bet again? Fold?

You don't win at poker by folding. 

We could raise instead in this situation though and then bet the turn regardless of whether we make our hand or not. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on a tight player to show up with a real hand. 

And what's even better is that we still have the exact same odds of making our hand by the river whether we choose the conservative calling option or the aggressive raising option.

In other words sometimes we will still win the hand the old fashioned way by simply making the best hand. Try applying some real pressure on the nits like this more often when you have some sort of draw or reasonable hand. 

You might be surprised at how many more pots you start winning. And this is because you have given yourself more ways to win. You can make the best hand OR bluffing them out.

6. Bluff the river more often

crushing the nits
Another great way to start turning a bigger profit against the nits at the lower stakes is to start bluffing the river more often. And the reason why this works so well is because one of the main weaknesses of tight poker players is not wanting to go to showdown without a strong hand. 

This is another reason why I recommend using a HUD so much at the micros. Because you can easily double check this as well by looking at the WTSD% (went to showdown) statistic. It basically tells you who you should bluff and who you shouldn't.

Here are a few rough rules of thumb for WTSD%:
  • 26 or higher = calling station, don't bluff
  • 23, 24, 25 = it's close
  • 22 and below = risk averse player, bluff them frequently

So when I get to the river versus a nitty player who I know doesn't like to go to showdown without a strong hand, then I am frequently going to be trying to bluff them. I am specifically looking to do this on:
  • Big broadway scare cards (ace or king especially)
  • Draw completer cards (cards that complete an obvious flush or straight)

You can often bluff them out of the pot by betting on these cards and pick up some really easy profit. This works especially well if you have a relatively tight table image yourself. They won't expect you to be getting out of line.

Often they will think it over for awhile but ultimately decide to make the disciplined fold with their middle pair or even top pair. It is important to make sure that you never show them the bluff. Always keep them guessing. 

Advanced Bluff/Raising Strategy

Another relatively advanced way to win more pots on the river is to mix in some bluff/raises as well. This is especially effective when a really scary card falls. A situation where the board has one card to a straight for instance.







When a tight player bets into me on this river I know that they are often making when is referred to as a "blocker bet." This means that they have some sort of decent hand (such as top pair) that just wants a cheap showdown.

But what they probably don't have is the only hand that actually matters on a board like this, the straight. After all, how many 5's is a tight player likely to have in his range? Very few. They will fold almost all of them preflop. 

So you can consider putting in the bluff/raise in a spot like this to represent the straight and make them fold their top pair or overpair hand. Once again, make sure that you never show them the bluff.

7. Put them on tilt

One of my absolute favorite ways to make a solid profit against the nits is to put them on tilt. When you can successfully put someone on tilt and get inside their head, this can cause them to start playing very poorly against you. Getting all their chips therefore becomes very easy.

So when I begin a new poker session I will often pick one or sometimes two tight players that I notice are on several of my tables. And I want to make sure that I have position on them as well. 

From there I will just go ahead and start re-raising them literally every single time they enter the pot. I am going to make it as obvious as humanly possible that yes, I am out of line. I am going out of my way to ruin their day at the poker tables.
beating the poker nits
How I picture them once I start raising them every hand
Now even though most nits these days are just auto-piloting on a bunch of tables while waiting for the nuts, when somebody starts re-raising the crap out of them, they are going to take notice. So it often won't take very long for them to start adjusting by calling me more or even re-raising me back. 

It is important not to let this deter you. You should still go ahead and try to bluff them out of the pot several times after the flop as well. Usually in the early going (before they are 100% sure that you are messing with them), they will still give you the benefit of the doubt and make the tight folds.

You can often pickup several pots by just straight up bluffing the nits like this before they realize what is going on and start calling you down. At this point you want to revert back to totally normal play and only show them strong hands.

The great thing about this strategy is that it causes many micro stakes regulars to tilt very easily. This is especially the case if you are running good and winning most of the pots. This can cause a tight player to come out of his shell and start making all kinds of terrible calls that he wouldn't normally make against you.

I recommend trying this strategy out at NL2 first if you have never done it before because the money is relatively meaningless to most people at this stake. Just pick one tight reg and start raising them every single hand. You might be surprised at just how easy it is to quickly put them on tilt.

8. Set them up for future mistakes

beating nitty poker players
The other amazing benefit of this strategy is that it sets them up for future mistakes as well. This is often referred to as the "meta-game" in poker.

You need to remember that you are playing against many of these same tight players every single day at the poker tables. If you truly want to get ahead against them then you need to start employing some mind game tactics like this.

Poker is psychological warfare and the battle is won or lost over long periods of weeks, months or even years. What matters in a single session is not important.

However, in my lengthy experience of trying to tilt the regs at the micros I have often found that it takes them a very long time to forget that single session when I was totally out of line against them. 

I have gotten paid off months down the road in some cases because of this. There have even been a few occasions where they were so embarrassed by what they called me with that they felt compelled to explain their actions in the chat.

It was because I played like a total lunatic against them in some hand weeks or months ago that I barely even remember! They remembered it though, and they probably had a note on me that I am "crazy, love to bluff" etc.

And the other reason why this strategy works so well is that there are very few players at the lower limits who do it. You don't start seeing the regs radically changing their game from session to session like this until much higher limits.

So when you do it at the micros it will make you stick out like a sore thumb. They will be furiously taking their notes on you if you show up with even one crazy bluff.

This can pay off weeks or even months down the line when you pick up AA against them and suddenly you are getting all the action you ever wanted.

Final thoughts

Learning how to beat the tight poker players in today's games is absolutely crucial to your success. And the main reason why is that they will be your most common opponents by far. But luckily there are still several ways to exploit their weaknesses. 

First off, make sure that you are playing loose and raising their blinds frequently in order to take advantage of the most obvious leak in their game, folding too much preflop.

Also, re-raise them before the flop a lot when it is clear that they are just trying to steal the blinds. They won't have a hand strong enough to call you with very often.

After the flop make sure that you are applying plenty of pressure as well. There are numerous ways to do this such as betting the flop, floating, raising and bluffing the river. 

You should also go out of your way to tilt some of the tight regulars from time to time. This is one of the easiest ways to get them to come out of their shell and finally start making some really big mistakes against you.

Lastly, if you want to read my entire "playbook" on how to smash the nits (and everybody else at the micros for that matter), then make sure you pick up your copy of my brand new book that was just released last week, The Micro Stakes Playbook.

I hope this article gave you some ideas on how to start beating all the tight players at the lower stakes. Let me know in the comments below what some of your best strategies are for abusing the nits!

If you found this article helpful, do me a quick favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Announcing the Release of The Micro Stakes Playbook

The Micro Stakes Playbook

Official Release: The Micro Stakes Playbook

I am extremely excited to finally announce the release of my new book, The Micro Stakes Playbook. This book has quietly been in the works for a year now and it has been a massive undertaking.

After the overwhelming response to my previous two books, Crushing the Microstakes and Modern Small Stakes, I knew that a final installment bringing it all together was necessary.

The reason why I wrote The Micro Stakes Playbook is because I still get people emailing me and commenting on my posts all the time who are having trouble beating even the very lowest limits in some cases.

And when I have a quick look at some of their hands, I can see right away why this is the case. In many key situations they are making what I would consider to be the 2nd or even 3rd best decision instead of the optimal one.

So this book represents everything that I have learned about crushing the micro stakes games as a professional for over 10 years now. It is more or less the complete strategy "playbook" that I have always wanted to put together for the micros.

That is, how to make the best possible play, as often as possible. Because this truly is the heart of winning poker.

Let me start by saying that this is NOT a beginner's book. The Micro Stakes Playbook won't teach you what hands to play, how much you should bet, how to use position and so on. Teaching these basic fundamentals of the game was the entire purpose behind my previous books.

The Micro Stakes Playbook is instead a pure strategy book which consists of 21 of my best "plays" or strategies that I have used to crush the micros online for some of the highest winnings ever recorded.

This book is the culmination of millions of hands of experience and experimentation on exactly what works and what doesn't in today's games.

This book was written for those who are currently struggling to even beat the micros. And it has plenty of advanced strategies in it as well for those who are already winning and want to take their game to the next level.

In fact, let me just show you exactly what you are going to find in the book.

The Official Youtube Release Video (Table of Contents)

Table of Contents (Screenshots)

The Micro Stakes Playbook by BlackRain79
BlackRain79 new poker book
BlackRain79 MSP
The Microstakes Playbook Nathan Williams
The Micro Stakes Playbook Nathan Williams
New poker book blackrain79

Who The Micro Stakes Playbook is For

The Micro Stakes Playbook covers all micro and small stakes games online and live as well. It is also meant for 6-Max, full ring and fast fold games online (i.e. Zoom, Snap, Zone etc.)

Starting from the beginning I break down the 6 different player types that you are going to find in these games. I show you exactly what to look for, what their weaknesses are, and how to create the most profitable counter strategies against them.

I then discuss hand reading at the micros and how to put your opponents on the correct range at all stages of a poker hand. These two things are absolutely crucial to all of the strategy discussion that comes later on in the book.

After that, starting from preflop, I break down my top 21 most profitable strategies at the micros. Each play is thoroughly discussed and then illustrated via the 50 highly in depth example hands throughout the book.

These plays range from beginner level stuff like stealing the blinds more effectively and CBetting strategies versus the regs, to highly advanced stuff like bluff/raising the turn all-in and making big multi-street calldowns versus the good regs.

In short, this book was written specifically for the micro/small stakes game online (and low stakes live as well), and focuses solely on how to crush these games.

What You Will Learn in the Micro Stakes Playbook

Here are just a few of the strategies that you will learn in this book:
  • How to double your winrate with an optimal blind stealing strategy
  • How to 3Bet light versus the weak regs again and again
  • How to flat 3Bets and then take the pot away postflop
  • How to 4Bet bluff the aggressive regs
  • How to start winning WAY MORE pots after the flop by floating and raising
  • How to bluff/raise the turn and make them fold
  • How to bluff the river (exactly when to do it and WHY it will work)
  • How to study your poker game and plug your leaks
  • How to setup your HUD and find the fish
  • How to rapidly move up the micros (Your one year blueprint for success)
  • How to overcome bad beats and stop tilting
And so much more.

The Micro Stakes Playbook not only covers the exact strategies that I have personally used for over a decade now to crush the micros, but it also covers many of the top aspects of the game that I know are causing you the most trouble.

I know this from coaching hundreds of people at these limits over the years and receiving thousands of emails and comments on my blog posts. I have been listening to exactly what is holding YOU back at these stakes and taking notes.

Also, these strategies are the result of analyzing millions and millions of my own hands in PokerTracker in order to find out exactly what works and what doesn't at these stakes. I show you how to do this step by step for yourself in the book by the way as well.

The purpose behind every strategy in this book is to increase your winnings (or to get you winning) at the poker tables right now.

And this really is the key difference between this poker book and almost every other one out there. I don't write "theory." I don't write stories. And I don't write to entertain you either.

I wrote The Micro Stakes Playbook in order to improve your bottom line at the poker tables. That's it. The entire point of this book is for you to take these strategies to the tables yourself and start winning with them immediately.

This is the #1 reason why my previous books have proven to be so insanely popular despite the fact that I am 100% self-published, do absolutely no marketing and only release them on this tiny little website.

Results are what actually matter in this game. We keep score with money. Winning ends all doubt. And that is what my books teach people to do.

The best "thank you" emails that I receive are from people who tell me how my strategies took them from a losing poker player to breakeven or from a small winner to a huge winner. They often send me their graph as "proof" as well.

I want to see YOUR winning graph next!

Simple Poker Strategies That Work

The other thing that you will notice about The Micro Stakes Playbook is that there is barely any complicated math in it, no fancy new buzz words, no "game theory optimal" strategies or other such nonsense.

I get people coming to me all the time whose heads are literally spinning from all of the "theories" and complex formulas that they have been told that they need to know in order to beat the $5 games online.

My approach to the game has always been a lot more simple and down to earth. And this is because I know from first hand experience that you don't need to know any of this stuff in order to crush the lower limits.

This is the micros that we are talking about after all!

This is where you are going to find some of the weakest players on the planet. You do not need to re-invent the wheel in order to beat them. You don't need any 10th level thinking that will go right over their heads either.

What you need instead are simple and proven strategies to exploit the numerous mistakes that your opponents will make at these limits.

So this is why in The Micro Stakes Playbook you are going to find common sense strategies that work against real people in real games at the micro stakes.

Nothing more and nothing less.

How to Get Your Copy of The Micro Stakes Playbook

The Micro Stakes Playbook is available starting today on my website. It is available in PDF format only for now. Mobi and Epub versions will be added in the near future. Once these are released they will be made available free of charge to all previous buyers.

The other thing about The Micro Stakes Playbook is that it won't cost you an arm and a leg either. I could easily charge $100 or more for this book. After all, I have made tens of thousands of dollars at the poker tables using these exact strategies.

But it won't cost you anywhere near that much. You can pick up your copy of The Micro Stakes Playbook today at the special new release price of just $29.95

Click "Add to Cart" below in order to get instant access.

The Micro Stakes Playbook by BlackRain79

Screenshots (Click to Enlarge)

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The Micro Stakes Playbook preview
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Free Bonuses Included With The Micro Stakes Playbook

Pick up your copy of The Micro Stakes Playbook today and you will also receive these free bonuses.

1. The Starting Hand Cheat Sheets
These cheat sheets will tell you exactly what hands to play from every position in both 6-Max, Full Ring and Zoom games online.

These are ideal especially for a beginner who doesn't quite know the basics yet. This guide takes the guesswork out of it for you.

These "cheat sheets" will tell you exactly which hands to play from each position. They also tell you exactly how much to make your bet sizes.

2. The Ultimate Zoom Poker Strategy Guide
This all new ebook provides you with a complete guide on how to adjust your strategy in 6-max and full ring Zoom poker games (Snap, Fast Forward and Zone as well).

Never before has anyone written a complete strategy book for how to dominate Zoom games with several highly detailed example hands to help guide you through as well.

This comprehensive Zoom poker strategy book is ONLY available as a free bonus for purchasers of The Micro Stakes Playbook.

3. Lifetime Access to my Private Forum
The Micro Stakes Playbook bonus
I have a private forum which is only available for purchasers of my books. Here you can ask me any questions that you want about the material and get feedback on your play.

You can also post your own hand histories and get advice from me personally and others as well.

*Create a free account on my forum and then make a quick post in "Access to the Private Forums" in order to gain access.


Don't miss your opportunity to start turning your results around at the micros today. The Micro Stakes Playbook is available for a limited time at the special new release price of just $29.95

For the cost of only a buyin or two at the lower limits you can start learning the strategies that will quickly get you beating these games and making a nice side income (or even a full-time one in some cases) playing the game that you already love.

In fact with some of the plays in this book I even show you exactly how much it will increase your winnings. If you play poker even semi-regularly, then this can easily add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars per month.

Pickup your copy of The Micro Stakes Playbook today and you will also receive:
  • A free copy of "The Starting Hand Cheat Sheets" AND "The Ultimate Zoom Poker Strategy Guide"
  • Lifetime access to my private member's only forum where you can post your hands and get direct feedback from myself and others.

Don't keep spinning your tires at these stakes for years on end. Learn the proven winning strategies today to start crushing the micros and quickly moving up the stakes.

Download The Micro Stakes Playbook

Purchasing Options

1) Purchasing with a Credit Card or Debit Card

Click "Add to Cart" above. Choose "Checkout with Paypal"

Buy The Micro Stakes Playbook BlackRain79

On the next screen select "Pay with Debit or Credit Card"

2) Purchasing with Paypal

Click "Add to Cart" above. Choose "Checkout with Paypal" and then enter your Paypal details on the next page.

3) Purchasing with Skrill

Send $29.95 to and then send me a quick email at this same address. I will then send you your copy of The Micro Stakes Playbook ASAP.

If you have any questions concerning the payment process please email me at and I will get back to you ASAP.


The Micro Stakes Playbook

Pages: 271
Word Count: 49,443
Format: PDF (Mobi and Epub to be added soon)
Copyright © 2017 by Nathan Williams

Final Thoughts

Writing a poker book is a little bit like climbing a mountain. Several of them in fact. The road often seems to be straight uphill and the inspiration comes and goes. This is probably why it has been over three years since I released the last one!

But it is only due to you guys (and a few gals too) that I have now been able to complete this project, my third book. I want to thank each and every one of you who continue to read my blog posts every week and support my work so much.

I want to thank the now 10k+ people on my free newsletter as well which is an even more mind blowing number!

The encouragement and support that you guys provide me is the main reason why I am able to do this. It is absolutely amazing how much this little blog has grown over the years into one of the top visited websites on the internet for micro stakes poker strategy today.

Going forward you can expect the same in depth weekly articles on how to crush the micros. That really has been the bread and butter of this website for years and I have no plans to stop.

Thanks as always for reading and all the best at the poker tables!

-- Nathan "BlackRain79" Williams
Nathan "BlackRain79" Williams
If you have any questions about The Micro Stakes Playbook feel free to leave them below.

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