21 Proven Strategies That Will Double Your Poker Winrate in 2018

21 Proven Strategies That Will Double Your Poker Winrate in 2018

With the new year already well under way this can either be the year that you finally start making it happen for real in poker or continuing along with mediocre results like most people do.

I know that for me personally I play this game to achieve the highest winrates possible. Basically my goal is always to absolutely crush the games. 

Poker is not only a lot more fun to play this way, but much more profitable as well. 

So in this article I am going to give you my top 21 proven strategies that will at least double your poker winrate at the micros in 2018.

No more breakeven. No more flatline graphs. Let's go!


1. Hammer on the Nits


A "Nit" is an overly tight and generally fearful poker player. You see them absolutely everywhere at the micros these days online especially at stakes like NL2, NL5 and NL10. 

They will have HUD stats of something like 11/9/2 in full ring and 17/15/2 in 6max. 

Now you are never going to really "crush" these players because they simply play too tight to ever make that many huge mistakes. But many people still miss out on so much extra value versus them. 

You should be absolutely pounding on the Nits and what I mean by this is constantly stealing their blinds, light 3Betting them, CBetting them and so on. 

Basically just keep applying pressure again and again until they finally take a stand and fight back. At that point, you give them credit and back down, unless you have a huge hand, because they usually aren't messing around.


2. Hero Call the TAGs


Now as you climb up the micros a little bit more you will start to encounter some better players such as TAGs (tight and aggressive) and even LAGs (loose and aggressive) too. 

These players will be more active, playing more hands, and they won't be as timid as the Nits either. This means that they will have a lot more bluffs in their range. 

And quite frankly these days, often it is too many bluffs. So what is the answer here? Start hero calling them more often with hands like top pair or even middle pair. 

Everybody gets dealt the same amount of good and bad hands in poker. When they are constantly betting and raising, they simply can't have it every time.

This also lets them know that you aren't like every other weak reg out there who is just going to allow them to run you over. 


3. Abuse the Fish


As I have discussed on this blog many times, you need to be absolutely abusing the heck out of the fish these days as well. 

This means that you should be isolating them almost every time they limp and then sticking a CBet in their face. 

Now you can't just bet, bet, bet against them though like the Nits because the recreational players love to hit their call button. In fact one of the biggest thrills they get in poker is catching you in a big bluff.

But you also have to remember that you will miss the flop 2 out of 3 times with an average hand. Therefore, most of the time they don't actually have much of anything. 

Get involved with the fish as much as possible, apply pressure in the right spots and watch your winrate skyrocket.


4. Get on Tables With the Rec Players


Anyone who reads my blog regularly also knows that I beat this next point to death all the time. And for good reason. You can't abuse the fish and create a massive winrate at the micros unless they are on your table in the first place!

In fact, playing against recreational players is the entire reason why this game is so profitable. They lose their money at least 5x faster than the very worst regs. It doesn't take any kind of a math whiz to see why they are so good for your winrate then.

Play against the fish and improve your poker winrate in 2018

Make sure that you are taking table selection very seriously in 2018. You simply cannot afford to ignore this anymore. 

And as I talked about in last week's article, playing Zoom is NOT an excuse anymore either. I outlined in that article exactly how you table select in fast fold games like Zoom, Snap, Fast Forward etc.

Bottom line, if you truly want to start winning big in poker, then you will put in the effort.


5. Don't Miss Value Bets


One of the biggest technical problems that I see many micro stakes players making is missing value bets. This is especially the case on the river. 

You have to remember that with the best winrates only being 5bb/100 in some cases these days especially at NL25+, every time you miss that 5bb bet on the river (that they would have called), this is literally the difference between you being a break even player versus an elite winner.

If you think that there is any chance they make a call with a worse hand, make the value bet. You don't need to bet big, 1/3 pot will often do just fine. 


6. Start Thinking Meta-Game


Many micro stakes players fail to realize that every decision that they make at the poker tables has large implication on future hands as well. 

For instance, by making more value bets like I just discussed you immediately give yourself a much more aggressive table image. 

Anyone who is using a HUD will immediately start seeing that your AF (aggression factor) is rising. What does this ultimately mean? They think that you are betting too often which means more loose calls in the future when you want it!

Always remember to think about the meta-game especially versus the regs in 2018. Always be selling the story to them that you are a bit of a loose cannon and you will get more loose calls in the future when you want them. 


7. Stop Overplaying Mediocre Hands (Use a Polarized Range Instead)


A huge problem that I see lower stakes players continually making is overplaying hands like middle pair or a weak top pair. 

You do not need to balance your range perfectly at the micros in order to succeed. Most of the time when you are betting or raising you should have a polarized range consisting of really strong hands or semi-bluffs.

With your mid range hands like top pair no kicker and middle pair, you want to be check/calling and bluff catching instead.

Polarized betting ranges will improve your poker winrate in 2018

Make it a point this year to stop getting yourself into crazy situations in hugely bloated pots with mediocre hands where you have no idea where you are at.

You accomplish that by pot controlling more often with these hands and either seeing a cheap showdown or folding.


8. Read the Situation Better Preflop


The same thing goes for preflop. I see so many players auto-3Betting with hands like JJ or TT and I would be willing to bet that they often don't even know why. 

There are many preflop situations, such as when a Nit raises in EP (early position), where re-raising with these hands is actually about the worst thing that you can do. 

The reason why is because all you do is fold out all hands that you crush and get re-raised by all hands that crush you. In other words, it's a lose/lose result for you.

You want to try and avoid situations like this in poker at all costs!

So make sure that you take your time with preflop situations and really assess the ranges. Do not just auto-3Bet or auto-4Bet because you have a really strong hand. It might be better to just call it this particular situation.


9. Flat Wider Preflop


Another strategy that is highly effective these days at the micros is flatting wider especially in position versus the bad regs (Nits, TAGfish etc.) and then outplaying them after the flop. 

In fact, I think as much as half of my new book is probably devoted to this topic because I feel like this is such a massive new profit source at the lower stakes these days.

So what do I mean by flatting wider?

I mean that any time I see a weaker reg (or a fish of course) open in early or middle position, then I am going to be flatting them in position with all sorts of highly speculative hands like:
  • Broadways
  • Small and Mid Suited Aces
  • Suited Connectors
  • Suited One Gappers
  • Suited Two Gappers

This is in addition to everything else which is more standard to call with like small and mid pairs, big aces etc.

Bottom line, there are so many regs in today's games that you simply have to get involved more often with them in order to create truly elite profits in these games. You can't do this by folding.

So opening up your range a bit especially in position is a great place to start. 


10. 4Bet Bluff the Good Regs


Something else that I also talk about a fair bit on this blog and in my books is creating a 4Bet bluffing range versus the better regs like the TAGs and LAGs.

Once again, if they are going to be betting and raising frequently, then we know that they simply can't have it every time. A little bit of pushback in the right spots is therefore often all it takes to win some easy pots against them.

So this is why I am a big fan of turning hands like small suited Aces into a 4Bet bluff against them sometimes.

Not only do these hands block other ace hands but they can also make the nut flush, the wheel straight and of course top pair as well.

What this means is that even if you happen to run into a strong pair like KK, QQ or JJ you are still going to have well over 30% equity.

4Bet bluff the regs with small suited aces

This is a lot better position to be in than a hand like TT for instance which barely has 20% equity.

How to improve your poker winnings in 2018


11. Float the Flop Like a Champion


Long gone are the days where you can expect to crush the micros with a Fold to Flop CBet% of 70+. You still see many Nits and TAGfish playing like this, but virtually no top winners do. 

The biggest winners these days at the micros are folding much less often, as low as 40% in some cases. 

Now the best hands to starting floating the flop more often with are hands like:
  • Two Overs
  • Backdoor Flush Draw
  • Gutshot Straight Draw

Basically you just always want to make sure that you have a little bit of equity in your back pocket. You can't win in poker by folding. You have to start calling more often and playing a little bit of poker.


12. Bet When They Check

Float the flop and bet the turn to improve your poker winnings in 2018
So what happens after you float the flop with your gutshot straight draw, totally brick it on the turn, and they check to you?

You bet!

Many micro stakes regs these days forget that the entire point of a float on the flop is to bet the turn when they check to you. It literally does not even matter what you have. 

You can't win in poker by checking and waiting to make a hand either. When an opportunity is presented to you to win a pot, take it. 


13. Play the Player


Something else you should be doing though is tailoring your decisions to the player you are playing against. This is why I constantly talk about how important using a HUD is these days at the micros. 

I don't really want to be floating wide versus a guy who CBets the flop, turn and river 50%+ for instance. Instead I want to look for the weaker reg who CBets the flop and then gives up consistently on the later streets if he doesn't have anything. 

And the same thing goes for any other decisions as well. Always be aware of the type of player you are playing against (i.e. tight, aggressive, loose, passive) and adjust your play accordingly versus them. 


14. Be Unpredictable


Now at the same time, you don't want to allow the other regs to ever get a read on you either. This is why I often alternate between playing a tight and aggressive game and a loose and aggressive crazy style these days. 

This also completely screws with their HUD stats and any notes that they may have on me. They don't know if this is the day that I will be playing tight and betting for value or if I am raising every pot and bluffing them constantly. 

Check out my guide on transitioning from TAG to LAG for more on this. 


15. Mess With the Regs


Another slightly controversial suggestion that I have made before on this blog is to basically screw with the regs and piss them off. 

So what this means in practice is that I will pick one reg (usually a weaker one) who I happen to have position on on several tables. 

I will then just go ahead and start 3Betting or 4Betting him every time he opens the pot and constantly bluffing and raising after the flop as well. I will even show a few bluffs.

He will eventually adjust and I will tone it down. But they will often remember that I went out of my way to screw with them on this one occasion for a very long time.

I often get all sorts of crazy loose calls (when I want them) weeks or even months later down the line.


16. Put Everyone on Tilt

Put poker players on tilt to increase your poker winrate
So it isn't just the regs that I use this strategy against either. My goal at the poker tables these days is to put as many people on tilt as possible. 

In an age when most people play fairly "solid" as they say, then you have to start getting them off their games in other ways in order to really break through.

Luckily, most small stakes regs are still pretty weak in the mental side of the game and you can make them crack pretty easily. 

So whether this is table talk, hollywooding/stalling, constantly bluffing them like I just talked about or anything else within the rules of the game that will piss them off, I am going to do it. 

Heck, if the poker site allows you to use an image, I will often choose something that tilts many people like Justin Bieber and call myself something ridiculous like "#1BiebsFan" as well.

Bottom line: I will take any edge I can get. Poker is mental warfare. Use any and all tools to your advantage. 


17. Slay the Fish


Many micro stakes players to this day are still so charitable to the fish. They let them get off the hook easy again and again!

I literally cringe every time I see some reg only get half the fish's stack when he coolers him with something like AA vs QQ on a raggy board like 55278.

This is literally one of the biggest reasons why they do not have the same winrate as me in these games. I don't let the fish keep 50bb here.

I stack them every single time.

I showed this in the NL2 video series that I put out recently stacking the same fish over and over again in situations where most other regs would let him keep more of his money.

No more slow-playing or tiny bets versus the fish in 2018. They either have something to call you with or they do not. You do not have any control over that.

Your job is simply to always give them the opportunity to make the big mistake. 


18. Learn Through Experience


Another reason why my winrates at the micros over the years have been consistently higher than almost everybody else is because I have simply played way more hands than almost everybody else!

When you play 10 million+ hands of poker you are going to start seeing the same situations over and over and over again. This is bound to make you learn and improve.

It also makes the game much easier to play because you don't need to think so much about common situations. You just "know" what the best play is because it is seared into your brain from memory.

The very best players in the world almost always have one thing in common: they are seemingly always at the poker tables playing poker!

If you are serious about improving your poker winrate in 2018, then you need to develop the kind of world class work ethic that the pros have.

Just grind.


19. Ignore Almost Everyone


There is so much free (and not free) poker information out there these days that it is getting slightly ridiculous. Everybody and their dog has an opinion and their "two cents" of advice for you now.

Unfortunately, not all two cents were created equal though. Most people actually lose at poker in the long run.

My suggestion then is to find a few select resources that you trust and just listen to them. This especially means people who have had proven success at the stakes that you actually play at.

You should also look to network and form friendships or even study groups with other proven winning players.


20. Tame the Tilt Beast


One of the most effective ways to immediately start increasing your winrate at the micros is to simply stop tilting so much. 

In fact one of my most popular articles from last year was how I made $800 more a month at the lower stakes by simply focusing on reducing the tilt and spew in my game. 

My advice would be to take a real and honest assessment of just how much you are losing through tilty play like I discuss in that article. 

You can easily do this in PokerTracker or Hold'em Manager by filtering for hands that you lost which were a substantial size (i.e. 20bb or more). From there you can add up just how much of the losses was due to poor play/tilt versus legitimate bad luck or coolers. 

The number will probably end up shocking you and possibly get you to finally start taming the tilt beast. I know it did for me. 


21. All-In


Confidence is one of the most powerful weapons that you have at the poker tables. All of the top players have it in spades. 

Most of them have an ego bordering on arrogance in fact. You should absolutely believe and know that you are the best player at the table every time you sit down to play. 

This is also why it is so important to go all-in with playing and studying this game like a beast. I really just can't even repeat that point enough.

You can't be a "dabbler" like most people if you want to truly be successful at poker. As I have discussed before, in my first several years as a pro especially, this is literally all I did.

Poker was my entire life.

This builds a level of experience and preparation where the self-belief just comes naturally. I know that I have played way more hands and worked way harder on my game away from the tables than they have. 

This gives me the confidence to make the right play and believe in my instincts every single time. 


Final Thoughts


Achieving real poker results at the micros and doubling your winrate this year in 2018 is by no means some unattainable goal. It doesn't require any sort of magic wand or secret formula either.

The reality is that consistently beating the micros just comes down applying the basics again and again, not tilting and playing against the fish. And perhaps most importantly, simply wanting it more than the next guy.

Hopefully some of the other ideas in this article will also help you increase your poker winrate this year though.

Let me know your best strategies for crushing the micros in 2018 in the comments below. Did I miss anything above?

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

improve poker winrate

14 comments:

  1. Great article as always Nathan. Love the putting people on tilt parts!

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  2. Top stuff Nathan , your the only Poker advice I regularly follow to improve on my game . Bravo

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Gavin, glad I could help!

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  3. So many useful information, thank you Nathan good luck both in poker and life keep up the excellent work!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks EL Greco you too :)

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  4. Love the content.
    Question: In a sit n go, if there is a big stack to my immediate left, and Im opening with a fairly solid range and he flats me, how do I proceed if I miss the flop? Lately I have been having trouble getting them to lay down after my c-bet

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love the content.
    Question: In a sit n go, with a big stack to my immediate left, and I'm opening with a fairly solid range and he just flats, how do I proceed? When I miss the flop,I feel like my cbets aren't getting through. I keep getting called on the flop with my cbet. It's making it hard to steal and chip away at other nits.
    How do I approach this situation?
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Kent glad you enjoy!

      I am not a sit n go expert, I primarily play cash games. I know that the exact chip counts, or at least the effective bb's, matter a lot in sngs and tournies though. So it is not easy to comment without having this information.

      In general, I would open with a tight range here. And if he isn't folding then I will either bet/shove or check/shove if I have any equity. If I literally flop nothing at all, then I will just check/fold.

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  6. I'm so glad I found you and your books/articles!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Mike, glad I could help :)

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  7. Anonymous20 January

    Nathan there is something I can't understand at the 2NL full-ring I play.

    I can recognize the nits (players who play a VPIP<12) or the retards (players who play a VPIP>35), but at these stakes I constantly see guys with weird stats like:

    -15/10/4 (VPIP/PFR/AF), 3bet:2, ATS:10.....!
    -29/0/1
    -14/12/4, 3bet:0, Fold-to-Steal 100....!
    -34/24/3.75, Cbet on the Flop:82%
    -23/9/0.67.....!

    I'm sure you will have seen them. They have 2 or 3 stats ok, but the rest don't make any sense. How we categorize these guys?

    For example the 23/9/0.67 guy isn't a nit, and he isn't an aggromonkey too (he plays with a VPIP of 23).

    Or the 14/12/4 guy. For full-ring the VPIP/PFR seems good. But the other stats (3bet:0 ???).

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    Replies
    1. Ya I know these types show up at NL2 a lot. I often call them SLP which stands for semi-loose passive in the case of the 23/9 for instance. Not a full blown fish but not somebody who is very good either, almost always a small losing player.

      Same thing with the 15/10 guy with a 3bet of 2%. Regular player but probably not a very good one, probably small loser also.

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    2. Anonymous22 January

      Good points! Most important think I will keep in mind is that these players are small losers.

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