How to Exploit Micro Stakes Poker Regs (2020)

How to Exploit Micro-Stakes Regs
This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Kieran “KieHa” Harding.

How do you win at poker? At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: you need to play better than your opponents.

The easiest way to do this is obviously to find games with weak players. Even in today’s “tough” games, you can still find many players who are just bad at poker.

They don’t take the time to study or improve their game and they make incredibly bad plays on a regular basis. You don’t have to be Phil Ivey to win against these guys!

However, no matter how well you table-select, the majority of your opponents will still be players who take the game at least somewhat seriously.

If you really want to maximize your profits and crush the games, you will therefore need to find ways to outplay these “regs”.

The good news is that unless you’re playing mid stakes or higher, the majority of regs you face will have plenty of weaknesses you can exploit. If there is such a thing as the perfect poker player, you won’t find him/her in the NL2 or NL5 games.

Today I will give you some tips on how you can use your knowledge of the regs against them. If you come prepared, you will find that you can absolutely crush players who look solid at first glance.

Here are the best ways to exploit micro-stakes regs.


Identify Good Spots to Exploit Micro-Stakes Regs


The first thing you need to do is identify spots where you can exploit regulars in your current games. If you’re playing micro or small stakes, then almost every reg you’ll come across will play a TAG style.

This is exactly the style of play that BlackRain79 teaches in his free poker cheat sheet for example.

As you probably know, TAG stands for tight and aggressive. So what strategy do these players use? First, they play tight, meaning they only choose relatively strong hands to play preflop.

Second, they play aggressive. That means they frequently bluff in spots they deem profitable.
It’s the second part that we will exploit.

That’s because we can easily anticipate various situations where a TAG player will be bluffing with a very high frequency. If we develop the right counter strategy, we can use these situations to our advantage.

The great thing about micro-stakes regs who use a TAG style is that they don’t plan much further than their initial strategy. They have a plan for certain spots, but if they face resistance, they are usually willing to just give it up.

They know that overall, these plays are still profitable even though they sometimes don’t work. Below are some examples for good spots to exploit micro-stakes regs.


Reg Makes a Flop C-Bet


The perfect example for a spot where we can exploit regs is the flop c-bet. If a TAG player raised preflop and got called, he will c-bet any dry flop with almost his entire range. He will only check if he has a hand with showdown value, such as middle pair.

Just think about this for a second. You know in advance what your opponent will do and what range of hands he will do it with. With this in mind, it’s pretty easy to exploit this situation and turn it into a profitable spot for yourself.

There are two ways you can do this:
  • You can raise the player’s c-bet on the flop.
  • You can call the c-bet (also known as “floating”) and bluff the turn and/or river.

Both options will work a high percentage of the time. Moreover, even if your bluff-raise gets called, you can often still win the pot by following up with a good-sized bet on the next street.

One thing you should keep in mind here are your opponent’s stats. If he is never calling flop-raises but chooses to call yours, then it might be time to shut down.

Your float-bets on the turn will get called a little more frequently since the don’t look so dangerous. If your float-bet on the turn gets called, then a big river bet usually does the trick.

You can go read BlackRain79's complete guide to floating the flop and betting the turn profitably right here.


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Reg Makes a Late-Position Steal


Another great spot for exploiting the micro stakes regs is after they open-raise in late position. This is very often a bluff with a less than stellar hand. You can 3-bet these raises quite liberally and expect to turn a profit.

Great hands to 3-bet with in these spots are small suited aces (e.g. A3s or A5s). There are a few reasons for this:

  • Having an ace will make it less likely your opponent has aces or a big ace like AK.
  • If you get called, you usually have good equity in the hand. 
  • Even against big pairs like QQ or KK you are around 30% to win the pot.


With these hands, you can flop great draws and continue putting pressure on your opponent after the flop.

A word of caution in regards to 3-betting steal attempts: many regs are aware of what you’re doing when you 3-bet them light in these spots. You should only use this play against opponents with a high fold to 3-bet percentage (60% or more).

For more on HUD stats like this by the way, check out BlackRain79's complete guide to the best HUD stats for today's games.

Also, it is much better to put in the 3-bet while in position. This will make it much harder for your opponent to defend profitably against the 3-bet.

Calling a 3-bet from out of position is usually a bad idea, so his options are basically 4-bet or fold. For this reason, the best spot to make this play is when you’re on the button and a reg raised from the hijack or cutoff.

Since this play has been around for a while, you have to use it with caution. However, if you choose the right opponents, you can make a lot of money by 3-betting them light preflop.


LAG Player Triple Barrels


This play is one of my favourites when playing against LAG players. These are the guys who watched Tom Dwan on High Stakes Poker and want to emulate his aggressive style.

Basically, these players love to put pressure on their opponents whenever they can. If you don’t know how to defend against them, they can be very tough to play against and will put you in lots of tricky spots.

Here is my game plan against LAG players: I refuse to fold.

There are many situations where you can expect a LAG player to barrel all three streets with a weak range. Usually, this happens when they c-bet the flop and then a big card hits on the turn or river.

Here is an example:

You’re on the button in an NL10 6max game.
The LAG player opens from the hijack and you decide to call with AJ♣.

The flop comes 3♠7J♠. Your opponent c-bets and you call.

The turn is the K♣. Your opponent barrels and you call.

The river is the T and your opponent bets full pot.

In this spot, I would call every single time (provided my opponent is a true LAG player).

The reason why is that this board is perfect for LAG players to run a multi-street bluff. They know that we will call them light with a wide range on the flop.

When the K hits on the turn they can barrel and expect plenty of folds. When most of the draws brick on the river, the LAG will think that we have to fold any one-pair hand to a big bet.

I would expect a LAG player to triple barrel with a huge portion of his range in this spot, making my second pair a very trivial call.

A couple of things to keep in mind here: if you think about calling down big bluffs like these, you have to be sure that your opponent really is playing a LAG style. Look for an aggression factor (AF) of 3 and higher and also a high frequency of turn and river bets.

Also, you will sometimes run into a bigger hand and lose a sizeable pot. To be honest, this can make you feel like an idiot since you misread your opponent’s hand and basically go outplayed.

The important thing is to avoid going on tilt in these spots. Usually your play was profitable against your opponent’s overall range. If he happens to have you beat in this spot, it is often just bad luck.

Learning how to play profitably against highly aggressive players like this is a vital skill to learn in today's games.

For much more on how to crush the micro stakes LAGs, check out The Upswing Poker Lab.


Final Thoughts


There’s no way around it: if you truly want to maximize your poker win rate, you have to learn how to beat the regulars in your game.

While I always advise to play against weaker players whenever possible, you should not ignore the regs completely.

Instead of avoiding the “stronger” players in your game, identify their weaknesses and exploit them. For most micro-stakes regs, their biggest weakness is that they play a predictable, almost robotic style.

There are countless situations where you can anticipate what they will do and develop a counter strategy.

As always, it’s crucial to know as much about your opponents as possible. You shouldn’t even think about running a big bluff if your opponent doesn’t like to fold. Likewise, don’t call down big bets unless your opponent is a confirmed LAG player.

If you choose the right situations and opponents, you can use your knowledge about their strategy against them.

And always remember: if a play happens to go wrong, it’s not the end of the world. See if you can learn from it and move on. The only mistake is going on tilt and losing even more money.

If you want to learn the complete strategy for crushing the micro stakes regs, make sure you grab a copy of the free BlackRain79 poker cheat sheet.

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This article was written by small and mid stakes poker expert Kieran "KieHa" Harding. Kieran is an accomplished poker pro and coach. You can find many more high level poker strategy articles on his website: www.kiehapoker.com

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Make sure you let me know in the comments below how you play against the micro stakes regs. Do you have any killer strategies to crush them?

How to Exploit Micro-Stakes Poker Regs

5 comments:

  1. Excellent article as always! Beating the regs is so key to getting ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great article and while we're on the subject I've got a question for you. Regs & P-fish pull this move every so often in the micros and I was wondering in your experience if this is ever a bluff or is this almost always the nuts?

    *Usually the hand revolves around 100-150bb effective stack

    -Hero calls a preflop raise IP
    -Hero takes initiative on the flop by 3betting villains cbet and villain calls.
    -Villain then check calls a hefty raise on the turn
    -Villain then leads out river w/a shove

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Ian,

      This is a classic spot and usually indicates strength versus a reg. I am usually folding unless I have a very big hand.

      Versus a fish it is different. It is important to know the difference between a passive fish (most of them), and an aggro/bluffy fish.

      Versus the latter I will sometimes call with top pair, sometimes weaker. Versus the former, I will often fold unless they are on tilt.

      Overall though, it is not easy to answer this question without a lot more specifics. I hope this helps nonetheless.

      Delete
    2. In general I would say, its a nutted line, especially if the texture changed. Like he was drawing to a flush, flush got there, and he goes for the donk shove, because its his best chance to get paid. If all the draws missed, and the river card is a complete brick, it looks more like a bluff.

      Delete