6 Low Stakes Poker Tips the Pros Don't Want You to Know

6 Low Stakes Poker Tips They Don't Want You to Know

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

You don’t have to be a high stakes poker pro to make money in this game. There’s decent money to be made even at the lower stakes, but only if you follow the right strategy.

In this article, you’ll find out about some lesser known strategies you can use to dominate the low stakes poker games. 

There’s a lot of ground to cover on this one, so let’s get right into it.

1. Abuse the Button at Low Stakes Poker Games

Most of the money you’ll make in poker will come from the late positions at the table (namely the cutoff and the button). 

Chances are, you’ll be surprised by just how much more money you make from playing on the button than on the other table positions.

That’s because when you’re playing on the button, you will ALWAYS play in position post flop. 

Playing in position is a huge advantage to have for multiple reasons:

A) You have more information than your opponents. 

By being the last to act, you get to see what they did, and they have no idea what you are going to do.

B) You can control the size of the pot. 

If you’re the last to act, you get the final say at the size of the pot. 

If you have a strong hand, you can bet or raise to inflate the pot size, and if you have a mediocre or a drawing hand, you can call or check behind to keep the pot size smaller.

C) You can bluff more effectively. 

Since it’s harder to play out of position due to the informational disadvantage, players will be less likely to fight back for pots. This means you can push them out of pots more easily with a well-timed bluff.

Even if you’re not aware of just how powerful playing in position is, you’re still likely to win a lot more money when you’re playing in position.

Now, imagine how much more money you could earn if you consciously made an effort to fully take advantage of playing in late positions, specifically on the button.

6 Low Stakes Poker Tips the Pros Don't Want You to Know

In fact, one of the best ways to look at playing on the button is that you should all but abuse that position.

This means playing a significantly wider range on the button compared to any other position at the table.

If you know the basics of the winning poker strategy, you know that your best bet is to play a tight range and value bet your strong hands relentlessly.

But what a lot of players get wrong is that they fail to adjust their ranges based on their table position. It’s true that you should play tight, especially at the early positions at the table.

But as you get progressively closer to the button, you should start loosening up your ranges.

This means open-raising a lot more hands, even the ones that aren’t necessarily considered strong hands.

The power of position in poker is so great that if often allows you to play even mediocre hands profitably.

For example, if you’re playing on the button, and you have weak and/or tight players in the blinds, you can often get away with open raising as much as 50% of all starting hands!

This may seem like an insanely wide range, and playing some of the hands in this range in any other position at the table is not likely to be profitable.

But the button is a whole different story. 

Of course, you should use your judgment, and not open-raise just about any random trash hand. Also, if your opponents in the blinds are aggressive and likely to fight back with a lot of 3-bets, you should exercise more caution and tighten up.

But if not, you’d be surprised with what you can get away with on the button.

Even if your blind stealing attempts don’t succeed, you’ll still play the rest of the hand in position, meaning you can try to take down the pot on future streets if you keep applying enough pressure.

Playing a wider range on the button is one of the easiest ways to transition to a loose and aggressive (LAG) player. 

Check out my other article for a full guide on how to play a loose and aggressive (LAG) poker style.

Also, check out my latest video on the 5 most profitable hands you need to play more often.

2. Don’t Slowplay at the Low Stakes Poker Games

When playing low stakes games, your best bet is usually to play tight and value bet your strong hands.

To value bet means to bet or raise when your hand is comfortably ahead of your opponent’s calling range. 

In other words, you believe you have the best hand, so you’re hoping to get action from weaker hands.

A lot of players make the mistake of slowplaying their strong hands instead. 

To slowplay means to play your hand passively (i.e check and call) instead of aggressively in order to conceal your hand strength.

While slowplaying can be a viable strategy in some situations, it’s usually not the best idea in low stakes games. Here’s a couple of reasons why.

First of all, slowplaying can work great if you can rely on your opponent to build up the pot for you. 

So if you’re up against a very aggressive player, slowplaying can work because you’re allowing them to put chips into the middle for you.

6 Low Stakes Poker Tips the Pros Don't Want You to Know

But since a lot of players at the lower stakes tend to play passively, slowplaying is usually not the best strategy. 

That’s because you can’t rely on your opponent to build up the pot for you, which is the basic idea behind slowplaying.

Another situation when slowplaying works is in spots where you have a really strong hand, so you slowplay in order to allow your opponent to “catch up” hand-strength-wise, so they’ll be more inclined to give you action on future streets.

This makes slowplaying a suboptimal strategy in low stakes games, because players in these games tend to overcall, so there’s no reason to slowplay, as they will gladly give you action in a lot of situations.

To overcall means to call more often than would be considered optimal.

A lot of players at the lower stakes like to call a lot, chase all kinds of draws, make wild “hero calls” and so on.

So the best tactic to use against these players is to just play your strong hands straightforwardly, and let them make the mistake of overcalling when they should be folding instead.

This is discussed in more detail in Modern Small Stakes.

If your opponent is willing to give you action with weaker hands, slowplaying just means leaving money at the table.

This is important because failing to build up the pot early on in the hand leads to a significantly smaller pot at the end of the hand.

Conversely, building up the pot early on can snowball into a much larger pot at the end of the hand.

This is known as the pot geometry, where the initial differences in bet size dramatically influence the final size of the pot. 

Example Hand #1

Let’s look at an example to illustrate this.

You open-raise to 3x from the SB (small blind) with A♥️Q♠️ and get called by the BB (big blind).

Pot size on the flop: 6 BB.



You check the flop, bet full pot on the turn, then bet full pot on the river. 

Final pot size: 54 BB

Now, let’s take a look at a different action sequence.

Pot size on the flop: 6 BB

You bet a full pot on the flop, turn, and river.

Final pot size: 162 BB

By missing only a single round of betting, the final pot size is 3 times smaller than it would have been. 

This is what it means to leave money at the table. Failing to build up the pot early on makes it a lot harder to extract value later in the hand.

Some players may object that they don’t want to “scare off their opponents” by making big bets like in the example above.

But how are you ever going to get rich from poker if you don't win big pots?

Also again, players at the lower stakes, especially recreational players, tend to call inelastically. 

This means that the price they’re getting on a call doesn’t affect how often they continue the hand.

If they like their hand, they’ll continue playing it regardless of the price. If they don’t, no amount of slowplaying is going to compel them to put additional money into the pot.

Slowplaying can also backfire because you’re allowing your opponents to complete their draws for free and realize their hand equity.

Drawing hands are usually an underdog to a made hand on the flop equity-wise. So if you think you have the best hand on the flop, you should charge your opponents a premium if they want to chase their draws. 

Of course, if you have the stone cold nuts on the flop, you can consider slowplaying to let your opponent catch up. But this is very rarely the case. 

In most situations, your opponent is never drawing completely dead, and they almost always have some sort of hand equity.

So if they want to realize that equity, let them know that it’s going to cost them.

Check out Nathan’s article on spots where you should be slowplaying for more info on the topic.

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3. Don’t Bluff too Much in Low Stakes Poker Games

Bluffing is arguably the most exciting part of poker. There’s nothing quite like the rush of pushing your opponent out of the pot while holding absolute air.

While knowing how to bluff effectively is a crucial part of advanced poker strategy, it doesn’t work quite as well in low stakes games.

In order for your bluff to work, your opponent needs to be capable of folding. And in most low stakes games with plenty of recreational players around, a lot of players tend to overcall.

So if your opponent is overcalling, the worst thing you can do is try to bluff them frequently.

No matter how well thought out your bluff is, no matter how certain you are that they have a weak hand, bluffing recreational players is a bad idea.

There are a couple of reasons why recreational players love to call.

First of all, most recreational players have a very poor grasp of the mathematical side of poker. Some of them will try to justify this by proclaiming that they are more of a “feel player”, but that’s a very weak excuse.

Basic poker math is no more complicated than what you learn in grade school. If you know how to play poker, there’s no reason you can’t grasp the pot odds.

Then again, math is boring, and recreational players play for fun, so they just don’t bother with it.

This is why they are more likely to make costly mistakes like calling with unfavourable pot odds, and chase weak draws that aren’t likely to complete.

Another reason recreational players call too much is because they don’t understand the difference between relative and absolute hand strength.

Absolute hand strength refers to actual value of your hand combination, regardless of the board and other players.

For example, one pair is a weak hand, and a flush is a strong hand.

Relative hand strength, on the other hand, takes into account the board runout, and how strong your hand combination is relative to the board.

Example Hand #2

For example, let’s say you are dealt JT

The board runout is:


You have the nuts straight, i.e. the strongest possible combination on the board. You can’t lose unless you misread the board and accidentally fold.

Now, let’s look at another example. You are dealt JT again, but this time, the board runout is:


You also have a straight, but your hand is relatively weaker. There are a ton of hand combinations that can have you beat. There are multiple flushes that beat you, and the board is paired, so your opponent can even have a full house.

Recreational players tend to overvalue absolute hand strength, while failing to take their relative hand strength into account.

If they hold something that they perceive to be a strong hand (like a straight, a flush, or a full house), they won’t ever fold it, no matter how scary the board runout is.

So trying to bluff them, especially on wet, coordinated boards like in the example above, will often backfire.

The third reason why you shouldn’t bluff recreational players is the fact that they will sometimes call you down just because.

If they are tilting (something that recreational players are prone to do), they will call you down out of anger, out of spite, or out of sheer desperation. 

Some of them will call you down because they simply enjoy making huge hero calls, and they think everyone is out to bluff them all the time. 

Don’t prove them right.

Save your bluffs for players who are paying attention, and are actually capable of folding.

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4. Always Have a Fish on Your Right at Low Stakes Poker Games

In poker, most of the money you’ll earn will come from the recreational players. In order to maximize your winnings against them, you should aim to always have a recreational player on your direct right.

This way, you’ll play most of the hands in position against them, which will allow you to take advantage of their mistakes.

If you have the direct position on a recreational player, you can use isolation-raises (or iso-raises for short) to play a heads-up pot against them post flop.

A lot of recreational players make the mistake of open-limping. Open-limping means just paying the big blind instead of open-raising.

I won’t get into too much detail into why open-limpling is a bad play. You can check out my other article on common amateur poker mistakes you must avoid for more info on the topic.

Suffice it to say, when you see a player open-limping at the low stakes, it’s more than likely that they are a recreational player.

If you have a direct position on them, you should isolate them with an open-raise. As a default play, you should iso-raise to 4 big blinds.

If there have been more limpers, you can bump it up an additional big blind per limper. So 5 BB for two limpers, 6 for three limpers and so on.

Also, if there is only one limper who you’ve identified to be a giant fish, you can iso-raise to 5 or 6 BB if you have a strong value hand, like a premium pocket pair, for example.

Making your iso-raise bigger from the start of the hand will allow you to build up a bigger pot post flop.

This has to do with pot geometry: small changes in your initial bet sizing can dramatically change the final pot size.

Check out my other article on everything you need to know about preflop bet sizing for more info on the topic.

When you iso-raise, the goal is to get every other player to fold, and the open-limper to call. This way, you will play a heads-up pot in position, as the preflop aggressor.

This is statistically proven to be the most profitable money making spot in no-limit hold’em.

Chances are, you’d be surprised at just how much more money you earn in position as opposed to out of position.

One thing to be mindful of when iso-raising is the players left to act behind you. If there is a fish at your table, chances are that other players will also be aware of it. 

So when you iso-raise, other players may catch on to what you’re doing.

This means they can 3-bet you, which can put you in an awkward spot.

(A 3-bet preflop is a re-raise against another player’s open-raise.)

If there are aggressive 3-bettors behind you, you should think twice about iso-raising, and have a plan ready if you do get 3-bet.

If you expect a 3-bet, you can either give up the iso-raising altogether, or make your iso-raise smaller, so you’re getting a better risk-to-reward ratio.

Of course, if you have a very strong hand, you don’t have to worry about facing a 3-bet.

For more information about dealing with 3-bets and other advanced poker strategies, see my massive 3-betting cheat sheet guide.

5. Use a Hand Tracking Software for Online Low Stakes Poker Games

Poker is a game of incomplete information, and the player with the informational advantage is more likely to come out on top.

If you’re playing poker online, you don’t have the luxury of directly observing your opponents and picking up on physical tells.

However, players still give off information in online poker with their betting patterns, timing tells, and so on.

But at the end of the day, the best way to get information about your opponents is using cold hard data.

If you play poker online, consider investing in a hand tracking software like PokerTracker 4.

PokerTracker automatically imports hand history data from your preferred poker site, and gives you comprehensive stats about your game, as well as your opponents.

In order to improve your game, first you need to identify your leaks, which is very hard to do unless you have a reliable way of measuring your game in the first place.

With PokerTracker, you can keep track of hours and hands you’ve played, your winrate, your stats, and much more.

By filtering for specific in-game situations, you can see exactly where you’re bleeding money.

PokerTracker 4 also has an in-built feature called Leak Tracker, which shows you exactly where your stats fall out of norm from most winning players.

For example, if you are not c-betting the flop often enough, if you are 3-betting too much, or if you’re not being aggressive enough on the turn.

This means the guesswork is completely out of the equation. The software tells you exactly what you should be working on to improve your winrate.

Another benefit of PokerTracker is the heads-up display (HUD for short) that shows you your opponent’s stats in real time.

You can fully customize the HUD to show you the stats that are most relevant for you. Or you can just use the existing HUDs that show the most relevant stats.

PokerTracker 4 comes with a free trial, so there’s no reason not to give it a try. You wouldn’t want to play another session without it, guaranteed.

6. Have a Big, Fat Bankroll for Low Stakes Poker Games (30 buyins minimum)

Following these tips to a tee doesn’t automatically guarantee you success in this game. 

Even with proper game selection, you will experience prolonged losing periods from time to time. This can be especially frustrating if you’re playing against weaker competition. 

The fact that you’re the best poker player at your table doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win all the time, or even most of the time. 

Poker is a game of razor thin margins, and it takes a while for your skill edge to fully manifest.

In practice, this means you need to get comfortable with losing. And lots of it.

All good poker players know this already.

Think of it this way. 

Imagine you’re playing a 6-max cash game and you’re up against 5 recreational players, each one worse than the last. A dream scenario for any poker player. 

You might think you’ll be able to just print money in that scenario, but here’s the deal. Each of these players will almost always have a significant chunk of equity when playing against you. 

When you put them all together, it means you’re going to lose far more often than you’d like.

As they say, all the fish are one giant fish. You may be the best player at the table, but you’re not playing heads-up against one player. You are playing against a bunch of them, and each one of them has a theoretical chance of beating you.

Think of the action movie where the protagonist can take down half a dozen goons in a fist fight. While it may make for a cool scene, in real life the hero would have his ass handed to him. 

Skill is important, but there’s something to be said about brute strength in numbers. 

So when you lose to a fish, remember that it’s bound to happen from time to time, because there’s simply so many of them, and you’re bound to get hit sooner or later.

One of the ways to deal with this is to have a big, fat bankroll. 

As a general rule, you should have at least 30 buyins for the stakes you’re playing. 

This is enough to handle basic variance without the risk of going broke.

But if you want real peace of mind, it would be better to bump it up even more, to 40 or even 50 buyins for cash games.

This may seem excessive, but again, the point is to give you a peace of mind so you can keep playing your best no matter how badly you’re running.

Let’s say you encounter a 10 buyin downswing. If you have 30 buyins in your bankroll, that accounts for 33% of your total bankroll. But if you have 50 buyins, it accounts for only 20% of your bankroll.

You get the point. The bigger your bankroll, the less dramatic the fluctuations in your overall results.

The importance of a proper bankroll can’t be overstated. Poker can be stressful enough as it is. You don’t need to add on the stress of having to worry about going broke if your downswing continues.

Important note: following proper bankroll management rules only apply if you’re already a winning poker player. 

If not, the biggest bankroll in the world isn’t going to save you. It will just take you longer to go broke.

6 Low Stakes Poker Tips They Don't Want You to Know - Summary

To sum up, here are the simple poker strategy tips that will boost your winrate significantly in low stakes poker games.

1. Abuse the button

Playing in position is a huge advantage, so you should play way more hands on the button than any other position. If your hand is even remotely playable, chances are you can open-raise it profitably on the button.

2. Don’t slowplay

Slowplaying only works if you can rely on your opponent to build up the pot for you, which is usually not the case if you’re playing against a bunch of passive players.

3. Don’t bluff too much

Similar to slowplaying, bluffing is not the best strategy against recreational poker players. Bluffing only works if your opponents are actually capable of flooding, which is usually not the case with recreational players who love to call a lot.

4. Always have direct position on the fish

If you have a direct position on the fish, you’ll be able to take advantage of their mistakes before all the other players. You can iso-raise them to play a heads up pot in position against them postflop, which is the best money-making spot in poker, period.

5. Use a hand tracking software

If you play poker online, consider investing in a hand tracking software. 

PokerTracker 4 allows you to keep track of your stats and your winrate, and it helps you identify and plug leaks in your game. 

Also, the poker HUD shows you your opponent’s stats in real time, so you can quickly recognize and exploit weaknesses in their game.

6. Have a big bankroll

Having a big bankroll gives you a peace of mind to keep playing your best without the risk of going broke. 

You should have no less than 30 buyins for cash games, and 100 buyins for tournaments. Of course, you can bump it up even more, so you don’t ever have to worry about how you’re running.

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to make $2000+ per month in small/mid stakes games, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

6 Low Stakes Poker Tips the Pros Don't Want You to Know