6 Simple Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate

6 Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate

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

In poker, there are no quick and easy ways to succeed. It takes time and dedication to achieve truly great results.

This means continually working on improving your game, both on and off the felt.

However, making small steps of progress doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and these steps add up tremendously over the long run.

In this article, we’ll take a look at 6 quick and easy steps you can take to instantly improve your poker results.

1. Have a Recreational Poker Player on Your Right

In poker, most of the money you’ll make will come from the recreational players, aka the fish.

Poker fish make all sorts of costly fundamental mistakes, like playing too many hands, calling too much, tilting easily and so on.

And the best way to take advantage of these mistakes is to have a direct position on their left.

Playing in position (i.e. being the last player to act in a betting round) is just about the biggest advantage you can have at the felt. 

This is especially the case if you have a direct position on the recreational player, because you’ll be able to take advantage of their mistake before everyone else.

6 Simple Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate

For example, if a recreational player open-limps into the pot (as they are prone to do), you can make an isolation raise (or iso-raise for short) to isolate them and play a heads-up pot against them in position.

Playing in position as a preflop aggressor against a single opponent is just about the most profitable spot in no-limit hold’em, period.

I won’t get into too much detail as to why open-limping is a bad play. You can check out my other article on the 5 bad poker strategies you should avoid for more info on the topic.

Suffice it to say, when you see a player open-limping instead of open-raising, it means they’re a recreational player 99% of the time.

As to what size you should use for your iso-raise, it depends on the situation.

But as a general rule, your iso-raise should be 4 big blinds.


Blinds are $1/$2, make it $8 to go!

You can add an additional blind per limper, so 5 big blinds for two limpers, 6 big blinds for 3 limpers etc.

You can bump it up an additional big blind if you’re playing out of position.

Making your iso-raise bigger is a good idea if you have a strong value hand and your opponent is a huge fish who likes to call regardless of the bet size.

Example Hand #1

You are dealt AQ in the BB.

A loose and passive fish open-limps in the MP (middle position).

Another player limps behind on the BU (button).

You: ???

You should raise it to 6 BB.

In this spot, there are two limpers, so you increase your iso-raise by 1 big blind, and another big blind because you’re playing out of position.

If the open-limper is a huge fish, you can increase your iso-raise even more to 7 or even 8 big blinds. 

This way, you’re building up a big pot early in the hand, so it’s going to be easier to extract more value post flop if you happen to have a strong hand.

If you miss the flop completely, you can try to take it down with a simple light c-bet, provided your opponent plays fit-or-fold post flop.

Players who play a lot of hands preflop will miss the flop fairly often, so you can often take down the pot from them with a simple c-bet.

If your opponent is a huge calling station, on the other hand, you should refrain from bluffing them altogether, and wait for a strong value hand to stack them.

Check out Nathan's recent video on how to quickly spot a recreational player on your table.

2. Make Bigger Isolation Raises Preflop

Being more aggressive preflop is one of the easiest ways to quickly boost your winrate. It also  automatically gives you an advantage in post flop play as well.

Increasing your aggression frequency and bet sizing preflop will help you build up the pots with your strong value hands.

If you have a strong value hand, your best bet is to build up the pot as quickly as possible, which will allow you to get more money in the pot on later streets. 

This has to do with pot geometry: small adjustments in your bet sizing on earlier streets can lead to a dramatically bigger pot on later streets.

Example hand #2

6-max cash game, effective stack size: 100 BB  

You are dealt AA in the SB (small blind). A loose and passive fish open-limps from the CO (cutoff). 

You: ???

You should open-raise to 6 BB.

Suppose the recreational player calls, and you fire a half-pot c-bet on the flop, turn and river. Villain calls you down all the way.

Pot size on the flop: 13 BB

Final pot size: 104 BB

Now, let’s assume you’ve open-raiset do 4 BB instead of 6 BB, and the action sequence stays the same.

Pot size on the flop: 9 BB

Final pot size: 72 BB

Now the pot is drastically smaller. What started as only a 2 BB difference in bet sizing preflop ballooned to a 32 BB difference in final pot sizes.

This is why pot geometry is crucial to building up huge pots, especially with strong value hands.

Some players may object that betting big like this is too obvious, and they’re afraid they won’t get any action with such bet sizing.

But this is not really the case when you’re playing against recreational players. 

Recreational players tend to be inelastic, meaning the bet sizing doesn’t affect how often they continue playing their hand.

If they like their hand, they’ll continue playing it regardless of the price. If they don’t, they’ll fold it regardless of the price they’re being offered on a call.

More skilled players, on the other hand, tend to be more elastic, meaning that the difference in bet sizing will affect how often they continue playing the hand.

That’s because skilled players take the pot odds and implied odds into account, while fish don’t particularly care about these concepts.

Check out my other article on everything you need to know about the pot odds for more info on this topic.

Another reason to bet big in situations like in the example above is that you want to play a heads-up pot with the recreational player, so a bigger isolation raise will deter other players from getting involved.

For example, if you only open-raise to 4 BB, a player from the big blind may want to come along for the ride, and will have a positional advantage the rest of the hand.

The more players involved in the pot, the less often you can expect to win the hand.

That’s because every player will have a slight chunk of equity against you, even if you have a strong hand like pocket Aces.

If you’re playing a heads-up pot with pocket Aces, you can expect to win 85% of the time against another random hand.

If you’re up against three players with random hands, your hand equity drops to only about 64%.

You should also increase your isolation raise size because it deters other players to 3-bet (re-raise) you. 

If you’re holding pocket Aces, you wouldn’t mind facing a 3 bet, of course.

But if you have a weaker hand that’s vulnerable to 3-bets (like a suited Ace with a weak kicker or a weaker broadway hand), making your open-raise bigger makes it more costly to 3-bet you effectively.

This is especially important if you’re playing out of position.

As a general rule, you should make bigger bets preflop when you’re playing out of position.

This way, you’re letting your opponents know that if they want to play in position against you, it’s going to cost them more.

For more info on preflop bet sizing, check out my ultimate preflop bet sizing cheat sheet.

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3. Play Aggressively at the Beginning of Your Poker Session

If you’re playing low stakes cash games, your best bet is to play a simple tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy. 

This strategy works like a charm against recreational players, but it does have its limitations, namely the fact that it can become predictable to opponents who are paying attention to your playstyle.

This means that it can be hard to get action with your strong value hands if your opponents know you have a strong hand.

In order to avoid this problem, it pays to mix up your playstyle from time to time.

And the best way to do that is to play very aggressively at the very start of your session.

If you manage to leave the first impression of being a wild, erratic player, you’ll be much more likely to get paid off later once you actually do wake up with a monster hand.

Let’s say you sit down at the table and you’re being dealt bad cards for a while. You keep folding and folding, and once you actually do get a strong hand and start betting and raising, everybody simply folds.

In order to avoid such a scenario, it pays to be more aggressive at the beginning of the session.

I have used this strategy especially in online Zoom poker games to make an absolute killing over the years while traveling the world.

6 Simple Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate

This doesn’t mean open-raising just about any random hand that’s dealt to you, though. It just means playing a slightly wider range than you would otherwise be comfortable with.

For example, when playing in the late positions (the cutoff and the button), you can often get away with open-raising quite a wide range, especially if you have tight opponents on your left.

This is discussed in more detail in Modern Small Stakes.

The beginning of your session is also a good time to try to pull off a few bluffs to further improve your table image. 

Your bluffs are more likely to work when your opponents have little or no information about your playstyle, so they will give you the benefit of the doubt and they’ll “let you have it this time.” 

If they actually catch you bluffing, even better. As the saying goes, if you’re never caught bluffing, you’re not bluffing often enough.

Check out my other article on why you should bluff more for more info on this topic.

Bottom line: you should get comfortable with a loose and aggressive (LAG) poker style to keep your opponents guessing.

In a nutshell, a LAG poker style involves:

a) open-raising a wider range

b) being more aggressive both preflop and postflop

c) bluffing more frequently.

Again, the goal is not to get crazy aggressive just for the sake of being aggressive. The goal is to APPEAR aggressive while still making sound, rational decisions. 

If you can throw your opponents off their game, all the better.

Check out my other article for a full guide on how to play a LAG poker style for more info on the topic.

4. Learn to Light 4-Bet

Learning to throw out an occasional light 4-bet can instantly make you a more difficult opponent, and it can quickly boost your winrate. 

However, it’s worth noting that it’s an advanced poker strategy you should only use sparingly.

A light 4-bet (or a 4-bet bluff) is a re-raise against another player’s 3-bet, and it’s a very powerful play if you can use it correctly.

6 Simple Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate

A vast majority of players, especially at the lower stakes, don’t 4-bet preflop unless they happen to have a nutted range, meaning pocket Aces, pocket Kings, and maybe pocket Queens and Ace-King.

So when they see another player 4-betting, they naturally assume that player has this exact range. You can use this to your advantage and represent a strong hand with a light 4-bet.

Important note: you shouldn’t attempt this strategy against recreational players, because they tend to overcall and generally aren’t likely to fold to bluffing attempts.

You should save plays like these only for players who are actually capable of folding.

So which spots should you look for to make a light 4-bet?

You want to look for spots where your opponent’s 3-betting range is loose and weak, meaning they are likely to fold to a 4-bet.

You should look for players that like to 3-bet a lot, because they have more weak hands in their range that won’t be able to stand the pressure of a 4-bet.

As to which hands you should make a light 4-bet with, you should look for hands that have some sort of playability post flop in case your bluff gets called.

You should also look for hands that have blocker power.

A blocker is a card in your hand that reduces the number of strong hands in your opponent’s range. 

For example, if you hold an Ace in your hand, it’s less likely your opponent is holding strong combinations like pocket Aces or Ace-King.

Therefore, the best light 4-betting hands are small suited Aces (A2s to A5s).

Suited Aces have blocker power, and they have great playability postflop. They can make strong combinations like a straight and a nut flush.

They also have a decent chunk of equity against other premium pocket pairs.

For example, against a range of pocket Aces through pocket Jacks, a hand like A5s has 30% equity.

Throwing out an occasional light 4-bet will make you more difficult to play against. You will also be more likely to get action later once you wake up with a strong hand like pocket Aces or pocket Kings.

Example hand #3 

You are dealt A3 on the BU (button). You open-raise to 2.5x. A loose and aggressive player 3-bets to 10x from the BB (big blind). 

You: ???

You should 4-bet to 20 BB.

This is a good spot for a light 4-bet, because your opponent is likely to have a wide 3-betting range. You are also playing in position, and you have a decent hand that has plenty of playability post flop.

In this situation, your opponent could easily be light 3-betting, because they assume you are trying to steal their blinds. 

The villain knows that a big chunk of your range can’t stand the pressure of a 3-bet, so they’re likely 3-betting with a wide range.

You can play right back at them and apply pressure on them for an easy profit. In the future, your opponents will have to think twice before throwing out light 3-bets your way.

Again, in most cases, you want to keep your 4-betting range extremely value heavy, especially at the lower stakes. 

But once you start encountering a more difficult opposition, it becomes increasingly important to balance your ranges so you don’t become overly predictable.

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5. Use a Hand Tracking Poker Software

Poker is a game of incomplete information, and the player with the informational advantage will come out on top more often than not.

If you figure out your opponent’s playing tendencies and weaknesses, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions against them.

The problem is that it can be hard to keep track of all the information at once, especially if you’re playing online and you’re playing multiple tables at once.

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

PokerTracker 4 allows you to import your hand history from your preferred poker site, and it creates comprehensive stats for both yours and your opponent’s game.

6 Simple Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate

This way, you can keep track of your winrate and figure out the areas of your game that might need improvement.

One of the software’s features is the Leak Tracker that shows you EXACTLY where your stats fall out of norm for most winning players.

For example, if you’re not c-betting enough on the turn, if you’re 3-betting too often, if you’re calling too much on the river and so on.

This means you don’t have to guess at where you’re bleeding money. PokerTracker 4 tells you exactly what to fix.

If you’re serious about improving your game, PokerTracker 4 is a must have.

Another great feature is the heads-up display (HUD) that shows up next to your opponent’s username and displays your opponent’s stats in real time.

The HUD shows you the most relevant stats, like how many hands your opponent plays, how aggressive they are, and so on. It is also fully customizable, so you can display the stats that are most useful to you.

Check out Nathan’s article on the 15 most useful HUD stats used by pros for much more.

This only scratches the surface of all the features available in the software. PokerTracker 4 is the most widely used software by the pros, but it’s also easy to use for less experienced poker players.

PokerTracker also comes with a 14 day free trial, so there’s no reason not to give it a try. You wouldn’t want to play another session without it, guaranteed.

5. Float in Position With a Wide Range

Floating in position is an effective, yet simple poker strategy you can use to quickly improve your winrate. 

Floating in position means calling a bet with the intention of taking down the pot with a bluff on later streets.

For example, you call a c-bet on the flop, then fire a bet on the turn when your opponent checks to you.

The reason this strategy is so effective is because a lot of players aren’t nearly as aggressive as they should be post flop, especially at the lower stakes.

These days, most players know they should fire a c-bet on most flops, but they aren’t as willing to continue the aggression on the turn if they don’t have a strong hand.

6 Simple Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate

In practice, this means that a lot of players will fire a c-bet on the flop because “it’s a standard play”, and simply give up on the turn. 

When this happens, you can often take down the pot with a simple half-pot bet.

Floating in position requires you to call with a wider range than you might be comfortable with otherwise. 

It doesn’t mean you should call any flop c-bet with any random two cards, though.

This strategy is best employed when you have at least some sort of hand equity to fall back on. For example, you may consider floating when you have one or two overcards, or when you have a backdoor draw.

An overcard is a card that’s stronger than the strongest card on the flop. 

For example, if the flop is Q85, Aces and Kings are an overcard.

A backdoor draw means you need both turn AND river cards to complete your draw. 

For example, if you hold 76♦, and the flop is AJ2, you need two diamonds to complete a flush.

You should also take the board runout and your opponent’s range into account. As a general rule, floating is more +EV (positive expected value) if your opponent is likely to have missed the flop.

If your opponent is likely to have connected well with the flop, this makes floating less profitable.

Example Hand #4

You are dealt 33 on the BU (button). Villain open-raises to 3 BB from the CO (cutoff). You call.

Pot: 7.5 

Flop: A94

Villain c-bets 2.5 BB. 

You: ???

You should call.

Calling can be a viable play in this spot if the villain is likely to check on most turns. Let’s break down the action street by street.

Preflop you have a standard flat call with a small pocket pair. Nothing much to be said here.

You don’t hit a set on the flop, but it doesn’t mean you should give up the pot altogether.

The board is fairly dry, meaning the villain could have easily missed it. If they were to check the turn, you can often take down the pot, regardless of your hand strength.

When floating the flop, your hand strength (or lack thereof) isn’t your primary concern. 

What you need to take into account instead is how often you’ll be able to take down the pot on later streets.

Equity-wise, you’re not drawing completely dead. You only have two outs (two Threes) and a backdoor straight draw. Not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.

Again, all of this is not to say that you should call in similar situations 100% of the time. If you fail to make a set on the flop and only have a fourth pair, you should still fold most of the time.

This example is just to show that there are multiple lines you can take in each spot, and there’s more than one way to win the pot.

Check out Nathan's recent video for more bluffing tips.

6 Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate - Summary

Improving your poker game takes time and effort, but there are ways you can improve your results relatively quickly. 

To sum up, here are 6 ways you can quickly boost your winrate.

1. Be more aggressive at the start of the session.

A bit of well-timed aggression early on in the session can go a long way. By establishing a loose and aggressive table image right away, you will constantly keep your opponent guessing at your hand strength. 

You will also be more likely to get paid off later once you actually wake up with a monster hand. 

2. Make bigger isolation raises.

Iso-raises put you in the most profitable money making spots in no-limit hold’em. slightly increasing your iso-raise sizing will make your isolation attempts more effective. 

You will also be able to build up bigger pots post flop, thanks to the pot geometry.

3. Have a recreational player on your left.

Most of the money you’ll make in poker will come from recreational players, so you should look to have a direct position on them whenever possible. 

This way, you’ll be able to iso-raise them and play a heads-up pot against them in position. You’ll also have more opportunities to take away their money before other players.

4. Learn the light 4-bet.

Most players at the lower stakes don’t 4-bet preflop unless they have an insanely strong hand, like pocket Aces, pocket Kings, or Ace-King. 

This means that they assume that other players who are 4-betting have the exact same range. You can use this to your advantage and throw an occasional light 4-bet for an easy profit.

5. Use a hand tracking software.

If you’re playing poker online, consider investing in a hand tracking software like PokerTracker 4. You can use it to keep track of your winrate and your stats, as well as find and eliminate leaks in your game.

You can also use a heads-up display (HUD) to see your opponent’s stats in real time and identify weaknesses in their game.

6. Float in position.

Most players know by now that they should make a c-bet on most flops, but they often don’t continue their aggression on the turn. 

You can use this to your advantage by calling (floating) with a wider range when you’re playing in position, then take down the pot with a simple half-pot bet when they check the turn.

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 Simple Poker Hacks to Instantly Boost Your Winrate