Ultimate Micro Stakes Cheat Sheet (Free Download)

Ultimate Micro Stakes Poker Cheat Sheet

This article was written by blackrain79 contributor Fran Ferlan.

Poker has become incredibly competitive over the years, even at the very lowest stakes.

The games have gotten tougher, the rake has increased, and the rakeback programs aren’t as generous as they once were.

However, online poker is still alive and well, and the game can still be beat if you follow the right strategy.

In this article, you’ll find out everything you need to know about beating the microstakes these days.

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Also, I am giving away my free microstakes poker "cheat sheet" below. You will find this as a free download below.

Alright, there’s a lot to cover so let’s get right into it!

1. Use Tight and Aggressive (TAG) Strategy to Beat the Microstakes

If you want to start winning quickly at the microstakes, the best strategy to use is the proven tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy.

TAG strategy works well in most microstakes games because it exploits the weaknesses of the majority of the player pool you’ll be playing against.

TAG strategy includes:

A) Only playing strong starting hands

B) Playing most hands in position

C) Playing your hands aggressively, both preflop and post flop

There are a few reasons why TAG strategy works like a charm in most microstakes games. In other words, it produces the highest winrates for you.

First of all, most players at these stakes will have a lot of glaring weaknesses in their game, which you can exploit by following the TAG strategy.

The microstakes games are full of recreational poker players (aka the fish).

These players primarily play for fun, and are likely to make a lot of amateur poker mistakes like playing too many hands, playing too passively, calling down too much and so on.

In poker, the best strategy to employ is the one that’s the opposite of your opponent’s playing tendencies.

So if your opponents are playing too many hands and playing too passively, your best bet is to tighten up and play aggressively.

For more on this, check out my recent video on how to realistically start winning quickly at poker as a beginner (including what hands to play)

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2. Only Play Strong Starting Hands to Get an Edge Over Your Opponents

One of the most common amateur poker mistakes is playing too many hands.

As a general rule, the number of hands a player chooses to play preflop is inversely proportional to their skill level.

The more hands a player plays, the weaker the player in general.

That’s because in no-limit hold’em, most hands miss most flops.

And since you have to pay money to see every flop, the more flops you see, the quicker you will burn through your money.

And the times you do connect with the flop won’t make up for all the misses.

That’s because not all hands in no-limit hold’em are created equal.

Some starting hands simply have a better chance of connecting with the flop than others.

So you should only play hands that have a reasonable chance of connecting with the flop in some meaningful way.

Here’s a rough overview of starting hands you should play in no-limit hold’em:

A) Pocket pairs (AA through 22)

B) Broadway hands (high cards that can make the strongest possible straight, like AJ or KQ)

C) Suited Aces (AKs through A2s)

D) Suited connectors (hands like JTs, 98s, 76s etc.)

For example:

Ultimate Micro Stakes Poker Cheat Sheet

These hands make up the top 20% of starting hands in no-limit hold’em. The rest is trash and should be thrown away.

By the way, if you play in 9 player poker games, I suggest playing the top 15% of your hands. See below:

If you only play strong starting hands, you’re automatically giving yourself a mathematical advantage over your opponents, who will play just about any random junky hands, such as:

8♥️4♠️, K♦️3♣️ or Q♠️7♥️

By contrast, if you stick to the hands on the charts above, this means you will make stronger hands than your opponents, and you will connect with the flop more often.

Your hands will also be more likely to dominate your opponent’s, instead of the other way around.

A dominated hand is the one that’s unlikely to win against a stronger hand due to a weaker kicker.


You have A♥️K♥️, they have K♠️9♦️ and the flop comes: K♣️5♦️2♥️

You have 82% odds to win this pot!

A kicker is the card in your hand that doesn’t help you make a certain hand combination, but can determine the winner if both players have the same combination.

For example, if both players have a pair of Aces, the player with the stronger kicker wins the pot.

And since the most common hand combination you’re going to make in no-limit hold’em is one pair, you want to avoid playing mediocre hands with weak kickers that will often give you only the second best hand.

That is why you want to avoid these 4 poker hands like the plague.

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3. Play More Hands in Position to Get an Informational Advantage

Now, the above recommendation of playing only the top 20% of the hands is only a rough guideline, so take it with a grain of salt.

The number of hands you can play profitably is going to depend on a lot of different factors, namely your table position.

If you are playing in early table positions, you should actually play even less than 20% of hands.

But when you get to the late table positions (namely the cutoff and the button), you can get away with playing a lot more hands.

The closer you are to the dealer button, the more likely you are to play in position post flop.

Playing in position means being the last player to act in a betting round, which is a huge advantage.

Micro Stakes Poker Cheat Sheet

Here’s why you should play most hands in position:

A) to get more information

If you’re the last player to act, you get to see what your opponents do first, while they have no idea what you’re about to do.

B) To control the pot size

By playing in position, you get a final say at the price of the pot.

If you have a strong value hand, you can bet or raise to get the pot growing. If you have a mediocre or a drawing hand, you can just call or check behind to keep the pot size smaller and more manageable.

C) To bluff more effectively

If your opponent is playing out of position, they will have a harder time dealing with your aggression and calling your bets.

This means you can often push them out of the pot with a well-timed bluff if your opponent shows any signs of weakness.

D) To realize your equity more often

Your hand equity refers to the percentage of time you expect to win the pot at showdown.

If you’re playing in position, you’ll be able to get to showdown more often.

You can do this either by calling down your opponent, or simply by checking behind when they check to you.

The flip side is that you can also deny your opponent their equity by trying to push them out of pots with bets.

I discuss all of this in much more detail in my first book, Crushing the Microstakes.

4. Play Aggressively to Maximize Your Winnings

The last key component of TAG strategy is playing your hands aggressively, both preflop and post flop.

Playing aggressively means betting and raising a lot instead of checking and calling.

If you only take one thing away from this article, let it be this: winning poker is aggressive poker.

There are a few reasons for this.

First of all, if you want to win big in poker, you need to win big pots.

And the best way to do that is to build up the pot with your strong value hands.

In other words, you need to value bet your strong hands relentlessly.

To value bet means to bet when you can get called by a lot of weaker hands in your opponent’s range.

For example: 

Let’s say you are dealt AK 

And the flop is: K87 

In this spot, you can bet for value because you can get called by a number of weaker hands, like weaker Kx hands, drawing hands like T9 or 65, pocket Jacks, pocket Tens and so on.

If you’re playing against a particularly fishy player, their calling range is likely to be even wider, and they’ll be willing to give you action by a lot of hands you’re completely crushing.

A lot of players make the mistake of slowplaying their strong hands, which can often end up backfiring.

To slowplay means to play your hand passively (check or call) in order to conceal your hand strength.

While slowplaying can be a viable strategy at times, it’s usually better to play your hands straightforwardly, especially against recreational poker players.

When you’re slowplaying, you’re essentially relying on your opponent to build up the pot for you.

This can be a good idea if your opponent is overly aggressive and is likely to put more money in the pot if you check or call.

But in most microstakes games, players tend to play too passively, so you can’t really rely on them to build up the pot.

A lot of players at these stakes also tend to overcall, meaning it’s better to just bet your strong hands yourself and let them call you with all their nonsense.

If you notice your value hands aren’t getting enough action and your opponents seem to fold too much, then it’s time to switch gears and throw out a few bluffs here and there.

Bluffing is the opposite of value betting because you’re trying to get your opponent to fold a stronger hand.

With a few well-timed bluffs, you can rake in an occasional pot even without a particularly strong hand.

This is important because strong value hands don’t come around often in no-limit hold’em, so you can’t rely on them alone to be a profitable long term winner.

When you’re playing the microstakes, you will encounter a lot of weak regulars who won’t make as many fundamental mistakes as recreational players, but they will still have some leaks in their game.

One of these leaks is their tendency to play too meekly and generally having trouble dealing with constant aggression.

You can apply a lot of pressure on these players by betting and raising frequently, and pushing them off their weak to mediocre hands.

Another benefit of this strategy is that you’ll be more likely to get paid off once you actually do wake up with a monster hand.

This is especially important if you want to get paid off from the tighter players.

A word of caution: you should be careful when trying to bluff recreational poker players.

As mentioned, these players are likely to overcall in a lot of situations.

This doesn’t mean you can never ever bluff them successfully, but you should be more selective when picking the spots to do so.

Against them, it’s usually better to keep things simple and (thin) value bet your strong hands instead.

5. Recognize the Player Type You’re Up Against

No two poker players are alike, but some players will have similar playing tendencies.

By recognizing these tendencies and grouping players into certain player types, you’ll be able to adjust your game accordingly and make better in-game decisions.

The first and most obvious player categorization is about figuring out whether a player is a recreational or a regular poker player.

This alone will tell 90% of what you need to know about a certain player.

Identifying recreational players is very simple because they will often make glaring amateur poker mistakes no decent player will ever make.

This includes stuff like:

A) Open-limping

B) Buying in for less than the maximum table amount

C) Playing an insane number of hands

The list goes on.

There’s different types of recreational players, but most of them will make similar, predictable mistakes.

They might differ by how aggressive they are, which means you’ll need to adjust your strategy accordingly.

Micro stakes poker cheat sheet

Most recs are going to be too loose and too passive, meaning they will call a lot, and only raise if they have a very strong hand.

Other recs will be very aggressive and bet or raise at seemingly every opportunity.

While they can be quite frustrating to play against, their aggression usually won’t be well thought-out.

If you’re having trouble dealing with constant aggression from maniacs, check out my other article on how to beat crazy poker players.

Regular poker players won’t have as many glaring leaks in their game, which means you won’t make as much money off of them as you would against recreational players.

However, every player at the microstakes will still have some leaks (weaknesses) in their game.

You will just have to dig a bit deeper to find them.

You can use a free poker HUD to quickly find out their leaks.

or you can do it the old fashioned way and pay attention to their betting patterns, timing tells, showdown hands and so on.

6. Bluff More Against Weak Regulars

We’ve already established that the majority of your winnings will come from recreational poker players who make a lot of costly mistakes.

However, as you start climbing up the stakes, there will be fewer recreational players around.

The other regulars will also be acutely aware of the presence of recreational players at the table, and they’ll try to take their stack before everyone else.

So to truly get ahead in today’s games, it’s not enough to just know how to beat recreational players.

You also need to know how to battle it out against other regulars who won’t make as many blunders as recreational players.

While you won’t make as much money against other regs, it’s still important to know how to play against them effecrively.

Even though other regs won’t make as many glaring mistakes, they will still have some leaks in their game you can exploit if you know where to look for.

One of the most common leaks a lot of regs might have at the microstakes is being too risk-averse.

This means their game may become overly predictable in some aspects.

For example, a lot of regs may not be comfortable with making huge multi street bluffs like double barreling or triple barreling.

So if they have a hand like A♥️Q♠️ they will often fire the flop of T♦️9♦️5♣️ but give up when the turn comes with the 3♥️

In other words, their game may become too straightforward.

You can take advantage of this by overfolding every time they make a big raise, especially on big money streets (i.e. turn and river).

You can also bluff more frequently against them, because they won’t be as likely to call you down with their bluff catchers.

Micro Stakes Poker Cheat Sheet

We’ve already established that bluffing recreational players can often end up backfiring.

But when playing against other regulars, knowing when and how to bluff effectively is a must.

That’s because regs usually won’t make the mistake of overcalling with their marginal hands, meaning they are actually capable of making a tight fold.

Another reason you can bluff profitably against them is the aforementioned risk aversion.

When faced with a big decision, a lot of regs will simply err on the side of caution, meaning they would make a tight fold rather than a huge hero call.

One added benefit of bluffing more against other regs is that it will make it more likely you get called once you actually do wake up with a monster hand.

If you only bet big with your strong value hands, you will become fairly predictable to anyone who’s paying attention to your betting patterns.

By mixing up your play and throwing out a few bluffs here and there, your opponents will constantly have to guess at your hand strength.

So how do you know if you’re bluffing enough?

There’s no single right answer to this question, but here’s a rule of thumb you can follow.

If you’re never caught bluffing, it means you’re not bluffing often enough.

Bluffing is a high risk, high reward play, and bluffing in the wrong spots can be absolutely devastating to your bottom line.

But you can’t afford to play it too safe, either.

Waiting around for the nuts can only get you so far in this game.

You also need to rake in a few pots even without a particularly strong hand.

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7. Use Proper Bankroll Management to Avoid Going Broke

Microstakes games are relatively easy to beat in theory, but it’s a different story in practice.

Poker has become incredibly competitive over the years, even at the lower stakes.

While you will still run into a number of recreational players who don’t really know what they’re doing, you’ll also encounter more competent players who actually make an effort into improving their game.

This means you can’t expect to just sit there and print money at will.

Even if you follow the correct strategy to a tee, you can still experience prolonged losing periods.

This is why it’s crucial to have a proper bankroll for the stakes you’re playing.

Your poker bankroll is a set amount of money you specifically set aside to play poker with.

This means you don’t buy groceries with your bankroll money, and you don’t fund your bankroll out of your rent money.

For the microstakes games, it’s advised to have at least 30 full buyins for the stakes you’re playing.

So if you’re playing NL10, for example, you should have no less than $300 in your bankroll.

More is always better, of course, but 30 buyins is enough to handle basic variance.

The point of having a bankroll is to avoid the risk of going broke.

Even if you’re a winning poker player, you can still go broke if you don’t have a sufficient number of buyins for the stakes you’re playing.

In poker, you can’t really control how you’re running session to session.

So even if you play perfectly, you can still experience prolonged losing periods.

However, if you have a proper bankroll, you can ride out the negative variance without risking going broke and having to reload.

Having a decent bankroll will also give you a peace of mind to keep playing your best, despite how you’re running session to session.

If you’re properly bankrolled for the stakes you’re playing, “bad luck” won’t bother you as much.

Also, a big bankroll will allow you to comfortably take shots at higher limits if the games happen to be particularly soft.

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that a bankroll can only help you if you’re a winning poker player to begin with.

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

Check out my full bankroll management guide for more tips on how to build up a big bankroll fast.

8. Don’t Tilt Away Your Winnings

This last tip has nothing to do with the strategy aspect of the game, but it’s worth highlighting nonetheless.

The previous tips are guaranteed to put you on the right path to beating the microstakes games, but it doesn’t mean you can expect to win every time you sit down to play.

Even if you play perfectly, you’re still going to experience prolonged losing periods.

This has to do with variance.

Simply put, poker variance measures the difference between how much you expect to win over a certain sample size and how much you actually win.

The bigger the difference between the two, the bigger the variance.

Variance can have a significant impact on your short term results (either positive or negative).

When players talk about variance, they usually talk about negative variance (i.e. losing much more than expected due to bad beats, suckouts, and so on).

But it’s worth mentioning that variance can cut both ways.

Sometimes you can run better than expected as well, so it’s important not to pay too much attention to your short-term results.

Micro Stakes Poker Cheat Sheet

Dealing with poker variance is arguably the hardest aspect of poker.

And that is why I choose to play online poker from my beach house most of the time. The outdoor peaceful environment keeps me calm and relaxed even when the cards go bad.

It’s one thing to know the latest advanced poker strategy, but it’s a different thing entirely to stick to it when you seemingly get punished for it over and over again.

Poker variance can be brutal, and anyone who’s played poker for a while already knows how punishing it can be at times.

But the harsh truth is that there’s really no way around it.

There’s no way to stop being unlucky in poker short of giving up playing altogether.

When you play poker, the bad beats and suckouts never really end.

So the best you can do is try to make peace with it, and try to keep playing to the best of your abilities.

When playing poker, losing some money from time to time is inevitable.

But losing more than it’s absolutely necessary due to tilt or frustration can, and should be avoided.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of strategy guides out there on how to deal with variance or how to prevent bad beats.

This is something you have to figure out yourself.

A good place to start is to realize how big of an impact tilt has on your overall results.

This may be hard to measure accurately, but try thinking about it nonetheless.

The fact is, tilt and other mental game problems are the number 1 thing holding many players from reaching their true potential.

You may think getting tilted from time to time is a natural part of the game, and punting off a stack here and there is just a part of the experience.

But that is most definitely not the case.

Just like you wouldn’t tolerate any leaks in your technical game if you knew better, the same applies to your mental game as well.

For more on this, see my recent video on the 5 reasons why you're losing at poker (and how to fix it)

The Ultimate Micro Stakes Poker Cheat Sheet  - Summary

You don’t need to study advanced poker strategy all day to beat the microstakes (although it won't hurt).

A good free microstakes poker cheat sheet is really all you need to confidently start winning.

Winning at these stakes might not be as easy as it used to be, but you can still win fairly consistently with the right strategy.

To sum up, here’s everything you need to know about beating the microstakes online.

1. Play a tight and aggressive (TAG) strategy

TAG strategy works well in most low stakes games because it exploits the weaknesses of the majority of the player pool you’re likely to play against.

Playing tight ranges will allow you to avoid a lot of marginal post flop spots, and will make it easier to beat a relatively high rake, as well.

2. Only play strong starting hands

To win more consistently, only play strong starting hands that have a reasonable chance of connecting with the flop.

This includes pocket pairs, broadway hands, suited Aces, and suited connectors.

The rest is trash and should be thrown away.

3. Play more hands in position to get an edge

Playing in position gives you a huge edge because you get an informational advantage, you can value bet or bluff more effectively, and you’ll be able to realize your equity more often.

To play more hands in position, simply open-raise more hands in late table positions (the cutoff and the button), and be more selective with hands you play in earlier table positions and in the blinds.

4. Play aggressively to maximize your winnings

By playing aggressively, you’ll be able to maximize your winnings with your strong value hands.

Also, you’ll be able to win “more than your fair share” by bluffing your opponents out of the pot when you don’t have a particularly strong hand.

Playing aggressively means open-raising or 3-betting most of the hands you decide to play preflop, then continuing the aggression post flop by making continuation bets, double barrels and triple barrels.

5. Recognize the player type you are up against

Beating the microstakes is all about identifying specific weaknesses in your opponent’s game.

Most of the recreational player at these stakes will have glaring weaknesses in their game, and this is why they will be your primary source of profit.

Regular players won’t have as many weaknesses in their game, but they will still have some leaks you can take advantage of if you know where to look for.

6. Bluff more against weak regulars

Value betting your strong hands can only get you so far at the microstakes. You also need to be able to rake in a few pots even without a particularly strong hand.

A number of regular players at the microstakes will play too timidly, meaning you can often push them out of a pot with a well-timed bluff.

Throwing out an occasional bluff will also help you get paid off once you actually do wake up with a monster hand.

7. Have a proper bankroll to avoid going broke

Sometimes you’re going to experience losing periods despite playing perfectly. This is why it’s important to have a healthy bankroll to avoid the risk of going broke.

Having a proper bankroll will help you ride out the negative variance and continue playing your best despite how you’re running session to session.

8. Don’t tilt away your winnings

Even if you follow all these tips to a tee, you’re still going to encounter prolonged losing periods.

At times like these, it’s important not to deviate from the proven winning strategy, and making sure you don’t lose anymore than it’s absolutely necessary.


This article was written by Fran Ferlan
Poker player, writer and coach
Specializing in live and online cash games

For coaching enquiries, contact Fran at email@franferlan.com
Or apply directly for poker coaching with Fran, right here

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I used to create the highest winnings of all-time grab a copy of my free micro stakes poker cheat sheet.

Micro Stakes Poker Cheat Sheet