What is a Poker Cheat Sheet?
A poker cheat sheet is a guide to help you learn the absolute basic fundamentals to play solid poker in order to beat micro and low stake games. Like any endeavour, it takes time, experience and regular evaluation to become a master. The idea behind a cheat sheet is that you can refer to it easily to help you make better decisions than you would otherwise. While you have cheat sheets with poker and for example Blackjack, this is not real ‘cheating’. Cheating the casino is not allowed and can get you into trouble.
If you are new to poker, you will need to understand the proper hand rankings. The list below should help you understand the respective hand rankings.
Calculating Outs as Odds
To make better decisions, you will want to know the chances of improving your hand and reconciling that with the amount your opponent is betting. The table below should help you see, at a glance, the approximate percentage of you making your hand for the most common scenarios you will find yourself in. After a while, calculating your outs and converting them to odds will become intuitive. In the meantime, feel free to refer to this table.
|Draw Type||Number of Outs||Turn & River (2 Cards)||River (One Card)|
|Flush & 2 Overcards||15||54%||33%|
|Flush & 1 Overcard||14||51%||30%|
|Open End Straight & 1 Overcard||11||42%||24%|
|Open End Straight||8||32%||17%|
|Set to Full House or Quads||7||28%||15%|
|Backdoor Flush or Straight||1||4%||2%|
Hand Selection – Open Raising
Choosing which hands to play is very important. It’s the first key decision of any poker hand. If you are starting out in poker. The most important thing is to play a selective hand range based on the position you are in. As you lack the post flop skills to profitably make marginal pre flop calls, you will need to be careful about the hands you play. The table below is a guide to hands you can open raise with, if you are first to enter the pot i.e. nobody has raised in front of you. Please note that the table assumes you are opening the hand ranges in the earlier positions too e.g. You open KJ suited in early position therefore you are opening it in mid position too.
|Early Position||Middle Position||Late Position||Small Blind|
|All pocket pairs from 5s to Aces||KJ/KQ/KT/QJ||Any Ace||NA|
|AT-AK Suited||Suited Aces||All Suited Kings||NA|
|KQ Suited||Pocket 2s to 4s||All Connectors||NA|
|KJ Suited||Suited Connectors above a 6 e.g. 7h 8h||All Gapped Connectors e.g. Q9||NA|
|QJ Suited/KT Suited/QT Suited/JT Suited||Any suited cards with at worst 3 gap between e.g. Jd8d||NA|
Please note I have not assigned a hand range to open raise from the small blind with. I firmly believe this is the worst spot to open raise in Texas Holdem from and don’t think it would be wise to advise a wide open raise range from here. Instead, play very careful from there. Look to minimize how much you lose and let the strong hands do their “talking” so to speak.
Hand Selection – Calling Raises
As you won’t have the pre-flop aggression in the hand when calling a raise, it is important you are calling raises with hands that are at least as equal in value to the likely range your opponent is raising with and preferably with position on them. There is no cheat to knowing what hands you should call player A’s raise with. Instead, think about the type of player raising and act accordingly. In other words, if it is a loose player opening, you can widen the hands you call with as he is opening wider than a tight player. If it is a tight player opening, you should be looking to play less hands or hands that can break him and his premium hands e.g. low pairs.
As a very basic guide consider calling raises with the hands below.
- Any Pocket Pair
- A Q off suit
- A J suited
- A Q suited
- A T suited
- K Q suited
Hand Selection – Re Raising AKA 3 Bet
Starting out, I recommend 3 betting with AK suited, Pocket Queens, Kings and Aces. As you develop and gain experience you will certainly be re raising with other hands but this cheat sheet is purely for the new player playing micro/low stakes poker.
Post Flop Poker
You will quickly learn that playing the flop, turn and river is complex. As you are playing a selective hand range to begin with, you will not be facing as many difficult situations as a more experience player. Check out some tips to follow below.
- Miss the flop, get out of the way
- Be wary of straight and flushes if betting gets large
- Bet 50% or more of the pot when you bet
- Don’t attempt crazy bluff bets when you are multi way
- Don’t slowplay your hands, people will call you down at micro stakes so less need for deception
- Bet your top pair or better hands
- Don’t get too attached to Ace King if you miss!
This cheat sheet is aimed at the new player coming to poker in 2020 who has no experience but wants to learn quickly. Understanding hand rankings, what hands to play and the basic odds are the most simple and fundamental skills to be a competent player, capable of winning at micro stakes. There is so much more strategy and complexity to Texas Holdem that can take years to master but we hope this cheat sheet will help you at the start of your poker journey.
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