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Tight-Aggressive Style: Making Money in Microstakes Online Cash Games


Sky Matsuhashi

on February 13, 2023

Bright idea: a tight-aggressive style (TAG) makes money in the microstakes!

I created a 4-part series of videos called the KISS Cash Game Ranges Series (you can find them below).

My KISS ranges were first introduced in my book Pre-flop Online Poker and they are designed to turn you into a tight-aggressive player. This gives you the best chance to make money at the micro stakes. So, these ranges are perfect for players who are having a tough time in the micro stakes. Anywhere from $2 buy-in games (2nl) up through $25 buy-in games (25nl).


You might be thinking, “Are these ranges what I need?” Your answers to these two questions will let you know.

Listen to this episode as you follow along below:


Question #1: Are You a Losing Player?

Take a look at your 2022 poker results. Maybe you only turned a profit in 2 or 3 of the 12 months, then these ranges are probably right up your alley.

Or, if you look at your win rate for the past 10,000 hands and you’re negative, like -5bb/100 hands or worse, then these ranges are going to help you make profitable preflop decisions, and good preflop decisions set you up for post-flop and overall poker success.


But What If I’m Already Profitable?

If you consistently turn in profits in the micro stakes, then you probably don’t need the KISS ranges.

BTW: they’re called the KISS ranges because I’m “keeping it simple, stupid” and the ranges are simplified with only 5 positions: EP, CO, BTN, SB and BB. They can be used in 6max and FR games, and they keep you tight and aggressive. Simplifying poker is the first step to turning a profit.

So, if you’re profitable right now, you probably don’t need to watch the first two videos, but videos 3 and 4 (below) will be helpful for you.


Question #2: What Type of Player Are You?

Let’s look at some very simple statistics: VPIP, PFR and 3bet.

Maybe you’re a very loose and passive fish, the kind of player I like to target with stats at 35/15 with a 2% 3bet. That huge gap of 20% between VPIP and PFR is made up of all your limping and calling hands. And it’s greater than your PFR, which makes you more passive than aggressive. Which is bad because:

“Aggression wins in poker.”

Your passivity and playing too many hands are causing your losses.

Or, maybe you’re mega tight player, like a 9/8 or a 9/2 player with a 1% 3bet. You’re way too tight and rarely bluff. It’s easy for your opponents to avoid your big hands because as soon as you come out firing, they know you’ve got the goods.

Or, maybe you’re a LAG who can’t turn a profit, like a 25/21 with a 9% 3bet. Just those stats might look good, but if you can’t make the extra hands and aggression profitable, you’ve got fundamental issues you need to overcome first.


Become a Tight-Aggressive Player (TAG)

The KISS Cash Game Ranges will turn you into a tight-aggressive player. If we look at my January stats over 5,900 hands, I was a 17/15 player with a 6% 3bet. My win rate was +1.3bb/100 hands. Not the best month ever, but anything positive is good in my book:


But in December, I was a little tighter at 15/13 with 4% 3bet with a +20bb/100 hands win rate:


I’m not saying that TAG play is the only way to earn money in the microstakes, but it’s the best way for losing players to become profitable. And here’s why: you have a mathematical preflop advantage as a TAG that your fishy and overly loose-aggressive players have a hard time overcoming in the long run.

Just imagine, you’re only playing maybe 17% of hands preflop. They play maybe 30% of hands. Flopzilla tells us that you have 54.5% preflop equity vs their 45.5% equity, that’s a 9% equity advantage:


If we look at a specific spot, your BTN 31% open range vs a wide BB caller at 50%, you still have a huge mathematical advantage:


Now, your post-flop play could still be an issue and that might cause you to lose even with a tight-aggressive style. But, like I said before, “good preflop decisions set you up for post-flop and overall poker success” so you’re more likely to be profitable as a TAG player.


4-Part KISS Ranges Video Series

Part 1: How to Use the KISS Preflop Ranges

I explain how to use the ranges through 15 example hands. Each hand covers different positions and preflop actions. This is a critical video for any first-time range user.


Part 2: KISS Preflop Ranges Demonstration

I give a 1-table, 30-minute demonstration while playing with the KISS ranges. You’ll see me following the ranges and occasionally, NOT following them. When I stray outside the ranges, I explain my reasoning so you can learn what’s going through my noggin.


Part 3: How Profitable Are The Ranges For You?

This is a great one for anyone using ranges. I show you how to save your ranges in PokerTracker 4 and how to see the profitability of each range. For example, I’ll show you how to filter for raising in the CO with your range. Plus, I show you how to see your results for hands outside of the ranges.


Part 4: Playing Looser & More Aggressively

I show you how to smartly add hands to your ranges to turn yourself into a looser and more aggressive player. But, you’re not just adding hands willy-nilly. You’re adding just a few hands in the best positions and only with the aggressive plays of 2betting and 3betting. This is the key to turn yourself into a LAG player.



Sky Matsuhashi

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