Back when I first started playing cash game poker things were a lot different. The micro-stakes were basically like playing play money games and all you had to do was just show up and just not be a complete donkey and you would win.
Today, things have changed. Most micro-stakes players have done at least a little research, have found some charts, or some kind of basic strategy to follow. Pure high VPIP fish are few and far between.
However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still win easily at the micros. You just need stick to a few guidelines in order to succeed. Here are my top 8 tips for crushing the micro-stakes so that you can move up as soon as possible.
#1 Avoid complicated spots
The micros is not place to be too fancy in your play. You aren’t there to impress anyone.
Besides, trying to level a bunch of players playing on level 0 or level 1 is a pretty absurd proposition. Instead, you should mostly play on level 2, which basically means that you play based on what you think your opponents have. Overwhelm your opponents with adherence to the fundamentals, not by trying to outplay them in marginal spots.
One rule of thumb is that, if you are not sure whether your decision is decisively +EV, you should probably be keeping the pot small.
#2 Stick to the fundamentals (link to my article on the fundamentals)
There are three core fundamentals in poker: Position, initiative, and pressure. Players at the micros tend to call and play out of position way too much. Capitalize on this by playing more hands in late position.
Poker, at it’s core, is a battle of the blinds. If you focus most of your attention on the stealing spots, the rest tends to take care of itself. Basically, raise as many hands as you can within reason, while calling as little as possible oop in the blinds. Most micro-stakes regs play horribly in the blinds, so you can capitalize on this by playing more hands in position than they do. In fact, I hardly ever flat in the blinds at the micros.
#3 Don’t battle the regs
Only a few years ago, even mentioning this would have been silly. REG battles at the micros? Are you kidding me. Now, it’s not a joking manner.There are now more regs than ever at the micro-stakes, using complicated HUDs and trying to exploit the other regs.I had a bit of culture shock recently when I was testing out my updated poker charts at 2NL. I saw almost no one limping, and was getting played back at when stealing much more often than seemed plausible.
Even so, there’s no need to start making complicated light 4-bets or flatting marginal hands in 3-bet pots.
#4 Bet the strength of your hand
At the micros, it’s perfectly fine to forget about balance and just bet big with big hands and bet small with marginal ones.
There will not be enough people to exploit you enough to worry about it.
#5 Don’t get too crazy with complicated HUDs, this is a big trap I see a lot of players fall into. They get their head so far up their HUD that they forget to learn to play poker.. My advice is to either play by observation only, or use a very basic HUD (link to my simple hud video)
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need a HUD that gives you deep reads on your opponents. First of all, you will not know how to use the information properly yet.
#6 Set a bankroll management plan and stick to it
This might be the most important tip of all, since your bankroll is the lifeblood of your poker career. Just pick a plan and stick with it. For building your initial bankroll,
I recommend having 30 buy-ins before you move up to the next stake. If you drop below 20 buy-ins, either reload some more money or drop down a stake.
#7 Don’t slow play at the micros
Okay, so there are times where it’s okay to slow play. For example, like when you are trapping a maniac.
However, at the micro stakes, you should be erring on the side of just aggressively betting your value hands. Build that pot and maximize your value.
The biggest sin you can commit in micro-stakes (or any stake for that matter) is to consistently get the minimum value on your biggest hands. So, unless you have a really good reason and can back it up with sound logic, bet or raise relentlessly with your nut hands. Trust me, your win-rate will thank you.
#8 Play more volume, study less
Now this might sound odd or counterinuitive to some, i’m not saying that you shouldn’t be doing a lot of study. However, I feel some people study way too much when first starting out. They end up learning to speak poker and not really how to play it.
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