Friday, March 09, 2007

Micro-limit Strategy

I've been thinking about tackling this for a while and I think it would be better to give general advice as to what has worked for me ,rather than a list of starting hands from each position.I don't use any kind of starting hand guide as each game and hand needs to be judged on it's own merits depending on a host of factors.

Poker is a game of edges and any edge that can be gained over an opponent is vital ,therefore I would start by making sure you have all the best software tools at your disposal during play.I use Pokertracker with Gametime +,Poker Indicator and the lobby.

The lobby is very important as the information given allows you to select the game which best suits your style of play.My personal preference is for high average pots and a high % of flop seen as these allow me to play a trapping game and the high flop seen % means there's usually not large preflop raises to deal with.

You can also use the lobby to check for multi-tablers as they usually stick to fairly rigid starting requirements and bluff a lot less.At 6 max this can be taken to the extreme by blind stealing when they are in big hands at their other tables.

Empathy is a useful tool for poker too.If a player loses a big pot and rebuys then look for signs of tilt and frustration and be ready to take advantage.Players giving free info by letting the table know that they are so "good" they folded QQ on a King high flop can be useful too ( and table captains in general) as they usually play by the book and don't want to look stupid making the wrong call.

If I have a premium hand then I will raise and not mess about either with 3-4bb.If it's a .10-.20c nl table then I will generally raise to $1.20 and that bet big or go home philosophy has served me well both pre and post flop at micro-stakes.These limits can be utterly soul destroying and I'd rather take a small pot against 1-2 players with my top ten hands than make a min raise and face a lottery against 7 or 8 players.

The value is in noting the players who make min-raises both pre and postflop and taking advantage of this.Quite often there will be 6-7 players to each flop and whilst I won't play complete rubbish, if I know I can get in cheaply then I will look to play hands like 78sooted and Ace sooted.These are easy to play because unless I hit the flop hard I will fold and if I do hit a nice draw then hopefully it will be against a serial min raiser who will give me great pot odds to catch my hand on the turn or river.

Actually,I don't even need a "nice" draw against a fishy min raiser.If I call his min raise with A4soooted and the flop comes a 4 8 J rainbow I may even hang about in the hand if I feel I will break him ( or other villains in the hand) should I hit a cheap 4 or Ace.It's easy to forget the average winning hand in holdem is 2 pair when your holding AA/KK preflop and at micro levels many players don't look beyond their own hand.That is another good reason to avoid bluffing very often as most of the time the other players are not aware of what you are trying to represent and will call you down.

Sets are golden at Micro-limits so forget all the poker book advice to lay down low pairs from early position and call most raises and reraises with any pair from any position as long as the villain has a big enough stack to make hitting 3 of a kind worth it.

If I'm at a full ring micro-stakes game I like to limp a lot and I'm aware this again goes against most of the by the book advice.Why raise with 1010 when you'll get six callers and have no better idea where you are in the hand? I may raise at a loose wild 6 max table with 1010 but at a full ring table inhabited by passive calling stations I believe in lethal limping especially from position.

My average Vpip % ( voluntary put in pot %) over 22k hands at Micro stakes is 32% and my preflop raise is 6.83%.( 8% for 6 max only).Loose passive play is usually the sign of a fish but can be very effective when combined with a taking a very aggressive post flop stance when I make a hand.In comparision to an average micro nl table my 32% vpip figure will probably not be that loose and this means that you'll still be playing better hands than the table most of the time.

My default mode when new to any table though is usually uber-tight and I fight the urge to get involved too much before I know the table too well.

Reading back over this post it's fairly basic stuff and nothing earth shattering.I think my overall point is that the game, especially at $25 nl and below, in no way resembles the type of game most noted poker authors are thinking about when they write their books.I think it was just by luck that the first poker book I read was "Killer Poker" by John Vorhaus and it just so happens that his "bet big or go home" philosophy works so well at micro-stakes.

It's very hard to get an actual thought process written up in a blog post as so many factors are relevant in each hand.The other tough part is that poker can never be solved as there isn't one "right way" to play.I folded AJ to a $3 raise last night at a $50 nl table.The raiser had 1010 and bet it all the way on a Jack high board only for the big stack to reraise on the river and take it down with QJ.Don't go broke with top pair,top kicker but pay attention and know your players because at Micro-stakes the rules go out the window.( On the previous hand he won with trips fours v QQ on a low ragged board )

Ok, I hope some of the above makes sense.Feel free to rip it apart...


At Friday, 09 March, 2007, Blogger Fuel55 said...

Sets are everything:

At Saturday, 10 March, 2007, Blogger littleacornman said...

Especially if it's a set of fives eh :-)

At Tuesday, 13 March, 2007, Blogger Cell 1919 said...

Good stuff - thanks :)

I've always reckoned that starting hands should be flexible at the level I play at (total micro donk ;)) because there's no point in playing textbook poker when no-one else understands the rules. Knowing how far to take it post flop is every bit as much of a skill in pots the books tell you you shouldn't even be taking a second glance at.

At Tuesday, 13 March, 2007, Blogger Juice said...

Well i reckon that micro limits require adjustments from players. Poker books tell you not to overvalue top pair top kicker but at microlimits you certainly can get paid off alot of the time. The same goes for sets.

Incidentally 32% isnt that high for micro limits but then mine is 21% , rotties is 31.4%, miasdads is 42.6%, edges is 21.8% butroz is 16% so many ways to scin a fish.

I think its fine to see the flops so long as you can read boards and get away from hands. Sadly alot of players cant which is where the profit comes.

At Tuesday, 13 March, 2007, Blogger littleacornman said...

No probs cell,glad it was of some use.

Most of my 32% vpip comes at 6 max Juice.I'm not sure what my stat would be at full ring.Probably very very low as I'd be asleep most of the time :-)


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