Stop making poker so hard!
Just posted this on my blog, thought i'd cross post here for people who might miss it, and because I'm trying to do more strategy posts in general so CC will always be the main beneficiary of that!
Hopefully its interesting and you get something out of it!
WHY U MAKE POKER SO HARD?!?!?
So in the last few days I've seen a lot of threads on forums, with people asking crazy questions about hands and spots played at the micros, and a lot of them my first thought has been "ffs just fold pre!". And its not like I'm some super nit that just cant get my head around someone 3betting 69s from the SB, I just know that its not needed to win.
So in this post I will give my top tips to keep poker easy!
REASONS FOR BETTING
When we bet, we should primarily be doing it for 1 of 2 reasons, for value (when we are likely to be ahead) and as a bluff (when we think we can make better hands fold). There may be some of you saying that there are more reasons, and I bet I can guess what your saying...."To see where I'm at" and "to protect my hand"?? Thought so, these come as a RESULT of betting for value or as a bluff, but should never be the sole reason to bet and i'll quickly break down why.
"To see where I'm at", this is betting for information, but you should already have a rough idea of how strong your hand is, and information can be obtained by betting for value or a bluff, for example.
We hold TT, the flop comes down 3s7sJh, we're OOP and theres a J on the flop as an overcard to our pocket pair, but there is still value to be had from betting here, think about what hands could call a bet, AK/AQ/KQ/KT/QT could peel a street, as might 88/99/89/9T/56/45, plus any suited spade hands villain may have, these are all hands that we are ahead of, so we can bet for value trying to get one of those hands to make a mistake, and call a bet when they are behind to our TT. So we bet, but zomg villain raises, now lets say that we know villain doesnt raise draws, and if he raises he usually has top pair or better, well that means we're prob behind, we bet for value and in the process got information from the villain that we are most likely beat.
On the flip side, you could also say that by betting there we are also protecting our hand from any draw that might check behind, take a free card, and end up with a hand that beats us on the turn. So we have protected our hand, and gotten info that we are behind, but that wasnt the reason we bet in the first place, first and foremost we were going for VALUE.
So my first top tip:
When betting, always ask yourself why you are betting, for value, or as a bluff? Will worse hands call a bet here? If so then bet for value. Can I make a better hand fold? If so then your betting as a bluff. That leads me to my next tip....
VALUE VALUE VALUE!!!
I'll tell you something right now, that needs to be remembered and always in the back of your mind, While at the micros, when you ask yourself, can i make a better hand fold.....the answer will most likely be no.
[image: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7PU5hXXstRk/T3HbxgjdF6I/AAAAAAAAADk/NFNj2mo9IF8/s1600/value.jpg] (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7PU5hXXstRk/T3HbxgjdF6I/AAAAAAAAADk/NFNj2mo9IF8/s1600/value.jpg)
"But neil, ive been waiting hours for these f**king pocket kings, I know theres an ace on that dry ass flop but I havent played a hand all day, even if he has an ace i can surely represent AK or a set and get him to fold a worse ace thats actually beating me, because he knows I'm a nit and haven't played a hand, surely he's paid attention to that!!!"
No he hasnt, when he raises your flop cbet, you won't make him fold his A9 here if you shove over the top, he just sees he has an ace, see's that he's paired it and will call anything, he doesnt think about your range, the relative strength of his hand or anything like that, his cards are all he cares about.
To make money at the micro's your absolute number one tactic should be to valuebet mercilessly, this is because the biggest leak that micro fish have is calling too much, its that simple, they call and put too much money in the pot when they shouldnt, be that chasing their gutshot straight draw (while holding 45, calling bets trying to hit a 6 on a 37x board) when your giving them no odds to do so, or when they hit middle pair after limp calling Q6s preflop and call 3 streets with it, they are just calling too much when they shouldnt. Its obvious then to exploit this (and being awesome poker players we're always looking to exploit weakness) is to bet....and keep betting when we have a hand, and generally shutdown when we don't or when raised. A common hand at the micros goes a little like the follwing,
We hold AK on the button, a bad player limps (calls the BB) before it gets to us, we raise for value, because we have a strong hand and he calls preflop with worse, he calls like we knew he would, and the flop comes down K39, he checks to us and we bet, he calls, the turns a 6, he checks and we bet again, he calls, the rivers a Q and he checks to us, the only hand he really could have here that beats us is JT or a lucky 2 pair hand like K9/K6 or KQ, but theres still value in betting the river so we're going to bet, we dont have much $$ left and the pot is big enough now that we're pretty much committed, so we just shove all in for the rest of our chips..... and he calls it off with KT, EZ game, reload bitch!!! This maybe sounds too easy, and maybe too good to be true, but it is, and I could show you hundreds of hands i've played that went down just like that.
So, Second Top Tip:
At the micros, in general, just bet bet bet until the villain shows any strength, then re-evaluate, for a top tip within a top tip, if someone check calls the flop and then check-raises the turn when you bet again, 1 pair is no good, I can almost guarantee it!
Men of the world, women need some variety in the bedroom, there are more positions than missionary and doggy style.......oh, wrong blog!
[image: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jB4Y_-dZGYQ/T3HeCIEokWI/AAAAAAAAADs/ag1SiN7poAY/s1600/pos.jpg] (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-jB4Y_-dZGYQ/T3HeCIEokWI/AAAAAAAAADs/ag1SiN7poAY/s1600/pos.jpg)
Srsly now, in poker, position is power, if your in position you get to act last and see what everyone else has to say about their hand before you make a decision on what your going to do, if they act weak you can bet, if they act strong you can get out of the way. As such we should be playing many more hands when we're in late position and are going to be last to act during the hand, while when we're in early position and going to be out of position (oop) for the entire hand, we should be playing as little hands as possible.
A common spot where people seem to trip up on this is 3betting from the blinds vs late position openers, 3bettings a whole different strategy post, and one that I need to do some work on myself, but what I know from practice is that 3betting light from the blinds should not be overused at the micros, there are spots it can be used, when we have information on villain tendencies and maybe have a bit of history, but just like any bet you can analyse it using the value bet or bluff reasoning.
Another hand for an example,
At 5nl, We have 69 suited in the small blind, its folded around to a villain in late position who opens for 3x the bb, folded to us and we have a decision to make (apparently, as i've seen a HH like this very recently).
So we ask ourselves, can I 3bet here for value? The answer is most definetly no, nothing worse than 69 suited is going to call a raise here so we cant bet for value at all. Can we 3bet as a bluff? if we have a decent amount of history with the villain, ive saw him opening light from LP, and i know he folds to 3bets etc etc, then possibly, but this HH was for an unknown so we'll take that as our reads, and whats the general fish leak at the micros again? Villains calling too much! So no, we can't really 3bet an unknown as a bluff because he's very rarely folding. So if we 3bet here we're often going to be out of position, with a crap hand, vs a guy that doesnt fold, and might even be pretty strong, even if we hit the board and make a pair we're not going to be putting much more money in the pot because relatively, even if we hit TP on a 9xx flop, its not going to play very well in a 3bet pot, where holdings are generally a bit stronger.
So Third (and final for now) top tip:
When OOP think of reasons to fold your hand rather than reasons to play it, no-one will ever critisice you for making tight folds from early position, if you want to add a few more strings to your bow (opening up your game/3betting light/floating etc), learn to do it IP where villains are going to be playing more face up and its going to be a lot easier to judge their strength.
So.......that was my gift to you, 3 tips that I think are, not just important, but maybe vital to having success at the micro stakes.
[image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-omAi9VsFs4s/T3Hfv6H6JqI/AAAAAAAAAD8/QqXEWE80XGk/s1600/shark.bmp] (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-omAi9VsFs4s/T3Hfv6H6JqI/AAAAAAAAAD8/QqXEWE80XGk/s1600/shark.bmp)
Be the shark, not the fish!
Beating the legions of fish at 2, 5 and 10nl can be a grind, they can suck out with their weak TP hands and make 2 pair on rivers, they can hit their gutshot draws and crack your AA, but they aren't hard to beat, it just takes some discipline, perseverence and determination, thats the hard part imo.
Don't make it harder by doing stupid things out of position, slow playing your big hands when you should be going for some fat value, and not having a clear idea of where you are in the hand and why you are doing what your doing.
Beating on fish is easy, dont complicate things!