Micro-stakes: Building a roll and super-nitty success
I've seen a lot of posts geared towards micro-stakes cash play and players wishing to build a bankroll from scratch. Since I've had some success at both, I feel like I have something to contribute for new players.
Lot's of great stuff has already been posted about both topics. I'd just like to stress a few key points and add a twist or two.
I'm about to move up to $25 NLHE (again) after starting from $0. It took about 2 months playing 3-4 hours (some times more) per day. Most of that comes from small buy in tournaments, sit and go's, and $10 NLHE FR. I play a very similar style in all three. Essentially, I'm a nit. That won't get the money at higher limits but will be enough to get you through the really small games quickly.
I got $1.87 from some where... I don't know if it was a freeroll or if I had it laying in an account. I played .05/.10 LHE until I had enough ($4?) for $2 SnG's then I played those up to $20. I started sneaking into $10 NLHE games erry once in a while until I had $100. Then I played a mix of $5-$10 MTT's, $2-$8 SnG's, and $10 NLHE/PLO until I had enough for $25 NLHE.
That's pretty aggressive bankroll management to start but, I was quick to "move down" whenever I took a hit and tapered off my aggression as my roll grew. I played $10 NLHE when I had $100 and STILL played it when I had $400. I wouldn't buy into the $10 tournies or $8 SnG's unless I had "won" my entry fee playing smaller stakes. If I had won $20 playing $2 SnG's then I'd play in a $10 tourney.
You really want to play a super-tight, straight forward, (some what) passive game. The key thing to keep in mind: you have NO fold equity. ALL of your bets are getting called so, make sure you're betting when you're ahead and check/folding when you are behind. Don't worry about getting outplayed. At micros this will rarely happen. Bet your best hands for value pre-flop and try to flop monsters. Then bet like crazy and get paid off.
I only play about 12% of my hands pre-flop and only raise about half of those. That's a lot tighter and more passive than most would recommend. Over my last 1200 hands I'm running 17BB/100 hands playing that style. Of course, that's a ridiculously small sample size and 17BB/100 is impossible to maintain in the long term but, it's hard to build up a decent sample when you're moving up fast! To start, you only want to play bigger pairs and AK. Later, after a nitty image is established, you can open up with smaller pairs, other broadway hands, and suited connectors.
From the flop on, check/fold unless you have something. Bluffing will never work. Continuation bets rarely work, even when heads up. If you've got TPTK or better then bet BUT, be ready to throw your hand away at the slightest resistance. At this level, very few players are good enough to call you with nothing to try and take the pot away on later streets. Very few players are good enough to raise you with nothing.
Don't slow play EVER. If you've flopped a monster bet it hard, 3/4 pot bets or bigger, trying to get all of your chips in. Don't worry about scaring anyone away. Very few players will be good enough to get away from any kind of hand (bottom pair) or draw (inside straight). If you lose anybody, don't worry. Slow playing wouldn't have gotten any more money into the pot.
You need to be super-nitty. For your few opponents who are paying attention this will give you an image of a player who is impossible to call but easy to bluff. That's certain death at higher limits but at $10NLHE this image will be CREATING fold equity AND getting opponents to play back at you with weak holdings. And that's what you want...
After your opponents "get" that you only raise pre-flop w/ big hands and only continue when you flop a big hand, you can open up your pre-flop range in late/middle position and start cbetting flops more often. You'll know the time is right when you raise w/ AA UTG and everyone folds around our you start getting comments about how ridiculously tight you, "he always has it".
Also, after they've seen you fold a lot of flops and turns they'll start trying to take pots away from you. Having opponents trying to "raise you off" your flopped sets can be very profitable. You can also check your monster draws OOP and get players w/ NOTHING to "bet you out". In these situations, your nitty image will give your check raise some serious fold equity. And so what if he calls? He doesn't have anything so you can still take the pot away on the turn even if you don't hit your draw.
For your opponents who aren't paying attention, your image won't matter. So, just focus on playing pots against them premium holdings and not getting out of line OOP.
A couple more thoughts:
Fold a lot and fold "out of confusion". You want to be in the drivers seat. You want to be betting on the lead or getting out of the hand. If you don't know where you are don't call or bet for information. Fold.
For example: You raise a limper pre-flop with AK and get a called. Flop comes KT2, you bet and get called. Turn is a 5 and your opponent bets in to you. Guess what? He isn't making a play. He really does have K5. When you get confused don't "think your way" through the hand. Just fold. You'll have plenty of opportunities to get the money later, betting the nuts for value, and getting called.
Fold every hand you can. Fold until you can't fold anymore. And then, when you can't fold, raise.
The exceptions to that "raise or fold" mentality are playing medium/small pocket pairs pre-flop and multi-way pots.
You really want to see a flop with any pocket pair. You don't want people folding when you raise with 99 and you don't want people 3betting you off 44. Limp in or call small raises. Flop a set and jam or fold. Even when your 99 is an over pair, check/fold.
More limping: After 2 or more limpers raising with anything besides QQ+ is pretty pointless. Limp along... Raising 3 limpers w/ AK will most likely get you in a four way pot with your only hope being to flop an ace or a king. Even then you stand to lose more than you will gain. Better to conceal the strength of your hand by limping and hope to hit the flop while being ready to toss it in to any aggression.
If you limp behind and catch an AKx (or even an Axx) flop, you'll get plenty of action, even whole stacks, from weak aces. You can't have AK right? You would have raised with it.
Being a nit is no fun. I can't play this style without at least four tables running, it's just too boring. But, nearly all of your profit in micro games will come from your opponents making HUGE mistakes post flop. You basically just need to keep folding, and saving your bets, until your opponents make them.
If they don't make any mistakes early in the session then your nitty image will allow you to start opening up, being more aggressive, and making plays.
After an hour or so you'll have the whole table folding when you raise w/ Q6 and "bluffing" you off the pot when you flop a set of nines.
Anyway, I hope this helps somebody burn through micro stakes and move up or turn freeroll winnings into a starting bankroll. I'm open to any questions, comments, criticisms, or nasty flames.
Now I'm going to start trying to beat $25 NLHE