How to Beat Micro Stakes Poker
- Reviewed by WSOP Winner Chris ‘Fox’ Wallace
Micro stakes poker is the first and lowest rung on the online poker ladder, but also the most important one to conquer. The good news is that the micro limits are the easiest games to beat, and once you do you should have the confidence to move onto bigger and better stakes.
This guide aims to teach beginners the easiest way to beat the micro limits, if not the most profitable way. The difference between the two is that a very experienced player might make more profit using a very loose style, playing lots of pots and relying on their postflop experience to outplay less sophisticated opponents. However, beginners will benefit more from adopting a ‘tag nit’ style.
‘Tag’ = ‘tight aggressive’ and ‘nit’ means a player who plays very few hands. Didn’t make a strong hand? Check and fold. Made a strong hand? Bet it aggressively.
This style is exploitable and won’t allow you to easily beat mid or high stakes games, but due to the lower quality of play at micro stakes, you can get away with it. It’s also a good way to gain experience while keeping a tight rein on your bankroll.
Play pocket pairs
Play big pocket pairs aggressively to get value from your opponents, who will call more than they should. Play small and medium pocket pairs the same way pre-flop, but this time you’re looking to hit a set. If it doesn’t come, try to get to showdown cheaply and fold if your opponent bets hard!
Play un-dominated hands
Your opponents’ biggest mistakes will be playing dominated hands like ace-rag, Q-9, etc. When you play unpaired cards try to have hands that do well against your opponents’ range, for example A-K, A-Q, A-J, K-Q.
Play speculative hands in late position
By which we mean suited connectors and suited aces. Play them only when you have position and can act last preflop. You want to be making trips, two pair or a strong draw with these hands and playing them fast and aggressively when you do. Try to get to showdown cheaply with your medium strength hands, but if you can’t and your opponent is betting hard into you, just muck them.
Bet your strong hands, check your weak hands
When you have a strong hand in a micro stakes game, you want to be betting and raising with it. When you have a weak hand you want to be checking/calling/folding. Slowplaying for the most part is wrong.
The biggest mistake your opponents will make is paying you off with far too many hands, so when you check your strong hands you are not exploiting their biggest mistake. Bet your strong hands!
Players won’t bluff as much as you think
People will be bluffing you far less frequently than you think, so don’t be afraid to fold a strong hand in the face of aggression.
Position is everything
As a general rule, you will profit most playing hands from the button and will lose the most from the blinds, so it makes sense to play more hands from profitable positions. Acting last is a big advantage, so make sure you do it often.
Take the initiative
When you bet there are two ways you can win the pot: by having the best hand at showdown, or if your opponent folds. Obviously, if you check and call, you can only win if you have the strongest hand. Taking the initiative by leading out allows you to win more pots uncontested when no one has a particularly strong hand.
Bluffing is less effective
The single biggest mistake micro stakes players make is that they call too many bets. For that reason, bluffing is ineffective in micro stakes games. Yes, it may be exploitable if you always check/fold when you have nothing, but it doesn’t matter: players won’t be smart or observant enough to exploit this tendency and will often still pay you off when you bet hard with the nuts.
Categorize your opponents
At micro stakes tables you’ll likely find the majority of players play far too many hands and call too many bets. But there will be other players, too, ranging across the spectrum from tight to loose, passive to aggressive. It’s important to categorize your opponents, as you will want to modify the general outlines mentioned in this article against certain players.
For example, you may find players who are loose and bad, but will still fold to your bets. You can continuation-bet against these players knowing that you’ll successfully steal many pots from them on the flop. Yet another player may have very similar preflop stats, but will never fold on the flop: you should never try to bluff them. Knowing which is which is a vital, and profitable, detail to notice.
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