Posts Tagged ‘micro stakes’

Micro Stakes Differences

Friday, January 20th, 2012

The term “micro stakes” collectively lumps together limits ranging from $0.01/$0.02 to $0.25/$0.50, which often makes the poker strategy run together as well. However, it’s important to understand that there are several noticeable differences as you move from the lower end of the micro stakes cash games to the $0.25/$0.50 end – especially when it comes to No Limit Hold’em.

First off, in $0.01/$0.02 (2NL) games, players don’t value the money nearly as much because the buy-in is normally $2.00 at the most. So if you bust your entire stack twice in an hour, you’ve only lost a total of $4.00. This being the case, people are loose with both their money and play because there’s little consequence to losing. So you need to watch out for both players that are willing to call big raises (relative to big blinds ratio), and those who are frequently willing to go all-in with top or middle pair.

To address the first issue, where players call lots of raises just to see the flop, you can’t follow the standard preflop raising rules for high stakes players to protect premium hands. Instead, you often need to bet 8x the big blind or more to isolate one player after the flop with AA through JJ to keep the advantage.

Now this will also depend on the table and how everybody’s playing, but just be aware that raising 3xbb in a $0.01/$0.02 game isn’t going to ward off too many callers. Furthermore, if three or four people call your preflop raise while you’re holding aces, you may need to hit a set just to win the hand.

Moving to the second aforementioned point, which involves players going all-in with top pairs and second pairs, this is another edge that you can exploit. To find the players who are willing to go all-in with pairs on dangerous boards where you could be holding the nuts, you need to identify each player’s range.

For instance, some players may be willing to shove a full cash game buy-in from early position with Q-J(o) on a board of A-Q-9. Here the player could easily be beaten by an ace, yet they’re willing to go all-in with little information on anybody else’s hand. If you see players who’ve made plays like this before, you can be a lot more confident calling with a top pair or two pair in these scenarios.

As you move up towards the end of the micro stakes realm where 50NL games lie, be aware that players are less likely to call huge preflop raises just to see the flop with something like Q-T(o). Also, you aren’t going to see as many people shove when they’re holding top pair on dangerous boards, or middle pair on any board. Simply put, you’re going to need to play better poker, know more poker strategy, and do a lot of extra thinking in these games.

Limping into an Unraised Pot

Monday, December 5th, 2011

One thing that many online poker players preach against is limping into an unraised pot – especially from early position. The reason why limping (calling the big blind) is highly frowned upon is because you are not only showing total weakness in your hand, but you’re most likely going to be raised by at least one other player. So if you’re limping with A-T from under the gun, just don’t bother.

Back to the original point, many online poker players wonder if there is ever a situation where it’s okay to limp into an unraised pot from early position. And the answer is ‘yes’, there are some rare instances where limping into an unraised pot can be profitable. But before we continue with the reasoning behind this thought, keep in mind that, as a beginning player, you should stick to raising or folding from early position until you’re more experienced.

One situation where profitable open limping arises is on tables full of calling stations who build great pot odds for suited connectors and other drawing hands. For example, let’s say that you’re holding QsJs under the gun, which is a fold for most players in this spot. However, you’re on a micro stakes table where everybody’s calling preflop just to see some cards; in this instance, you can open limp and hope that the table dynamic continues. Even if somebody does raise, there would be enough calling stations who’ll stay in the hand and give you solid pot odds on future streets.

One more scenario where open limping could work is if you’re holding a premium hand, and there’s a very aggressive player to your left who might shove just to steal the blinds and your open limp bet. Obviously this is a very specific scenario, but it’s another instance where open limping could work.

Looking at things from an overall perspective, it’s very rare that open limping is a good idea, and only experienced players will be able to spot these situations with consistency.

Ukraine Poker Boom coming?

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Before the 2011 WSOP, there had yet to be a Ukraine-born poker player win a bracelet. 39 events into this year’s WSOP, three Ukrainians have now added gold bracelets to their poker resume.

The three players who have won in the 2011 WSOP include former chess player and Las Vegas resident Arkadiy Tsinis, poker star Eugene Katchalov, and Oleksii Kovalchuk. Out of the three, Kovalchuk is the only player who still lives in the Ukraine, but all three are recognized as Ukrainians. Seeing as how three people from a country that had never won a bracelet before have now tasted success, one definitely has to wonder if a poker boom is coming in the country.

Now before we get started, it’s definitely worth mentioning that a poker boom experienced by this country would not be anywhere close to the magnitude of the American boom of 2003. After all, the US has nearly 300 million people, compared to 46 million in Ukraine, and the States offer average salaries of $37k per year, as opposed to $1,500-$2,000.

However, you can bet that plenty of new Ukrainians will be taking up the game with what money they have. And even if these players don’t have a ton of money to put into the game, the micro stakes can still offer Ukrainians a decent living when you consider their average salary.

You can bet that we’ll be watching this situation with interest over the next couple of years. But even if poker doesn’t explode in Ukraine as expected, it’s still pretty impressive that a country halfway around the world could take three of the 58 available WSOP bracelets in one year. There’s no doubt that this country will be taking more bracelets in the upcoming years too.

Micro Stakes Bankroll Management

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Some people claim that the micro stakes are unbeatable, which is a complete lie. The micro stakes offer the lowest form of competition available, as long as you’re willing to be patient and avoid being overly-aggressive against calling stations. Okay, it involves a little more than this, but the point of this article is to talk about micro stakes bankroll management.

The biggest problem people have when it comes to low limit bankroll management is playing at stakes where they can’t cover a sufficient amount of buy-ins. For example, a player will deposit $25 into a poker site, then jump into $0.05/$0.10 No-Limit Hold’em. This might seem okay since you’re playing against weaker players, but you also have to consider that $25 is only enough to cover 2-and-a-half buy-ins at these stakes. If you suffer a few bad beats at these limits, you are going to lose your bankroll rather quickly.

So instead of jumping into $0.05/$0.10 NLHE with a $25 bankroll, it’s a much better idea to drop down to $0.01/$0.02. Seeing as how the competition is so easy at these limits, and people are willing to go all-in with 8-6 (off-suit) on a regular basis, you’ll be able to experience success rather quickly. Sure there will be times when you’ll get beat by these crazy hands, but the large majority of the time, you will win lots of money (comparative to stakes).

More importantly, taking a $25 bankroll into $0.01/$0.02 NLHE gives you twelve-and-a-half buy-ins at these stakes. This means that you have plenty of buy-ins to survive bad variance and ultimately make some money. Now playing limits these low isn’t exactly ideal in terms of your overall money goals, but look at it this way: if you make $0.80 in an hour, you’ve made 40 big blinds. And if you consistently do this, you’ll be moving up the limits in no time!