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.