8 Tips to Crush Micro Stakes
Moving up in stakes is one of the most frequently discussed issues in poker. A lot of players struggle to move up, because they’re more focused on studying “theory” and less focused on exploiting the mistakes their opponents are making. It’s time to play “street poker” and exploit the players you’re up against. Here are eight tactics you should add to your game immediately to increase your winrate and move up in stakes.
1. Fold bluff-catchers vs big bets
Bluff-catchers are the types of hands that don’t have a great chance of improving to a monster hand. These would be hands like your 2nd pairs, 3rd pairs and underpairs. These hands perform terribly against big bets at microstakes, since they only have a few outs to make a strong hand, and your opponent likely has a pretty decent holding.
Against big acts of aggression at microstakes, it’s best to just fold everything that doesn’t beat their value hands or have a ton of equity like a nut flush draw. Especially on the river, there is no need to look people up with bluff-catchers. Just fold and move on.
2. Sizing tells
Players at microstakes give up a ton of info with their bet sizings. If they bet big on a dry flop where they should probably just bet 1/3 pot with their entire range, that’s telling you they likely have a good hand. Similarly, if they bet small in a spot where they could have a ton of value hands, they might have a weaker hand. Study your opponents and watch what sizings they use with what types of hands.
3. Win uncontested pots
Whenever you’re in a situation where the flop and turn check through, it’s very likely that neither of you has something good. Look to up the aggression and steal the pot here. By attacking small pots where nobody wants to take a stab, you can chip up your stack and overtime add a decent amount to your winrate. Stick your hand in the cookie jar, get a little greedy and add those chips to your stack.
4. Steal the blinds
At microstakes, people are very likely overfolding in the blinds. They don’t want to play unless they have a decent holding and will often just surrender their blind and move on to the next hand. This means we can attack aggressively from the button and small blind, raising more hands than we technically should according to GTO.
5. Fold more to 3-bets
When people show aggression at microstakes, alarm bells should be going off in your head. When a player 3-bets you at these stakes, especially from certain situations like the big blind, you want to react very cautiously.
Say, for example, you raise under the gun with QQ and the big blind 3-bets. 4-betting here could be a massive mistake, as sometimes microstakes players are only 3-betting KK+ from the big blind. Call your strong hands, and over-fold to these aggressive actions.
Everyone loves calling in the micros. Players love to bluff-catch, especially when they’ve already shown interest in the pot, like calling on the flop. Bluff less in situations where your opponent has shown interest, and instead go for value as often as possible. Even if your opponent can only have a couple hands worse than yours that might call, fire the value bet anyway. Sure, sometimes you’ll get called by better, but the money you’ll make from stubborn fish who “just wanted to see what you have” will make up for it!
7. Don’t try to bluff opponents off strong hands
Like we learned in the previous point, nobody likes folding. You won’t get ‘Mike from the auto shop’ off his top pair, basically ever. If you think your opponent has something good, and you missed your draw, just give up and move on to the next hand. As a general rule, if you bet twice and they call, never bluff the river. You’re almost always getting called down, and it’s just not worth the risk.
8. Break the theory rules
At micro stakes, the most important thing you can do is play simple, exploitative poker. “Street poker,” if you will. Focus on countering mistakes that your opponents are making, instead of trying to play GTO.
Do what you think is best, whether that be underbluffing, thin value betting, or any of the other points made above. Follow these 8 rules, think exploitatively, and eventually you’ll make it out of the microstakes.
If you want more help with getting out of the micro stakes, check out this article on bankroll management (key to moving up in stakes), or this one on how to choose a poker course that is right for you!