Win Playing Low Stakes Poker - Top 5 Tips in 2015
Low Stakes Online Poker Strategies That Work
My main goal when playing micro stakes cash games online has always been to beat them for the highest possible win rate — to crush these stakes. I am not interested in just squeaking by and relying heavily on rakeback in order to turn a profit like many regs these days. I want most of my profits to come directly from the tables instead.
The great thing about having a massive win rate is that you will have many more winning days than losing ones. In fact when I used to mass multi-table the lowest stakes I would very rarely have a losing day because my win rates were so ridiculously high.
However, the games have tightened up a fair bit in the past five years. Is it still possible in 2015 to beat these stakes at such a crazy pace? The answer is yes, but some adjustments are required. Here are five tips for crushing the micros in today’s online poker environment.
1. Table Selection is King
Long gone are the days where you can load up a bunch of random tables at NL25 or even NL2 and expect to find a huge fish on every single one who can’t wait to give you his stack. You will be lucky if you even spot a few of them now.
Ruthless attention to table selection is absolutely necessary in order to succeed at these stakes in today’s games. This means that you should be constantly on the lookout for the bad players and tagging them right away. By bad players I mean those who play 40% or more of their hands in either full ring or 6-max. cash games.
You should also be doing everything that you can to get a seat on their left. Having position on a recreational player will make it infinitely easier to get that player’s stack.
If you do not see one of these players at your table, then you should move to a different one. If achieving a massive win rate is something that is truly a priority for you, then there should always be a clear reason why you remain at a given table.
Following this advice will undoubtedly lead to most sessions being a constant game of musical chairs. It does become easier over time once you have tagged a lot of the recreational players who frequent the games. However, this is the price of big success at the micros today. You simply cannot expect to crush any game unless there is at least one player in it who is playing very, very poorly. No matter how good you are, the regs simply do not make enough fundamental mistakes in order for you to turn a huge profit against them.
2. Reduce the Number of Tables
If you are taking table selection seriously (as you should), then something has to give. It is a serious time commitment to be constantly tagging the fish and chasing them around. For me personally, I had to reduce the number of tables that I play. There was simply no way I could expect to continue 24-tabling and have the time both to table select properly and make high quality poker decisions. So these days I play way fewer tables — 12 at the very most.
Now don’t get too caught up with the numbers here. It doesn’t matter how many tables you currently play. You should simply play the amount that allows you to make good quality poker decisions without feeling rushed. If this is just one table for you right now, then that is fine.
That said, most people who are reading this article probably play at least a couple of tables online (I am talking about regular tables by the way, not Zoom). If you want to make sure you’re always getting a good seat in good games, then it may be necessary to cut down your total, at least for a while. Remember we are looking for quality over quantity here.
3. Don’t Play Zoom
I know this might be a shocker to some at first, but if having a huge win rate is important to you then you need to stop playing Zoom poker (or other, similar “fast-fold” games). And it is not just because these games play extremely tight. The biggest reason why is because you can’t table select.
When you sit down to play Zoom at the micro stakes you are dealt into a pool of hundreds of players. You have absolutely no way of knowing how many recreational players are currently playing. Furthermore, even if you happen to find one, due to the sheer size of the player pool, you will very rarely get to play a hand against that player.
At the regular tables, if there is a recreational player present, then in theory you could play against that player every single hand. Furthermore, you can also make sure that you get position on these players which as I mentioned before is absolutely crucial to your ability to get the max value out of them. This is simply not possible in Zoom.
Zoom poker is a highly convenient and exciting new way to play the game. It is also fantastic for rakeback grinders who want to put in big volume. However, it is not conducive to achieving a big win rate.
4. Use Your HUD Effectively
As I mentioned earlier, I typically define recreational players as those who play 40% or more of their hands. How do you get this information though? The easiest way is to use a poker tracking program and the associated HUD (heads up display) that comes with it.
These programs will read your hand histories and compile the data into useful information which is then displayed right beside the player’s name at the table. If you play on multiple tables at once, then there is no way that you are going to be able to keep track of every single opponent. Using a HUD makes doing so much easier.
5. Isolate the Recreational Players and Value Bet Them Relentlessly
So you have found the recreational players now and ideally grabbed a seat to their left. Great! Now it is your job to get their stack before any of the other regs do.
The best way to go about doing this is to isolate their limps with a wide variety of hands. Try to get into as many pots with them as possible. They will make huge mistakes both preflop and postflop, which means in turn that waiting for the nuts to get involved against them is also a mistake. By the way, when I say “isolate” I mean raise. Don’t ever limp along behind them. Take control of the pot instead.
After the flop it is always important to remember that recreational players do not like to fold. If they have anything at all then they will likely be calling. So it is fine to make a continuation bet on the flop most of the time. However, if you have no pair and no draw by the turn, you should just give up. Running a big bluff against a calling station is just suicide for your win rate.
On the flip side, you should value bet them frequently when you actually have something. And since they are going to call with such a wide range of hands, you don’t need to have the nuts by any means. Top pair, middle pair... heck, sometimes even bottom pair is enough to get value out of them!
Lastly, make sure that you bet big versus these players when you have a big hand. It is true that they will fold sometimes. But you need to remember that this is just the way that the game works. You didn’t “scare them out.” They just didn’t have anything to call you with this time. Make sure that you charge them the maximum when they do.
Having a big win rate at the micros today is still very doable. In an era when the games play tighter, it just requires a bigger commitment to finding the recreational players and consistently playing against them. If you choose to battle it out with the regs all day, a mediocre win rate is about the best that you can hope to achieve. Recreational players are the lifeblood of the poker industry. Go find them, stack them, and crush.
Nathan “BlackRain79” Williams is the author of the popular micro stakes strategy books, Crushing the Microstakes and Modern Small Stakes. He also blogs regularly about all things related to the micros over at www.blackrain79.com.