Notes from the book

  • The consensus has long been that the very best live players can beat the two lowest stakes ($1/$2 and $2/$5) for about 10 big blinds per hour.

  • So in terms of actual money this equates to: 1/2 - $20 an hour, 2/5 - $50 an hour.

  • In online poker results are tracked a bit differently. Instead of bb/hour, the standard metric used is big blinds per 100 hands played (bb/100).

  • Here are the winrates that the very best online poker players make at each level of the micros:
    • 1c/2c - 30bb/100
    • 2c/5c - 20bb/100
    • 5c/10c - 14bb/100
    • 10c/25c - 10bb/100
    • 25c/50c - 8bb/100
    • 50c/$1 - 6bb/100
  • My advice to play tight is still absolutely the way to go at the lower stakes. But you also need to play aggressively in the right spots as well though. This is why I recommend a style of play at these limits that is known as “TAG.” This stands for tight and aggressive. What does this actually mean in practice? At a 6max poker table (6 players) I suggest playing the top: 20% of hands that are dealt to you. At a full ring poker table (9 players) I suggest playing the top 15% of hands that are dealt to you.

  • If you are in early position (EP) or the blinds (SB and BB), then the range of hands that you play should be tighter than normal. This is because you will have to act first on every single street after the flop which is a huge disadvantage.

  • However, if you have a better position at the table such as middle position (MP), the cutoff (CO) or the button (BUT), then the range of hands that you play should be wider than normal. This is because you get to act last on every single street after the flop which is a huge advantage.

  • Look who have raised before you. If SB, BB has raised then be very concerned as they generally have a much tighter range.

  • I would suggest making your 3Bet 3x the original raise if you are in position (IP) and 4x the original raise if you are out of position (OOP).

  • You should just flat call with several non-premium speculative hands as well like:
    • Small and Mid Pocket Pairs (22-99)
    • Broadways (AJ, AT, KQ, KJ, QJ)
    • Suited Connectors (JTs, 98s, 87s)
  • I would suggest that you keep your calling range fairly tight for now at these stakes though (i.e. just fold versus a raise with hands that are not listed above). The biggest reason why is that it is much harder to win the pot when you don’t have the betting lead.

  • When somebody 4Bets you, I would recommend only continuing if you have the nuts yourself.

  • Well one of the things that you need to know about the lower stakes is that almost everybody plays really passively. This means that when they 4Bet you, they are very unlikely to be bluffing. They very often have a huge hand. And by huge hand I mean AA, KK, AK or QQ.

  • You should CBet the flop roughly 2/3 of the time versus one player.

  • Your CBet size should typically be 1/2 to 2/3 of the pot size (e.g. pot is $10, CBet $5 or $6).

  • Against a single opponent you should make a CBet if you connect with the board in any way. This means any pair and any draw. You should also be CBetting quite frequently versus a single opponent with ace high, king high, queen high and sometimes even worse especially if you are IP.

  • I would suggest not making a CBet if you are OOP with nothing and you don’t think that the chances are very good that your opponent will fold.

  • There are two main reasons why your opponent will not fold:
    • He/she is a calling station
    • The board is wet and coordinated.
  • Many of your opponents at the micros will be beginners or recreational players. They like to call a lot. This is why it is not wise to run big time bluffs at these stakes. In fact, sometimes when you have nothing at all it is better to not even waste a flop CBet on them.

  • One of the biggest keys to success at the lower end of the micros in particular is avoiding FPS (fancy play syndrome). If you have nothing, just fold.

  • You should continue with a tight and aggressive strategy on the turn at the micros as well. I would suggest making a CBet again on the turn (double barrel) roughly 50% of the time. Now once again, versus multiple opponents you are going to need to tone it down considerably. But in general even against just one opponent at the micros you should have a decent made hand or a good draw most of the time when you continue betting on this street.

  • You do not want to be firing a double barrel with a complete airball versus all of the calling stations at these limits. They won’t fold their pair or draw and therefore you are just lighting money on fire by trying to bluff them.

  • I would suggest making another CBet on the river (triple barrel) only when you have a very strong hand such as top pair top kicker or better. - The reason why is that very few players are going to call a raise preflop and then 3 consecutive bets at these stakes with a worse hand than this.

  • Multiple Barrels = Strong Hand. Firstly, versus a double or a triple barrel you should only be calling (or raising) with a very strong hand. As I have mentioned several times already, most players are very passive at these stakes. This means that they often mean business when they start betting big on the turn and river in particular. Also, due to the high amount of prolific calling stations in low limit games it is often suicide for your winrate to run big bluffs on these later streets as well. Because they will of course just call you down!

  • Turn and River Raises = Monster Hand. And finally, if your double or triple barrel gets raised at these limits then you typically need to have the nuts in order to continue. Passive players will simply not take an extremely aggressive line like this without a huge hand. Learning to fold in these situations will make a massive difference to your bottom line.

  • Keep a copy with you and write down decisions taken for each hand.

More notes from Blackrain79

  • Rec players are the people who are playing 40% or more of their hands in full ring or 6max. They will usually either be incredibly passive (limping and calling way too much). Or in some cases they will be wildly aggressive (raising, re-raising and bluffing way too much).

  • In both cases they lose big and they lose fast as well. These players typically have a loss rate that is 20bb/100 or more. Sometimes way more. Whereas, even the very worst regs typically have a loss rate of about 5bb/100 at the most.

  • Bad poker players are the masters of getting their money in with the worst hand with 30% equity in the pot, 20% or even less. There is no way that you can keep doing this and expect to turn a profit in the long run.

  • Whereas, even the very worst regs typically have a loss rate of about 5bb/100 at the most.

  • It is important to know how to quickly identify the weaker poker players especially as you move up the limits. You could always just sit down at a random table and play a few orbits until your HUD shows you which players are playing way too many hands and not raising very often.

  • I typically look for players who are playing at least 40% of their hands. Anybody playing this many hands is definitely a recreational bad poker player (i.e. kind of guys that we want to be playing against!). They will also typically have a low preflop raise % as well.

  • Limping is almost always bad in poker. There are almost no situations where it makes any sense at all.

  • Having the initiative in the hand is just much more +EV (expected value) in nearly all spots. So if you see someone limping, especially open limping from MP, LP or the SB, there is no question that this is a bad poker player.

  • Some regs will still open limp from EP or perhaps over-limp or complete the SB with a speculative hand. I don’t always note that. I am looking for chronic open limping especially from positions where it never makes any sense to do so.

  • I generally just mark anyone who buys in for an amount below 100bb as a bad poker player right away.

  • Under-betting the Pot Postflop is another pretty clear sign a weaker player. Especially when they are betting amounts such as a 1/4 of the pot or less. No good player would ever do that because it gives the other player(s) almost no incentive to fold at all and clear odds to call with basically any draw.

  • Even bets of 1/3 pot have very little applicability in a no limit hold’em cash game.

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