The micro-stakes in cash games (or micro-limits) are considered anything between $0.01/$0.02 – $0.25/$50. Just for reference:
- Micro Stakes: $0.01/$0.02
- Low stakes: $0.50/$1 up to $2/$4
- Mid Stakes: $3/$6 up to $5/$10
- High Stakes: $6/$12 and higher.
Why is Poker Strategy Different for Micro-Stakes Games?
The thing about micro limits tables is that while they’re generally full of fish it also makes it an aggressive strategy in these games very unprofitable. The difference between “fish” and regulars at the low stakes tables is that fish will call a lot more of your bluffs even when they don’t have a hand. They will also “luck box” against you more because when everyone is calling the blinds you’re likely to lose to a monster hand by the flop. Even with a hand like TPTK on the flop, the chances of another opponent beating you if there are more than 3 others in the pot is pretty high.
The outcome of playing against fish means you can’t afford to bluff as often as you normally would. Generally speaking, a good WTSD% (went to show down after seeing flop) is between 20 – 40%. Anything higher than this however is overplay and means that your opponent is a call station. Bad players tend not to be able to study your previous moves or narrow down your hand range either, so advanced strategy such as “floating” or “double barrelling” won’t work properly. They won’t recognise when you’re ahead so it’s pointless bluffing like this most of the time.
How to Adjust to Micro Limits Cash Games
1) Tighten Up Your Starting Hands: It might be boring but trust me you have to tighten up your starting hands in micro limit games. I recommend playing like you would in the beginning of an MTT: your top 20% of hands (1010+, pocket pairs, AJ+ etc). The problem with 3betting light in micro limits is that a lot of opponents are going to call you off with anything. And then you end up on a situation on a missed flop with opponents that are effectively too dumb to bluff.
2) Don’t Bluff: Bluffing is an essential part of poker, but bluffing against calling stations simply doesn’t work. Period. If you’re semi-bluff or continuation bet on the flop fails then you’re less likely to be successful double-barrelling or even triple-barrelling the river. You wouldn’t believe how many times a micro limit donk will call your raises with just an over card or Ax only to “suck out” on your on the river and win the pot. It gets worse though, because when you’re constantly getting sucked out on it can put you on immense tilt. This negatively effects your game and overall makes online poker less fun.
3) Raise Only When You’re 100% Ahead: Since you’re raises are going to get called a lot more, you need to be more confident that you’re ahead (or at least have implied odds or a strong draw e.g. combo-draw). Again, it’s seem pretty counter-intuitive as a good poker player by not semi-bluffing or bluffing when you’re behind, but the fact is that when your opponents are playing too loosely you need to tighten up. Obviously you don’t want to constantly be giving your opponents odds when you have some equity such as bottom-pair on the flop, but you do need to exercise pot control if you’re not sure whether your bottom pair will stand up at showdown.
4) Value Bet Your Strong Hands: This is where playing against calling stations pays off. When you get strong hands like TPTK or nut flush you should be playing them thick and fast. Make big raises on each street and at most only slow-play one street in the hand (i.e. only check on one street if you want your opponent to catch up). Make higher raises than you normally would (e.g. 25% higher) against opponents in cash games to extract maximum value against opponents who make calls at terrible odds. Finally, always 3bet or open-raise your premium hands pre-flop regardless of what position you’re in. A rule I go by is that it’s better to at least try 3betting the board with 1010+ pre-flop and fold others round the table, rather than limp with QQ and see over cards on the flop. These are the kind of pots that you can end up losing a lot of chips in when an opponent hits an Ace or King.
5) Don’t Give Your Opponents Tips: Obviously you wouldn’t do this in a online game, but sometimes when you’re playing live you can’t help but point out when an opponent did something wrong or gave his hand away. At the end of the day poker is a war and the opponent is your enemy. The more that you help him, the less that you help yourself and effectively your reducing your winning margin.