Tuesday, May 10, 2016

5 "Five Minute or Less" Poker Tips That Yield Big Results. Tip #3 Tripled My Winrate.

5 Poker Tips That Yield Big Results at the Micros
The game of poker, both online and live, is always changing. Therefore, if you want to stay on top you need to always be evolving with it as well.

So this is why I am constantly experimenting with new lines of attack at the poker tables, studying my opponents and running filters away from the tables in Pokertracker. 

In this article I am going to share with you 5 of my top strategies that have created big results for me at the poker tables. And the best thing about them is that they can all be implemented in a matter of minutes.


1. Raise the Flop More Against Regs Who CBet A lot


This might sound fairly obvious at first but it is surprising how little most people at the micros actually do it. It is also surprising just how effective it is against many regs at these limits. 


What type of regs am I talking about?

Guys like this (all names blacked out for privacy):

Poker tips for the micro stakes

Poker strategy at the micro stakes

Both of these TAG (tight and aggressive) regs have an above average FFR (fold to flop raise). This means that when they make their CBet on the flop they tend to fold to a raise a lot. 

This is very typical with regs who like to CBet a lot. Both of these players fit that profile to a tee. As you can see they have a CBF (CBet flop) of 83 and 69 respectively.

**As a quick aside: if you are confused about what all these numbers mean, they are taken from my custom HUD setup for Pokertracker 4. You can find out what every stat above refers to and even download my entire custom HUD for free and use it at the tables yourself right here.

Back to this discussion here. There are a few more key points to consider here.


1. Sample Size

Firstly, it should be noted that I have a sample of over 1k hands on both of these regs. I wouldn't even bother looking at this stat until you have at least a couple hundred hands on your opponent. CBets don't get raised all that often and that is why you need a big sample.


2. It is OK if They Don't Have a High FFR

Secondly, it should be noted that you can still target regs who CBet a lot but only fold to a raise a more average amount of the time (i.e., 40%). You will just need to be prepared to follow it up with another bet on the turn fairly often.


3. Always Have SOME Equity

Lastly, there is never any reason to use this play as a total bluff. It only makes sense to have some equity. This could be as little as just two overcards (6 outs). Always have some outs so that you can get lucky sometimes when they call you.  


The Key Point to Remember Here is This: With this line of attack, I am specifically targeting the regs who CBet a lot, typically 70% or more. I will do it even more against the 80% and 90% CBettors.

When they are CBetting this much, they simply can't have a hand all that often. Apply enough pressure and they will fold more often than not.


2. Steal the Blinds More Against Nits


Here is the scenario.

It is folded to you on the cutoff or the button and you are in a prime position to try and steal the blinds. But be honest now, how often do you actually have a look at the people left to act. Most of the time you probably just quickly glance at your own cards and decide whether to raise or not right?

This is a mistake.

The biggest key to an effective blind stealing strategy is tailoring your range based on who is left to act. If you only ever look at your own cards when deciding whether to steal or not, you are losing some serious EV.

To put it plainly, these are the kinds of guys who I am going to be stealing like crazy against:

Small stakes poker tips

Micro stakes poker tips

The 88 and the 91 above are the fold to steal percentages for these two players. These numbers are insanely high and you still see guys folding this much all the time at the micros.

But the real kicker here is that both of these guys also only have a 3Bet of 4. This is low even for full ring these days.

So you have two opponents here who fold basically 9 out of 10 times when somebody raises their blinds and they are only going to 3Bet you if they have a premium hand for the most part.

This is absolutely free money.

If I saw these two players in the blinds behind me my cards literally do not matter at all. I am raising 100% of the time.

Picking up these extra couple big blinds every orbit will make a massive impact on your long term earnings. Make sure you are focusing on who is left to act more often in steal situations and your winrate will thank you.


5 Poker Tips that will boost your win rate3. Play Short-Handed at Full Ring Tables


Ok so given the title of this article you were probably anxiously waiting for #3 weren't you? The pressure is on! I better not disappoint...

As you might know, I have preached on and on about table selection on this blog, in both of my books, in all of my videos and elsewhere for years now. You are probably sick of it by now!

However, there is a clear reason for this: Who you are playing against is more important for your long term winrate than anything else. And it is not even close.

If you consistently get on the left of terrible players and even just employ a very basic ABC strategy against them (this means playing tight, not bluffing too much and value betting a lot) it is literally impossible not to have a massive winrate.

I have been experimenting with some hardcore "bumhunting" as this is called at all stages of the micros for several years now. By this I mean that I am typically on just a handful of tables and I absolutely do not play unless I have direct position on a massive whale (40% VPIP or more).

Though my sample sizes with this approach are admittedly still on the small side, my winrates are so high that nobody would even believe me if I posted them.

And I am not talking about playing on some secret Euro sites here with tons of wild gamblers. I am doing this on supposedly "tough" sites like PokerStars for the most part.

As I discuss in my ultimate guide to table selection article, there are numerous ways to play against huge fish like this all the time especially at the lowest stakes.

5 poker tips that will triple your winrate

poker tips that will double your winrate

But one of the absolute best ways (which I have never revealed until now) is to play short-handed on full ring tables.


What is Short-Handed?

I define it as 2 to 5 players at the table.


Why Full Ring Tables?

Because most full ring players have absolutely no clue how to play short-handed.


The great thing about this strategy though is you don't need to be some world class short-handed specialist. Most of your opponents are terrible (this is the micros remember). And in any case, the entire reason I am there is because this is where some of the biggest, craziest fish show up.


Step #1

Go on PokerStars (or any site really) and look for full ring tables that have between 2 and 4 people who are actively playing.

Step #2

Take a seat to the direct left of any player who does not have a full stack or exhibits any of the other top 5 signs of bad poker players.

Step #3

Just play a totally normal game. Play a few more hands of course since it is short-handed, but you don't need to do anything special beyond that. Just value bet the crap out of the fish as usual and wait for them to flip out. This often happens very quickly when playing short-handed and before you know it they are handing you stack after stack.

Step #4

Profit (lots of it)


Best poker tips for the micros4. Play More Against the Weekend Maniacs


Another easy tip for increasing your winrate at the micros is to simply play more when they games are the best.


When are the games the best?

Friday and Saturday nights in North American and European time zones. This is when the crazies are coming back home from the bars and they fancy playing a little online poker.

I have consistently found the biggest lunatics for years now when playing during these times. They will often even show up on regular tables and in Zoom games during these hours meaning that you don't need to chase them around and do all sorts of table selection.

Now of course the variance can be extremely high when playing against a loose aggressive maniac. This is why it is important above all to do everything that you can to get position on them. If you are unable to get position on them, then you are going to have to play tight and just be patient.

Be prepared for some rough nights on occasion versus players like this. Sometimes they are going to get lucky and it will sting. However, remember that these players dump more money (and at a quicker pace) than anyone.

Some of my most profitable nights over the years have been when playing against the Friday and Saturday night maniacs. Try to put in more volume during these highly profitable times.

And on the flip side, try to avoid putting in lots of volume at terrible times like a Monday or a Tuesday morning. Nobody is looking to gamble, everybody is sober and playing like a rock.


BlackRain79 poker tips for the micros5. Set a 5 Buyin Stop Loss


Most people at the micros these days have a reasonable understanding of the game. For instance, they understand the basics of value betting, position, aggression and so on.

Where the wheels come off though for most micro stakes players is when they run bad. When they hit one of those "hell sessions" as I call them:
  • You miss every set
  • You have KK, they have AA
  • You miss every flop
  • They nail every flop
  • When you finally make a hand, they have a better one
And so on. 

When a session like this happens (and especially several of them in a row) most players at the micros lose their mind along with large chunks of their bankroll in the process.

So many people absolutely murder their winrate during these sessions by chasing losses when they are in their worst possible mental state to play.

I would say that most people's mental state starts going downhill after losing about 5 buyins. After all, digging yourself out of a hole like this and "posting a win" is going to be pretty difficult.

So why keep digging your own grave? Why not just accept the fact that today is not your day, turn the poker off and go get some fresh air or do something different?

I think it is very important especially for newer or struggling players to set a stop loss. A stop loss means that you quit for the day no matter what when you lose a certain amount of buyins. And I recommend a stop loss of 5 buyins.

Because often those buyins that you lose after 5 (6-10) are very much tilt induced. This is the kind of stuff that truly kills your winrate in the long run. One of the best kept secrets about the game of poker is that losing the least is often the real key to success.

If you can prevent yourself from tossing away buyins when you are on tilt it will make an enormous difference to your bottom line. Do yourself a favor and start implementing a stop loss and your winrate will improve tremendously.


Final Thoughts


I hope that a few of the tips mentioned above will provide a healthy boost to your profits at the micros. Try them out for yourself and let me know how they work for you!

Furthermore, let me know in the comments below what tips and tricks have helped increase your winrate the most at the micros.

Lastly, make sure to check out my "Start Here" page for all of my top strategy articles on crushing the micros.

If you found this article helpful, please "Like" or "Tweet" it below.

5 "five minute or less" poker tips for the micros

18 comments:

  1. Depending on the bankroll I don't do 5 buyin stop loss. I am more conservative. Say I have 100$. I am multitabling 2c/5c 6 table. I will put my stop loss at say 6$ 6% of my TOTAL bankroll is better than 30% if I understand you correctly. In my current games I have even a smaller stop loss.

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    1. Hey weiyen,

      By "buyin" I mean 100 big blinds. And I recommend having 30 or 40 buyins at the micros especially for newer or struggling players. So therefore with a 5 buyin stop loss a player should never lose more than about 15% of their total bankroll in a single session.

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  2. Thx for these helpful articles. I know it's titled crushing micros but I play up to NL100 on WSOP.com and it's very applicable for higher stakes as well as bigger live games too. The stop loss portion really speaks to me as I look at my session logs it's like all green down the line but some of the Reds have like 5-8 buy in losing days. It kills my BR and results. Then snowballs on my confidence, happiness, and so on. I'll try to implement this with more discipline. Thx very much. God bless.

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    1. Thank you Edward. I am glad that my book and articles are helpful for you!

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  3. Hey thanks for all these good article that helped me improve my winrate!After a lot of study and play I have 2bb/100 in 170.000 hands in 5nl but this month I tried to play little 2nl and in 20.000 hands i have -10 bb/100, I think that it's too bad and I wonder if I should change my game to this level?or it's just a small sample until now and I should play more? It hits my ego you know and I want to have a positive winrate also in this level before I play again in 5nl.thank you again man and keep doing this great job

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    1. Hi Xristos,

      I am glad that my articles have helped you. I am not sure that I understand your comment though. Did you mean that you took a shot at NL10 or NL2? You are doing fine at NL5, you should be looking to move up, not down.

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  4. HAHAHAHA! 5 Buy in stop loss! I decided 4 for me. Is two month that I’m running bad and regarding last point of your list “When you finally make a hand, they have a better one”… Two days ago with KK on the most dry flop of the universe K 9 3 we go all in (150x) turn J river J and he shows JJ :D. I closed all tables and went to run. :D:D:D. Beside the funny story (ok now I can laugh on it but in that moment…), what I mean is that I was down of 1 buy in and I did not wait to arrive at -4 buy in.

    Anyway good article! Thx

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    1. I would leave after a beat like that too. 1/1000 stuff like that will mess with your head. Glad you enjoyed the article!

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  5. Personally I use 3 buy-in as a stop loss, although it's tough when you hit 3 coolers in a row on your first couple of hands and your volume suffer from it because you needed to quit the session for the sake of your sanity. Then again it's better to have low volume than big losses right? I have no real issue playing shorthanded (just focus on playing my standard game) so will try to get into more of those situations and let you know how it went. Great article! Take care!

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    1. Thanks Jorge! Ya, I think that if you know that tilt is an issue for you then a stop loss of 3 is fine also. To be honest sometimes when I am in a bad downswing this is all it takes to set me off and I quit as well.

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  6. Hey Nathan very good article, I´ve been reading you a lot, keep on posting this articles, they are very helpful, and in my case, motivational. I play in a site that do not support HUDS and I want your advice. I think I am doing fine, I don´t know how to measure profit but I went from $50 to $500 in 2 months (avg. 4-5 hrs. 5 days a week). Do you recommend me to take a shot at stars or party poker (with a HUD, I think in party its for free). I will study how to use it with your articles. Or should I stay in the same site? The thing is that in this site the field is too short, 4-6 tables open during the week during a 5 hr. period time, and 6-10 tables in weekends. Some times it narrows a lot and its frustrating. So as you see "no table selection" in my case, I am not th best player, but I can say more than half players at my limits are bad.

    I´ll be glad to hear your advice, and keep on posting, greetings from Mexico.

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    1. Hi Ruben,

      I would probably just stay where you are since you are winning and you say that there are plenty of bad players. The thing is, moving to a site that allows HUDs isn't really going to change anything for you because everybody else can use a HUD also. You could also just stay on your current site and put a little bit of money on Party or Stars and just give them a try.

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  7. Since poker is really one long game I count my 5 lost buy ins as any part of a session, like in 10NL if I'm up +$18 when my net is -$32 that's my stop loss. If I just go by -5 buy ins I could potentially lose 10 or more buy ins which would be devastating Example: going from +5 to -5 = 10 lost buy ins in a single session.

    I got this from Annie Duke and say what you want, she's a good poker player

    Like everything in poker though it depends. If I'm making good decisions and getting coolered by a table full of idiots and I think I can make some adjustments I'll wait it out until I hit my time limit. If I'm getting coolered by regs I'll usually quit. I can also sit out for 5 minutes and review a losing hands to see what's what.

    Nathan, I appreciate what you're doing here and your blog has helped my game a lot.

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    1. Thanks Jim, glad my blog is helping you!

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  8. About that #3, I'm confused, you always advise to play FR but now you advise to play short handed on FR tables, which from personal experience basically never happens since tables fill up crazy fast, I play on stars and only during prime time hours tough.

    Then why not not play both 6max and FR? Because lately I've been practicing hardcore table selection, I will not seat at a table if there isn't a fish directly to my right and adding the 6max tables would probably help finding them.

    Currently taking a shot at nl5 after "graduating" from nl2, variance is striking hard but it's fine, better go trough it now than when I reach higher stakes right? :P

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    1. Hi Thomas,

      I don't advise people to play anything. I think full ring might be a bit of an easier adjustment for complete beginners.

      But as I discuss in this article. I think you should play the format that you enjoy the most. That might even be heads up or something totally different like MTTs.

      Short-handed full ring tables do not always fill up fast in my experience. And if they do, well as long as the fish are still at the table, then I will continue to play and just adjust my ranges.

      I personally play both full ring and 6max for maximum table selection and I do advise this as well when you move up. I don't think it is too big of a factor at the lower stakes though because this is where most people play and there are a ton of tables for both fr and 6max.

      Sorry to hear about your troubles moving up. The jump from NL2 is not always easy and variance can certainly get in the way. You might want to check out this article of mine where I talk specifically about moving up from NL2 to NL5 :)

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    2. I had all the answers right there, thanks for taking the time to answer anyway.

      Great articles btw, as always.

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