November 15, 2009

Key to success at micros: part 2

I spoke about the importance at microstakes of winning the maximum from your strong hands by value betting (discussed in part 1 here), but the other essential thing for a winning player at 100nl and below is losing the minimum with your second best (yet still strong) hands. Of course these concepts are relevant at all stakes, but simply being aware of these 2 ideas alone will shoot up your winrate massively, even if you ignore everything else, at microstakes.

Of course we are talking about reading the board texture v your opponents range when facing a raise with our premium pair/TPTK type holding on a wet flop, and that has been discussed to death elsewhere. Instead I would discuss situations where getting it all in when you have the nuts, or near to it, would hold little value as you simply fold out hands that you crush. But when you have a very very strong yet non nut hand when facing action, yes you are going to lose some money sometimes, it's inevitable, but hand reading and common sense can at least save you losing your whole stack.

As usual an example to discuss: Villain is 18/14 straightforward tagnit with unbernit tendencies.
$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 6 Players
Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details

UTG: $100 (100 bb)
MP: $109.90 (109.9 bb)
Hero (CO): $100 (100 bb)
BTN: $36.10 (36.1 bb)
SB: $100 (100 bb)
BB: $194.30 (194.3 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is CO with J of clubs T of clubs
UTG folds, MP raises to $3.50, Hero calls $3.50, 3 folds
Silly to 3bet here, as the only hands that call have me beat, as do those that 4bet. His range is skewed toward AK AQ and big pairs, which JTs does well against.

Flop: ($8.50) Q of hearts 2 of clubs 9 of diamonds (2 players)
MP bets $6.50, Hero calls $6.50
We flop the draw. Based on his range, he could have TPTK, air (with AK) or a set. If a K flops and he has AK we are stacking him, with his ubernit tendencies. So I figure I have the odds to call.

Turn: ($21.50) 8 of hearts (2 players)
MP bets $14, Hero calls $14
We hit, and he keeps betting. Here is where we really need to re-examine what he could actually have here. Figures to be a combo draw with the FD, one of the other JT hands, or even naked AQ. A raise here on the turn would be correct, except this type of player stacks off lightly I think. So as he is likely to fire a final barrel, he will have to call my min raise on the river.

River: ($49.50) 2 of hearts (2 players)
MP bets $42, Hero calls $42
And here is where the point of the post really kicks in. A bad river card and a big bet from him looks like its either a set filled up or a flush. So our raising the river turns into a call.

Results: $133.50 pot ($3 rake)
Final Board: Q of hearts 2 of clubs 9 of diamonds 8 of hearts 2 of hearts
MP showed J of hearts T of hearts (a flush, Queen high) and won $130.50 ($64.50 net)
Hero mucked J of clubs T of clubs (a straight, Eight to Queen) and lost (-$66 net)

Although he had the same hand as me, I saved myself 30bb by not shoving the nuts (folding out his weaker hands and losing value) on the flop, instead with a view to getting it all in by the river, based on his betting patterns. When the unlikely flush/fullhouse card came, if we raise on the river, we only get called by hands that beat us, so we call, and lose the minimum. You can see by his stupid river bet that he was definitely going broke, had I had a set which had filled up, which was entirely possible. I should also consider a fold here, but I think it was more than 30% likely that he could have just an overpair.TP hand. I agree that a fold should be argued here and I could have found it. My real excuse was that I only noticed the backdoor flush card, and not the board pairing as well, A truly terrible card.

Finally, I would not have played a set like this. I would certainly have raised his flop cont bet to get the money in as an 75% favourite v his range, as I am more vulnerable and there are more scare cards for him too on such a wet board with 2 cards to come.


  1. yeah, good post. i think losing less with second best hands is more important than extracting value.
    playing your sets and draws differently is fine at this level but you often don't want to do that when you move up. (even though metagame is totally overrated, you'll become too easy to play against vs anyone who pays attention)

  2. Bankroll Builder,

    Very good work on your "key to success at microstakes" posts, keep it up! I recently started a blog about poker and planning a move to Vegas:

    Any input or advice would be much appreciated, I also linked your site under my favorites on the front page.


  3. I love to post but I didn't get "His range is skewed toward AK AQ and big pairs, which JTs does well against."

    Could you explain this so I can understand.

    A dedicated reader of Bankroll Builder.