This weekend I meet with some friend who is still struggling to move up from micro stakes. He is still starting to play more seriously now, and so, he comes to me sometimes to get some advice. I happily start to talk about what I’ve learn during my short experience in Poker. So this post will be about the biggest diferences between stakes I’ve found in my way up from shorthanded NL2 to NL100.
First of all I really think that if you want to succeed in cash games you should play every level and move up slowly making sure you’re a wining player bofore you move up to the level above.
Starting from NL2 – NL6, this is the base of all cash game poker, and although it’s a bit boring play such small stakes I think playing this levels is very good to get some discipline and to start to control yourself tilt related! =) Belive me, some crazy shit will happen when you play NL2!
I think that some very basic strategy is enough to play this first stakes:
- Play tight and avoid bluffing: Play good cards, raise big (6/7 BB sometimes gets two callers!!) with big pairs and big suited connectors and most of the time you’ll be dominating your opponents. CBet most of the boards, but unless you hit the board with a solid hand or a very good draw don’t waist your money barreling turn and river because no one will fold a pair;
- Fast play your monsters and NEVER SLOWPLAY: Top pair and Overpair hands can be fast played in this levels, also sets are a good way to get lots of money in the pot (just be carefull and play small pots pre flop with small and medium pairs). Don’t be afraid to “Pot-pot-All in” your opponents, if they fold in early round is just because they were really weak.
- Don’t overthink: Sometimes I was thinking too much about my opponets hands and what I was representing with my bets and so on… Micro stakes just don’t have metagame involved. Play your cards, thing about you opponents cards (or range of hands) play accordingly and it’s enough!
- Avoid playing OOP (out of position): there are some crazy guys in this levels and because you’re not very experienced (otherwise you’ll be playing higher stakes) it will be very dificult for you to decide in some OOP spots. Only open raise top range UTG and UGT+1 and defend your blinds with a tight range too. Don’t worry about being tight because you will capitalize a lot on the others mistakes!
- Steal the blinds when folded to you on CO or BTN: Most of the time you’ll get called by one of the blinds (3bet is less common in this levels, because every one wants to see a flop), but they are playing “fit or fold” (if they hit they continue, if they miss they just fold most of the time), and that means your Cbet will have a big % of success;
- Don’t tilt: is not worth it, the money is no that much and they are simply worst players than you! Keep it cool 😉
Going on to NL10 to NL30, the games change a bit. There are less multiway pots and less limping, ther is a lot more of blind stealing and 3beting but the players are still fairly weak and easy to beat. This is the time to start using Holdem Manager (HM), to refine your basic strategy and start to adapt more to your opponents. To beat this levels you’ll need to work a bit hard, but is still fairly easy to get some money:
- Keep a good bankroll managment: as you move up in stakes the variance gets bigger, so you need to be carefull about your money or you’ll have no way to work;
- Refine your HUD and study HM tools so you can take fully advantage of the software:this is one of the best ways to get better at adapting to your new opponents and to know their game. Review hands and you’ll get aware of your strengths and weaknesses and your opponents’s too;
- Keep some notes about the regulars and mark all the fishes you can!
- Start to range merge: this is the only way you’ll be able to have a good read on your opponents and to beat them constantly (when you know “what they have” you can decide better!);
- A litle bit of metagame is not bad idea: if you can always thing one level further than your opponents you’ll be always ahead. Most of the times players in this stakes think about their hands (0 level) and in some way they think about your possible holdings (1st level), so, if you can think about their hand range and also about what they think about your hand (2nd level) you can act better!
Besides all of this, in every level is important to always try to improve. Trough books, articles, videos, coaching, whatever…, but just don’t stop working!
I’m nowadays playing NL50 and Nl100 (mostly this one), but I still need to improve my game a bit to move up to NL200. Maybe when I get there I’ll be confident enough to write some tips about how to beat NL50 and NL100! 😉