Transitioning Micro-Stakes Guide

Ok so I have not been the most active poster here on CC especially recently and, to be honest, none of my posts really have been poker related. Why? Well that’s a long story that’s not really relevant so we’ll just say it had to do with attitudes. But I feel that I have gathered knowledge in my years of playing and studying poker and feel that I owe something to CC so thought I would share. First, a little about information about me. I’m 19 years old, been playing poker for about 4 years but only seriously about 2. Climbed the cash game ranks super fast after a initial $40 deposit and ended up beating 50NL 6-max/FR for about a 6ptBB/100 winrate over 55k hands. Never put in much volume as I had/have so much going on in my life but always loved thinking about poker. Currently, I haven’t played a hand of poker for over 2 months ( trying to get in medical school takes good marks and I’d much rather spend free time with my girlfriend rather than grinding hands) but still feel like I have tons of knowledge that can help some Micro grinders transition to higher stakes. Before I start, one word of wisdom: The best poker players are the ones who are able to

think the most logically! Learning why you make a move is more important than making the move itself!
For proof of this look no further than FP, Belgo etc. Ok so on to the guide, we are going to assume 6-max. I will talk about adjustments for Full ring later on.

Pre-flop: Setting Everything Up
***Poker is dynamic and thus you want your pre-flop game to coordinate with your post-flop game*** What does the above statement mean? Well basically it means that you should pick hands that play well post-flop. This means hands like suited connectors, suited one-gappers, Ax suited, etc, all have WAYYY more value pre-flop than say K2o or Q3o!!! I don’t care if you tell me that K2o will win more often than 86s, the simple fact is that money is won and lost on the flop, turn and river and playing hands that coordinate well with flops is really going to make things easier for you down the road. Example: (Disclaimer: Not concerned with bet-sizing or HA just trying to make a point. We are sitting on the cutoff with 100bb effective stacks at 25NL 6-max game. It’s folded to us and we raise 4bb’s and get called by the BB who is a decent Reg. Flop comes: Kh 7h 4c Pot: 9bb’s Villain checks. First Scenario: We have not followed my advice and raised K3o. We flopped top pair great! We bet 7bb’s but get check-raised to 27bb’s. Now what? We are in a shitty spot! Villain is a competent Reg and knows we are C-Betting a wide range here and probably will have a decent amount of bluffs in his

range. Raising is terrible because we fold out all his bluffs and get it in vs. a range that crushes us. We could call, but this isn’t a great option either as it will just leave us with more tough decisions later. Folding seems weak but probably is what we have to do. Second Scenario: We have listened to my advice and hold 86h. We flopped a flush draw with a gut shot straight draw. Again we decide to bet 7bb’s and again get check-raised to 27bb’s but this time our decisions are so much easier! In this spot, it’s really hard to make a big mistake. Our decision is between calling or jamming, both which are probably +EV. (I probably jam but the decision would involve weighing pro’s and con’s of both) Because we picked a starting hand that plays well post-flop, our decision as to how to play the hand is much simpler, which allows us to make fewer and less costly mistakes. So the above example was intended to illustrate why I our pre-flop strategy should revolve around playing hands that play well post-flop. With this in mind let’s develop some general ranges: (These ranges should just be looked at as general guidelines and should be adjusted to suit your own style and fit your game) UTG: Under the gun will be where our range is the tightest for obvious reasons. First off, NEVER LIMP! With that said I recommend the following range: 22+, A2s-AKs, AKo, AQo, JTs-KQs

Now it should be easy for you to understand why I picked these hands. All of them play very well postflop (argument can be made against low pocket pairs) and all can make big nut-type hands. If I was removing hands from this range I would probably remove A6s-A9s and the lowest pocket pairs. UTG+1: In this position we open all the hands above, and also add in suited connecters and some suited one-gappers. So our opening range looks something like: +, A2s-AKs, AJo-AKo, 45s-KQs, Q10s, KJs

Now as for calling UTG opens, your range should be fairly tight, probably just your top hands adjusted to opponent etc. As a general rule your calling range should be quite a bit tighter than your raising range! This applies for ALL positions. CO: In the cut-off we open our range up to include more suited one-gappers, off-suit connector type hands and off-suit aces. Our opening range would look something like: 22+, A2s-AKs, A2o-AKo, 23s-KQs, 75s-KJs, 54o-KQo, KJo

BTN: This is where our range will be the widest! We will want to open all playable hands. Our opening range would be something like: 22+, A2s-AKs, A2o-AKo, 23s-KQs, 53s-KJs, 54o-KQo, 75o-KJo, and any other hands such as Q9s, K10s, etc.

Our calling range can still be fairly wide as we have position, and I will discuss 3-Betting later. The Blinds: In the blinds your range for calling should be fairly tight. You don’t want to play many hands OOP so besides good opportunities for 3Bets, which will be discussed soon, you only really want to be playing your really strong hands.

The 3-Bet Game: Where boys become Men!
Ok so now we have a general ground work laid, it’s time to build on what hopes to be one of your biggest weapons...a solid 3-Bet game! First off, I believe one of the biggest differences between break-even Regs and good Regs is a solid 3-Bet game. (Yes I know hand-reading and other stuff is more important, but for micro’s a good 3-Bet game will take you a long way!) A person who is 3-Betting only their premium hands is very easy to play against but so is someone who is 3-Betting like a monkey... so the key is to find the right balance! To start this off, I will give credit to BobbosFitos as alot of what I’m about to say is advice from him. I have adapted it to fit my game and but the basic principles came from him. So the first thing we are going to do is separate our 3-Betting range into two categories: 1. Nut Hands 2. Air 1. Nut Hands: Quite simply, these are the hands that we are comfortably stacking pre-flop. Which hands are nut hands will vary according to the player and his tendencies. 2. Air: This will be the bluffing part of your 3-Bet range. These are hands you would not be comfortable stacking pre-flop. Ok so you may ask why I separated our 3-Betting range into these 2 categories? Well the answer is simple! The 3-Betting plan I’m about to tell you is based off of a ratio of Air to Nut hands! For example if I want an Air : Nut ratio of 2 and my range of nut hands I’m 3-Betting in a given position is the top 3% of all hands, then I want to pick 6% of hands to 3-Bet as Air. The thing about this ratio is that we are going to vary it according to how wide of range the initial raiser has and our position at the table. Also the amount of Nut hands in our range may change as well based on the opponent. (Ex. Against a nit our Nut hands may only constitute KK+, while against a crazy LAG our Nut range might be JJ+, AK etc.) This sounds complicated at first but hopefully I’ll be able to clear it up! So when we are at a table we need to be constantly thinking about our opponents ranges. This is vital to my plan for 3-Betting as the Air : Nut ratio depends on how tight or wide we perceive villains raising range to be in a given position. This can hopefully be better explained in the graph below:

Tight

Villains Range

Wide Low Air : Nut Ratio High

As you can see, when villain is raising a tight range our Air : Nut ratio is low while when he is raising a wide range, our ratio is much higher! This fact is crucial to understand! The main reason for the difference is that when villain has a tighter range, our bluffs are going to be much less successful as much of his range isn’t folding. As villain’s range gets wider, it gets weaker on average which leads to more opportunities for 3-Betting our “Air” hands. While villain’s range is probably our most important consideration in determining what kind of ratio we should employ, we need to consider another factor...POSITION! As you all have probably heard, position in poker is sooo important! For this reason, we will be able to 3-Bet a bigger Air : Nut ratio in position (Ex. On the Button) as opposed to OOP. The logic behind this deals with the fact that when our bluffs are called, being in position gives us a much better opportunity at picking up the pot post-flop. But this new factor gives us a dilemma...What kind of ratio do we employ when we are in the blinds facing a button or CO raise? We’ll get to this later but by now you should have enough knowledge to figure that one out! Ok so now we have an understanding on how our ratio is going to change based on villains range and our position, but we need a starting point for this ratio! Our starting point is going to be a minimum of a 1 : 1 ratio! An example on when we would employ this ratio would be: 25 NL 6-Max: A standard Reg opens UTG for 4bb’s (100bb’s effective stacks) we are sitting UTG+1. In this scenario, villains range is going to be at its tightest and our position isn’t great so we will employ a 1 : 1 ratio. If we feel comfortable stacking QQ+ AK (Our Nut hands) we should be 3-Betting an air range that constitutes roughly the same number of hands. The hands I would 3-Bet would be probably something like:

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A2s-A5s, 87s-JTs, QQ+, AK

These are usually my favourite hands to 3-Bet as air. There is always much debate as to which hands are best to 3-Bet bluff with and the best thing for you to do is examine the pro’s and con’s of 3-Betting various hands to determine what range you believe is best. The reason I like these hands best stems from the fact that they all have decent equity vs. a range villains typically call 3-Bets with and can coordinate with alot of boards giving us enough post-flop equity to make some moves in 3-Bet pots. Ok so now we have a starting point to play off of, let’s say that now that same villain is now UTG+1 and we are sitting in the CO. Now villains range is slightly wider and we are in better position so we will decide to increase our ratio to 2 : 1! We wil assume our Nut hands have remain unchanged and are still QQ+ AK and now will 3-Bet a range something like: A2s-A9s, 76s-QJs, 75s-97s, QQ+, AK

Let’s take this one step further, now villain is opens from the CO and we are on the button. Now villains range is quite wide and we are in the best position. This will be when our ratio is its biggest! I usually employ about a 3 : 1 ratio and depending on villain might increase the amount of hands included in the Nut category. Our 3-Bet range might look something like: A2s-A9s, 45s-QJs, 64s-J9s, some Kxs, A2o-A5o, JJ+, AK

So now we arrive back to the dilemma I posed a little earlier...What about the blinds facing a steal attempt? Well for starters, when we face a button or CO raise, villain will usually have a very wide range. But in the blinds we will be OOP if called. So what do we do? Well I recommend having about a 2 : 1 ratio facing a steal. The reason I come up with this number is that while we are facing a very wide range, we can’t be 3-Betting as much because of our positional disadvantage. So our range would be about the same as the 2nd range I provided. Now with all that being said, these ranges are suited for a villain who reacts fairly standard to 3-Bets. (Folds around 70-80%) For opponents who just don’t like folding, we have to adjust the range we 3-Bet. It should be obvious what adjustments we should make to someone who simply rarely folds to 3-Bets. Instead of 3-Betting hands like A2s, 87s etc. we start widening our value range by 3-Betting hands like AQ, AJ, TT, etc. Ok so I’ve had enough of using words to explain so let’s look at some examples. In all of these examples try to think which is the best option, calling, 3-Betting, or folding and try to reason why. Understanding “WHY” is the most important part. Example 1: 25NL 6-Max 100bb effective stacks UTG, a semi-solid regular who play about a 19/17 game and folds to 3-Bets about 80%, raises 4bb’s. We are sitting UTG+1 with 87s. Our move? Ok so in this position UTG range is fairly tight but still contains a lot of things that he will fold to a 3-Bet. We still probably will only have a 1 : 1 ratio in

this position but 87s is a hand that I probably would use in my “Air” range. I probably 3-Bet this to 13-14 bb’s, obviously fold if 4-Bet, and play post-flop if called. Example 2: 25 NL 6-Max 100bb effective stacks This time CO, who is the big fish at the table, raises 3bb’s and we sit on the BTN with A2s. Our Move? Well from what I’ve told you A2s is a great hand to 3-Bet and on the button vs. a CO raise should be where our ratio is largest so you would think we probably should 3-Bet....WRONG! 3-Betting here is not good against this opponent as he probably isn’t folding much either pre-flop or post-flop. When in situations like these we want to start widening our 3-Bet value range to include hands like AQ, AJ, JJ, TT etc. while narrowing our bluffing range. In this scenario, calling would be by far the best play.

Example 3: 25 NL 6-Max 100bb effective stacks Now CO, pretty standard Reg, raises 4bb’s and is called by BTN, who is slightly nitty type Reg. Both seem to fold reasonably well to 3-Bets. We are in the BB with 86s. Our move? Ok so we have an interesting spot here. We are OOP so we have to be a little more careful when we are 3-Betting but we still know we are facing a fairly wide range from CO. When BTN calls we can usually rule out the really strong part of his range as he usually would have 3-Bet. With the extra dead money in the pot from BTN calling, this is a pretty easy 3-Bet (Also known as a squeeze) but I probably make it 18-20bb’s.

*A general word of advice is that your 3-Bets should be larger OOP and also be bigger proportional to the number of callers. Example 4: 25NL 6-Max 100b effective stacks In this hand BTN who is a decent Reg raises to 4bb’s and we are in the BB with AQ. BTN reacts to 3-Bets in a standard fashion. Our Move? In this situation many people would probably say to 3-Bet. In my opinion it’s much better to just call. Here’s the reason: When we 3-Bet against this particular player we are going to fold out all the hands we crush (AT, AJ, etc.) and keep in the hands that crush us. Even though we are OOP we should be much more inclined to call as we stand to make a good sum of money from the times where we flop TP and out kicker them. If our hand was say 76s, I’d be much more inclined to 3-Bet.

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What about when we are 4-Bet? My best advice to you is to not out level yourself, that is do not think that your opponent is thinking on a higher level than he actually is. Usually when someone 4-Bets at micro stakes they tend to have it. Even if you’ve been 3-Betting like mad and you think they caught on and are making a move, most likely they just have a really good hand. Since you won’t really face many really good players that will be 4-Bet bluffing you, I think I’ll skip over that part of the game and leave you with this tip: *When someone 4-Bets you at micros the assumption that they have QQ+, AK is never going to be that far off. Don’t get fancy and just fold if you were caught. What about 4-Betting ourselves? Again the same thing applies as above...You really don’t need to 4-Bet bluff at micros since no one really has a strong 3-Bet game. Just 4-Bet the hands that you are willing to stack pre-flop and you will be fine! Ok so that pretty much covers more than you need to know about the pre-flop game in order for you to be successful! It’s time to delve into post-flop play!

Post-Flop: What Separates Men from Men with Lots of Cash
Ok so now that we have a solid pre-flop game, which is designed to hopefully make our life a little easier post-flop, we can start looking at post-flop. I’m not going to go into great detail into many scenarios as there are just too many different things that can happen! What I want to do is to try and show you how should be thinking about the game which will hopefully allow you to make the best decisions possible and fly up the stakes! As I said earlier:

The best poker players are the ones who are able to think the most logically! Learning why you make a move is more important than making the move itself!
So what do I mean when I say think logically? Well I simply mean that the best poker players are really just people that use logical reasoning when they play poker. They use knowledge about their opponents ranges, tendencies, etc, and then decide which the best way to attack them is by weighing pro’s and con’s of the various possibilities. For example, If someone asks you whether you want to come to a party tonight even though you have an exam tomorrow, you would go through a decision making process. This would involve objectively looking at the pros and cons of both studying and going to the party and then deciding which one is more “+EV"! This is exactly the same thing you should do when you are deciding which play you make in poker. Here’s an example hand to hopefully illustrate what I mean: Example: 25 NL 6-Max 100bb effective stacks

CO, who is a decent Reg but probably CBets too much, raises to 4bb’s, folded around to you in the SB and you call with AQh. Flop comes: Kh Js 2h The action is on us. What should we do? This is a great example of a hand where we are faced with various options. We could just lead out and take the Bet/3Bet line (As we are not going to fold such a strong draw). We could also go for the Check/Raise line. Or we could Check/Call. How do we decide what to do? We weigh the pros and cons of each! Bet/3Bet: Well the first thing that comes to mind with this line is the fact that we don’t give an aggressive CBetter the chance to CBet. This is a huge negative in my book as we lose value from all the times he’s going to bluff. For this reason I probably don’t pick this line. Check/Call: The thing that comes to mind about this line is that it minimizes our risk. Although I personally hate this line with our hand because we don’t take advantage of fold equity that we have given our opponents fairly wide and weak range. Check/Raise: The first thing that immediately comes to mind is the fact that by allowing our opponent the opportunity to CBet we gain a possible extra bet! We have enough pot equity that we don’t mind getting all the money in if we get re-raised and we gain a lot of value when our opponent folds his one pair hands. This seems like the best option!

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The above example shows the kind of reasoning that you should go through on each decision. With time it will become second nature but it’s important to keep in mind that you should always have a reason for making a play. That’s my best advice I can give you about post-flop play...Have a reason for everything you do! Hopefully this guide will help some of you struggling grinders move up the stakes and start crushing 2550 NL games! If the interest is good, I might delve further into post-flop but for now I think this is more than enough to help!