Starting Right: Preflop
In Texas hold’em there are four streets of betting. There is a preflop, flop, turn, and river where players each have an opportunity to bet. Preflop is the first of all of these. Preflop each player has their two face down hole cards and can then take any action they choose. There are forced antes of the small blind and big blind that must be called in order to continue in the hand. This is where a lot of your easier decision making is going to come from.
Since you are playing at the micro limits it is very important that you play extremely tight. You tend to see a lot more variance at the micro limits. This is because the weaker players are calling down lighter than players of your skill level or better. This means you are going to see times that your top pair top kicker hand lose to them more often.
It is a key to your success at beating the micro limits that you play very tight. It would seem that since there are weaker players you would be able to play more hands and win, but this isn’t true. Since players are calling bets and raises with such a large variety of hands you are going to see your good hands still lose a lot more often than you will at the higher stakes. You can play against some of these weak players at Cake Poker…
Since the whole field of poker has been overrun by players who see poker on TV and think they can bluff big and win it is appropriate to play tight. Since the majority of players are so loose it is easy to just wait for good hands and let the loose players try to bluff you or set their self up. You should be playing about 18% of your hands and betting or raising with about 15% of them. The earlier the position you are in the tighter you should play.
Loosen up in Position
Poker is a game of information and it is important that you take in as much information as you can so that you can act accordingly. When you are in position against someone you have a huge advantage against them. They have to act before you do and you are given that extra information before you have to decide what your play is going to be there.
You are also playing a lot tighter in early position so loosening up when you are close to or on the button makes up for that lack of hands that you are putting in. Another great thing about loosening up when in position is there are less people you have to make fold in order to steal the blinds. If the only players left in the hand are you on the button and the small and big blind then you should be trying to steal with some nonpremium hands.
One of the best ways to make money preflop is to steal the blinds. When you are playing poker you want to aim for 5 big bets per 100 hands. If you steal the blinds a couple of times then you are reasonably close to achieving your 5 big bets per 100 hands.
You have to make sure that you don’t have a calling station in the blinds when you are loosening up on the button. If these players are calling you down beyond the flop more often than not then it is no longer profitable to try and steal. When you notice the players in the blinds are tight then you should be loosening up even more when you are on the button. These players are just looking to give their blinds to you. If they ever show you opposition you must fold and leave the hand alone right away. Your goal with your weaker hand is to steal the blinds, not bluff a rock type player.
Knowing when to let go of a hand is important. This is even more important in the terms of stealing blinds. You must realize you are playing lower quality hands because more often than not you can take the pot down by betting preflop. If you try to make these hands do anymore than that you are going to lose a lot of money in the long run.
Aggression is really what determines how much money you make. If you are a passive player then you are calling a lot and only winning or losing the money that your opponent bets to build the pot. Being aggressive means that you are the one that is betting and raising to build the pot.
As I said before you are to be playing 18% of your hands and raising or betting with 15% of them. The majority of the times that you are in a hand you are going to be the aggressor. This is because it gives you more of an edge against your opponent because you now have the ability to simply make them fold to win the pot. Stealing the blinds is a direct example of playing aggressively as well. When you see that an opponent is willing to give up even a few blinds to you make sure that you take them.
Only about 3% of the hands that you are going to be in will you flat call. This is mainly made up of small to medium pocket pairs. Your whole goal with this hand is to flop a hidden three of a kind and get it all in against your opponent’s top pair top kicker type of hand.