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Micro Stakes Limit Discussions of micro stakes limit Texas Hold'em

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Old 02-02-2005, 06:45 PM   #1
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MicroStakes LIMIT (not NL) Guidelines/FAQ v1.0

Microlimit Guidelines/FAQ v1.0

Welcome to 2+2's Texas Holdem Micro Limit Forum. This guide's purpose is to provide newcomers with an introduction of what to expect in this forum as well as to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. If you are unsure whether this forum is the right place for you, take a look at the 2+2 forum list and read the descriptions. If you are looking for general help on how best to navigate 2+2, try the Beginner's Forum or the Internet Gambling Forum's FAQ.

This guide is focused on micro limit Texas Hold'em and is broken down into four sections:

1. Posting guidelines and etiquette.
2. Frequently Asked Questions (bankroll management, game selection, acronyms etc).
3. Stats. What are they and how can you use them.
4. Miscellaneous information and resources (odds charts, favorite posts, etc).

Please take the time to understand the materials here to allow the micro forum to maintain more interesting and focused content.


1. Posting guidelines and etiquette.
The micro limit forum is meant for the discussion of micro limit Texas Holdem and issues that are relevant to beginning and microlimit players. Some topics may seem like a micro limit question, but may actually be best asked in one of the other forums on this site, such as Probability, Internet Gambling, etc. Micro limits refer to Holdem limit games with stakes less than $2/$4, but this forum also functions as a de facto Limit Hold'em beginner forum.

Before posting, you are strongly encouraged to fully explore the search function. If you have a general question, it likely has been asked and answered already. The majority of posts in this forum are hand posts, where the poster had questions about their play in a specific hand.

By lurking for a bit, you'll quickly observe the common structure of a hand post. A quick summary is to:
  • be readable: Make use of a hand converter when possible. If you're having trouble getting a converter to work, that is not an excuse to post a raw hand history. Instead, type out something by hand that resembles a converted hand, even if you don't get all the colors and such the same. Always preview your posts to make sure they look as they should before hitting the final "post" button. It is also recommended that you post only 1 hand per topic.
  • provide context: Recreate the hand by providing all relevant information (reads, pot size, action, your thoughts, etc) you had at the time. Often this means you should stop the action at your decision point. Since you did not know what would happen after your decision, neither should anyone else.
  • be unbiased: If you ask "When should I have folded this hand?", you'll probably get biased responses since you have revealed that you probably lost the hand. The results generally do not matter and should not be provided in the first post. If you played the hand correctly, the results will eventually take care of themselves. In general, never post the results of the hand, and don't let the results affect what you're taught about how to analyze and play the hand. Occasionally, the forum may ask for them out of curiosity, but don't post the outcome unless prompted.
Informal rules of this forum try to limit the number of hand posts by a user at one time, often at two. By posting more than than two topics at once, you are pushing other posters' topics off of the first page. We also try to encourage posters to respond to more hands than they start. See the note about "Grunching" below. If you are posting a topic with low content, perhaps showing off your first royal flush or expressing frustration about a recent string of bad luck, this sort of post belongs in the Beats, Brags, and Variance (BBV) forum or this forum's current Designated No Content Thread. We try and keep the strategic content of this forum high, so please take non-strategy posts there. For more on hand post content and posting etiquette, please refer to the Small Stakes forum's Posting Guidelines (section four at the time of this writing).


2. Frequently Asked Questions.
What are the abbreviations for the player seats?
In a 10 player game, you play against UTG, UTG+1, UTG+2, MP1, MP2, MP3, CO, Button, SB, and BB. UTG is under the gun, the first to act preflop.. MP stands for middle position. EMP refers to early middle position (MP1 in this 10 handed example) and LMP refers to late middle position (MP3 in this 10 handed example). Occasionally, MP3 is also referred to as the Hijack, or HJ. The CO is the "cut-off" and acts just before the button. SB and BB are the small and big blinds respectively. The UTG through UTG+2 seats are also referred to as early position (EP) while CO and Button (sometimes called BT) are in late position (rarely noted as LP.. not to be confused with loose-passive).

What is an appropriate bankroll for the stake X/Y?
Poker is not a game of predictable expectations. A winning player will have their losing days, weeks, and sometimes months. Your bankroll must be sufficiently large to survive these wild rides. A bankroll of 300 Big Bets is the standard recommendation. If you are playing $1/$2, you should have $600 available in your bankroll. If this bankroll cannot be replenished, then you should often have more than 300 BB's available for your current stake. You can certainly take shots at a limit with less than 300 BB's, but be prepared to drop down if you hit a downswing. If you are playing 6-max tables, you will need an even larger bankroll to survive the higher variance.

How do you pick a table?
Table selection is very important as you begin to move beyond the lower levels of the micro limits. As you move up, your opponents will take on more defined styles (loose-passive, tight-aggressive, maniac, rock, etc). In general, you want tight opponents to your left and loose opponents to your right. This allows you to gauge more accurately how many players will see the flop and lets you have position on those players who are playing the most hands. Also, your preflop (PF) raises will be more likely to buy the button and blinds. Each site provides different information on the table selection list, so you may want to peruse the Internet Gambling forum for site specific recommendations. % seeing flop and average pot size are often the most used stats as well as player specific notes.

How do I deal with all these loose players sucking out on me with terrible hands?
A common complaint is that the players are so bad that it actually prevents you from making money. New players often feel that if they could just go to a game where opponents "played more reasonable hands", "respected my raises", and "didn't chase all the way to the river" they would make more money. This whole notion (to quote SSH) is absurd. Poker is a game where you profit from the mistakes of your opponents. If your opponents make more mistakes you will make more money. Loose, passive limit Holdem games are highly profitable for this reason. It is as simple as that. Focus on winning the most money, not the most pots.

When should I move up in limits?
Microlimit "graduates" often follow a similar path. Some start at various nanolimits (.05/.10 and below) and build a bankroll large enough to handle the .25/.50 or .50/1.00 stakes. These are the first limits where it is truly worth taking your time and learning how to beat a loose-passive game. Often players stay at this level for at least 10K hands to build a baseline for their stats. Once they have fixed their largest leaks, moving up is very player dependent. In general, you can move up when you feel confident in your skills at your current level and have a bankroll suitable for the next level. There is never any shame in dropping back down to retool your game.

What is a "Grunch"/"Grunching"?
A well respected 2+2er, The Grunch, once made a post encouraging posters, particularly newer posters, to respond to an initial hand posts without reading the responses. The point of this is mainly to encourage original responses not influenced by the opinions of other (often well respected as established) posters. It also serves to create a wider variety of responses. New posters are strongly encouraged to Grunch, as it really does help them improve their game.

That being said, there's much more to learning from the forum that just posting blind responses of how you'd play a hand. One, obviously, is to come back to the thread and find out why your answer differs with the answers of others. It might be that you have some sort of important misunderstanding about a poker concept. Ask about it, and make sure you get a thorough explanation. Alternatively, you might have it right and should step up and explain your reasoning to the benefit of all. A good back and forth dialogue is what makes the best threads, not an endless string of people giving the same answer.

Additionally, while this is a great way for new posters to get their feet wet around here and to mark their posts as someone who's trying to learn rather than give answers, it may not be best as you start to get better at being able to answer hands without biasing yourself with the opinions of other posters. As you get more comfortable around here, instead try reading a hand post and think of your answer before reading any replies. Then, once you think you've worked it out, read the thread and see what the forum has to say. If they agree with what you thought was the right answer, you can skip posting your answer and move on to the next thread. If they disagree, try and understand why. Respond to the thread if you have something to add, someone to correct, or if you still need clarification.

What other terms should I know?
HU - heads-up
LA/LAG - loose aggressive
LP - loose passive
MHIG - my hand is good
MHING - my hand is no good
OESD - open-ended straight draw (example: you hold JT and the board is 982)
OOP - out of position
TA/TAG - tight aggressive
TP - tight passive
TPTK - top pair, top kicker (example: you hold AK and the board is A72)
TP2K/TP3K/etc - top pair, second/third/etc kicker (example: you hold AQ/AJ/etc and the board is A72)
UI - unimproved
WA/WB - Way Ahead/Way Behind link to post by jaxUp
##/##/## - These three numbers are stats on opponents often listed at the top of a post. The stats are VPIP/PFR/AF. See below FMI on these three stats.

Robk assembled an even more extensive list of abbreviations in a thread in the Small Stakes Short Handed forum.


3. Stats
This section will focus on discussing typical stats of a 2+2 micro limit player.

It is very important to understand that stats are sometimes cause and often effect.. effect of the cards that are dealt, effect of your table selection, and effect of your reads and opponents actions. Stats can help identify major leaks, but more often than not, if you are near the "expected" range, you will find more value in posting hands rather than wading through your stats with a fine toothed comb.

Playing many hands is very important before you begin to analyze any of the following stats. Some stats begin to converge fairly quickly (VPIP may be somewhat representative after 1000 hands) while other stats take a very long time to be meaningful (50K - 100K minimum to begin to look at your winrate). Often your style has changed by the time a stat converges to a meaningful number. If you feel as though you must post a stat post, it is strongly recommended that you have at least a 10K hand sample size. Until you reach 10K hands, your stats will often vary too much to put much weight on them. Use the following guide to track your progress and stat fluctuations relative to the typical ranges of these stats. The following ranges are provided for 10 player ring games at the micro level, but will remain fairly consistent as you move up.

VPIP: voluntarily put $ in pot (%). There is no sweet spot for this number, but the typical range is between 15 and 20. A few posters manage with sub-15 VPIP's and a few posters manage with VPIP's in the low 20's. As you move up, this number will often drop a point or two. Your VPIP will not be uniform across all positions. You should generally be tighter in EP than in LP.

PFR: preflop raise (%). The typical range is 7-10. A few posters exceed 10, but many posters begin their first 10K hands at or below 7. Some suggest that PFR should be half your VPIP, but that's an effectual coincidence and should not be your goal. If you only have a VPIP of 13 or 14, you will still often have the same PFR of 8-9 as someone with a higher VPIP. Your PFR will often be higher in LP than in EP.

VPIP from SB: typical range 25-35. This stat varies greatly by your table selection. If you typically play at passive games, you can expect this to be on the higher end. If you are in aggressive games, it will be lower. If its much lower than 25, you are missing out on a few profitable situations for the partial price. If its much higher than 35, you are probably playing too often and underestimating the difficulties of playing out of position postflop. Consult a starting hand chart for more information.

Saw flop all hands: This is an effect stat of your VPIP's and your table selection. It is often about 5% higher than your VPIP. Discussion at 2+2 primarily involves the VPIP stat rather than this one.

Steal defense: At the micro limits, this situation occurs very rarely and you will generally not have a significant sample size even after playing 20K hands. It is much better to focus on specific hands for defending situations as its often highly opponent dependent.

Attempt to steal: This situation occurs a bit more frequently than steal defense, but still it will not be too common until you hit the higher end of the micro limits. This number will often be in the mid-upper 30's, but will vary depending on your table selection and overall aggressiveness.

WSD: went to showdown. This number typical falls into the 28-32 range, but varies by your style. It is helpful in identifying potentially major leaks and too high a number often represents overly loose play on the big streets. Too low a number often represents a "fit or fold" mentality where you give up on too many profitable situations by ignoring the pot size.

WSF: won $ when saw flop. By coincidence, this number also falls into the 28-32 range. It is mostly an effect stat. If it is very high (35+) you may be running well. A number below 28 may indicate a problem with protecting your vulnerable hands or folding too many winners. Like many stats, a specific number does not indicate a specific problem, only that there may be one and you should be posting hands where you had difficult postflop decisions.

W$SD: won $ at showdown. Varies between 50-58. Below 50 often indicates that you are seeing too many showdowns while a number which is too high may indicate that you are folding too many winners. In limit Holdem, a pot is often quite large on the end, thus you often need to be quite sure that you don't have the best hand to make folding on the end correct.

FRB: folded to river bet. Varies between 40-55. This stat is pointless to analyze by itself. In combination with WSD or W$SD, it may indicate a problem of folding too much on the end (or not enough). As long as its not incredibly low or high, there are better ways to spend your time.

AF: aggression factor. This is an arbitrary number representing the relative frequency of which you are the aggressor on each street. The numbers vary greatly by your style and posting specific hands is generally better to determine if your aggressiveness is appropriate. VPIP/PFR account for your preflop aggression, so generally ignore AF - PF. Your postflop aggression will typically be around 2 - 3 on each postflop street. The flop is often higher than the turn and river, often exceeding 3.0. A micro posters overall AF (not including PF) will typically be in the 2.0 - 3.0 range. Some posters report success with overall AF's over 3, but nearly none have AF's under 2. This is not a stat worth overanalyzing unless it is woefully low or maniacally high.

when folds (%): This is not a stat worth overanalyzing as its speaks nothing of the appropriateness of your actions. Typical numbers may look something like this, but the range of "appropriate" numbers could be quite wide. (no fold: 12 _ PF: 75 _ flop: 8 _ turn: 3 _ river: 2).

check-raises: This is often in the 1% to 2% range of all possible actions. It is not worth analyzing this stat to decide if you are "check raising enough". Post hands to do that.

Win-rate: The number everyone is concerned about and the number we can do nothing about. Be happy with anything above 0 BB / 100 hands. The measure used is big bets per 100 hands. This accounts for multi-tabling and limit differences whereas $/hr gives you no real indication of success. Don't fret with something below 0 BB/100 if you have a small sample size. Variance and downswings happen and they can be quite large (200+ BB losses) and extend over a long period of time (10K+ hands). Your winrate will decrease as you move up in limits. Since its asked all the time, a 3 BB/100 winrate at .50/1.00 (online) is often regarded as great. 6 BB/100 is probably unsustainable. Once you reach 2/4 (online), 2 BB/100 is great for the long term and 4 BB/100 may be unsustainable. Also, you will be a loser from the blinds. The blind commitment is too great to overcome by solid play.

Standard Deviation / 100: This varies by your style, but 14-18 seems to be the typical range.

Summary: Remember, these stats speak nothing of the appropriateness of your actions, but primarily indicate the frequency of your actions (VPIP, PFR, etc). The 2+2 'style' generally leads towards a happy range for most of these numbers, but having good stats and good results are very different things. Stats are useful in identifying the existence of major leaks, but often leave you in a guessing game in determining where those leaks may reside. You will have to post hands or read materials to fix your leaks.

[Edit to add] For an informative post on 6 max stats, see this post by MrWookie.
[Edit to add] Wanna know about pahud, see this post by bravos1


4. Miscellaneous Links and resources:------------------------
v1.0 - 2/01/2005 - by btspider

This guide is a work in progress. Comments and suggestions for improvement in the next version are welcome and may be posted here.

Last edited by MrWookie; 05-13-2008 at 09:34 AM. Reason: Fixed formatting and hand converter links. add bravos1 pahud post
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Old 12-03-2007, 04:46 PM   #2
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Re: MicroStakes LIMIT (not NL) Guidelines/FAQ v1.0

OK, guys, I've fixed the links to forums and such in here, and I've removed links to non-2+2 hand converters, since we now have an official one. I haven't fixed all the links to old threads. If anyone is inclined to track all the proper links down, the forum will be grateful.
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