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Micro-Small Stakes Limit Discussions about micro-small stakes Texas Hold'em (all stakes up to around 15/30)

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Old 01-03-2011, 05:10 PM   #1
[x] 9to5 avoided
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Arrow OFFICIAL FAQ! Everybody read this.

Created by avoidthe9to5, callipygian, and SadDonkey, from zillions of threads as well as the highlights of the halp/noob/wat thread. Thanks for your awesome help, guys!

This post should serve as a primer to our forum.

bb = (a) big blind, most commonly used in NL, or (b) big bet [common typo]
BB = (a) big bet, most commonly used in FL, or (b) big blind. The two usages are distinguished by context.
BB/hr = big bets per hour, the standard unit of measure for live LHE
BB/100 = big bets per 100 hands, the standard unit of measure for online LHE
SB = (a) small bet, or (b) small blind. The two usages are distinguished by context.
ptbb = Pokertracker big bet, 2x the big blind, used to compare FL and NL
NL or NLHE = No Limit Texas Hold'Em
FL or LHE = Fixed Limit Texas Hold'Em
EV = expected value, the amount you expect to win long-term by playing this scenario over and over again
EV+ or +EV = positive expected value, or making money long-term
EV- or -EV = negative expected value, or losing money long-term
VPIP = voluntarily put money into pot
PFR = preflop raise
WTSD = went to showdown
SD = (a) showdown, or (b) standard deviation. The two usages are distinguished by context.
W$SD = won money at showdown
BF = Black Friday, 4/15/11 when the government essentially shut down online poker in the US
GTO = Game Theory Optimal
HU = heads up
HUHU = heads up at a heads up table
mt = monotone, three of one suit on the flop
tt = two tone, two of one suit on the flop
limp = to just call the big blind
open = open raise (raise with nobody limping ahead)
ol = openlimp = to limp with nobody limping ahead
overlimp = to limp with limpers ahead
EP = early position, the first 1-3 seats to the left of the big blind
MP = middle position, the next 1-3 seats after EP
LP = late position, the button and the seat to the right of the button
CO = cutoff, the seat to the right of the button
HJ = hijack, the seat to the right of the cutoff
LJ = lowjack, the seat to the right of the hijack
BTN or OTB = on the button
c/r = check-raise
c/f = check-fold
b/f = bet-fold
b/c = bet-call
b/3 = bet-3bet
FR = full ring (9 or 10 seats at the table)
6-max = 6 seats at the table
Micros library (great source, especially for ol play)
The Micros FAQ, another good resource
The Small Stakes ShortHanded FAQ
What's the difference between SSLHE and uSLHE (microstakes)?

Microstakes is a good place to begin learning about poker and developing fundamentals. SSLHE is a great place to further refine your basic knowledge and expand your capabilities as a player. There is more online content in micros and that a lot of people post on both forums.
New to LHE, and new to poker?
Study, Study and STUDY
Originally Posted by gobbledygeek View Post
I'm thinking the key to limit hold'em is value betting; it's one of the most obvious mistakes I see at the table. People bet their two pair / set / etc. to the river and then let the river check thru for fear of a bigger hand, leaving a large portion of a BB or two on the table every single time. Or they don't raise enough hands preflop that do well equity wise against the field they are playing.

- don't bluff; fairly correct, although you will find spots
- check call low pairs; in most cases (especially multiway pots), low pairs should be folded on the flop if you don't hit your set, unless pot is super huge and you only have to call one bet
- bet middle pairs; not so sure about that one, maybe in late position if no one has shown interest in the pot
- bet/raise top pairs and big draws; ask yourself if you want to build a huge pot (ex. when you're on a big draw) or whether you want to face the field with 2 bets cold to protect a vulnerable top pair; then ask yourself where the bet is most likely going to come on the flop (perhaps due to preflop action) and base your flop action (i.e. bet/3bet vs check/raise) on this
- don't try and make any hero folds on the end; ya, in big pots you should usually be calling one bet on the river with appropriate hands

- read SSHE; it's all there
What books should I read?

>>> small stakes holdem by sklansky and miller - General consensus this is the LHE Bible and a good starting point for anyone's game

Low limit hold em by Lee Jones is also a good read.

For online play, Stox traders Winning In Tough Hold Em Games
Everyone chases everything and they always get there on the river. What do I do?
Originally Posted by DougL View Post
It is certain that you can beat most loose games just by playing tighter than everyone else. There is no award for being the tightest player at the table. As you become the best player at the table there are a number of things that would make you want to play many more hands than the books for beginners recommend. In no particular order things like:

1) There are only going to be bad players in the pot, and I have a hand that can exploit their mistakes.
2) I know how many people are going to be in the pot and for how many bets, and I have a hand that likes the expected action.
3) I'm on the button, and I have a hand that is remotely near playable. I'm playing a lot of hands in late position, especially against bad players.

and so on

As you learn to play better, you'll start thinking about your hands relative to the situation you are going to be in. You think this instead of the absolute value of your hand versus a chart.

Seriously, in a soft live game, I'm playing 30% up to maybe 50% of my hands. I'm looking for excuses to be in pots with the fish.
When should I slowplay?
Pretty much never. Bet your damn hand.
Originally Posted by DougL View Post
The best time to LRR is almost never. This isn't something to work on. You do it with hands that want a huge MW pot when you're OOP. That's AA, maybe KK, maybe other PP (depending on how many people you expect to trap), and maybe AKs. You have to be sure that someone will raise for you to LRR; you're throwing away a lot of value if it doesn't work. This is a symptom of FPS.
When should I be stealing blinds?
The higher the rake % of the potsize, the less you can steal profitably. My stealing % is vastly lower in a 2/4 (or lower) ol game than a 10/20 ol game.
Originally Posted by mntndrew View Post
Rake Structure Matters. In the Bay Area cardrooms, there's a $4 drop for 3/6 and 6/12, and a $5 drop for 8/16 and up. In other words, once there's a flop, $4 comes out of the pot. In the 3/6 game, it pretty much means there's no reason to try to steal the blinds. There's effectively no pot if it's folded to you on the button!

You occasionally even hear stories about the small blind completing in a 3/6 game. When that happens, he puts in $2, and the pot is.... $2.

If the table is otherwise good (loose), I'd pass up on some marginal steal hands with a drop instead of a rake. It keeps the table happy, and everyone wants to move on to the "real" hands. Your edge (position plus cards plus postflop play) is going to be really diminished by the drop if the house is taking out 20% of the pot to start with. I would not pass on hands that had substantial advantages like the ATs. YMMV.

If you're seeing this situation a lot, sure, go ahead and play your normal steal game. It won't last that long anyway, because presumably you're on the table change list.
I'm a ___ winner/loser, how do I tell if this is just good/bad luck?

Statistical Confidence Intervals are used to calculate confidence in winrates; however, everyone's game is constantly changing and it's extremely difficuly (some say impossible) to ever tell your true win rate. Over a large sample size (200k+) hands, one could deduce that a player has a certain % of being a winning player using Confidence intervals... but generally a winning player can be discovered is because of their thought process and not their winrate.
The best players in the world still have losing multi-month stretches
I'm playing <stats> but still losing, what's wrong?

Originally Posted by leo doc View Post
Here's the cliff notes version for fr games. (This assumes that you've got a statisically valid sample size on villain, btw. Some of us begin to draw conclusions at about 300 hands; for others, it might be 500 or more.)

Say we refer to someone as 20/10/2. First number refers to his VPIP or "voluntarily puts money in pot." IOW, what percentage of hands are they playing outside the blinds? A vpip of 18-20ish would be considered TAG; less than 15 or so would be "nit"; high twenties or so would be laggy (assuming other numbers correlate); you wanna be on the left of anybody with a vpip> 35.

Second number- the "10" in our example- refers to his pf raising percentage. Obviously, aggressive players will have a relatively robust number here. They're not cc raises, nor are they open limping pots. Something in the 10-14 range or so for the above described player would characterize him as TAG.

Last number, the "2", is denoted as an overall agression frequency (AF) or value. A "normal" TAG would have something in the 1.8-2.2 range. Numbers in the 0.2-1.2 would generally denote passive players. Values above 2.8 or so are very aggressive players. AF's above 3 or 3.5 for statisically valid spl sizes, especially when coupled with other numbers such as VPIP can often denote that there's "a maniac on the loose."

Now for my disclaimer: This is very abbreviated and generic and meant for illustrative purposes only.
What limit should I play?

If you're new, consider starting out at .1/.2 at the highest. Always start at the bottom and work your way up.
Literally, whatever you're bankrolled for and comfortable playing. (see bankroll questions)
What is the skill difference between X limit and X limit?

As you go up in stakes, the skill levels of your opposition go up as well. Generally, the higher you go the more aggressive it is. This includes the fish, they get more aggressive as well (on average)
Should I multi-table? How many tables should I play?

Play however many tables that allows you to play your A game. Many professionals only play 3-4 tables. If you're looking to move up in stakes and improve your game, i'd suggest sticking to <4 tables.
What stakes is (insert stakes) live similar to online?

The standard "conversion" from live to online is 1/10 - 3/6 live corresponds to 0.30/0.60 online, 10/20 live corresponds to 1/2 online. I believe that online players tend to be more aggressive, even at the "converted" levels.
Now, are you saying that if I consistently beat 1/2 game online, I will be a winning 10/20 player?

No. You're a winning 10/20 player when you're a winning 10/20 player. The games just play similarly as a benchmark for comparison
When should I move up

When you are bankrolled for the higher limit & are comfortable playing it. You can also take shots at higher limits if you're ok with losing the money.
Is my bankroll big enough?

TLDR VERSION - It seriously depends on your goals and comfort level -
300BB is considered fine for Casuals
600BB is a bit more conservative
1kBB is a standard approach several professionals use (I don't recommend this for casual players)
Originally Posted by DeuceKicker
To answer your question... wait for it... it depends. Some people--at least those that have strict rules about when they'll drop down--do so when they've lost 100BB, others when they've lost 150BB or maybe 200BB. A lot depends on what levels you have to drop down to. If the next highest level is 2-4 you would only need $1200 to have 300BB for that level, so you could lose $4800 (240BB) at the 10-20 level and still be fully rolled for 2-4.

If the next level down from 10-20 was 8-16 you'd probably want to drop down a lot sooner. For one thing, if you wait until you've lost 240BB at 10, you've one bad session from having to drop down from the 8 game as well. It's also easier to build your BR back up to 10-20 levels playing 8-16 than 2-4, so you can drop down without feeling like you won't be playing 10-20 again for the next 18 months.
This, IMO, is the trifecta of bankroll advice. I'm basically going to repeat these three points but sort of organize them into one thought so you can see the parallel.

Variance plays a key part of the bankroll calculation, but it's win rate which is the real question.

(1) If you can replenish your bankroll at a certain rate, you can add that to your win rate as a replenishment rate for ROR calculations. This gives a huge boost in terms of what recreational players can get away with. For example, if you can deposit $120/month into a live 6/12 bankroll and play 20 hours a month at +0.5 BB/hr, you can do your ROR calculations based on winning +1 BB/hr because of replenishment, turning a 300 BB bankroll from a marginal one (ROR = 13%) to a solid one (ROR = 2%; not sure why my number doesn't match with DougL's).

(2) If you have to withdraw from your bankroll at a certain rate, you must subtract that from your win rate as a negative replenishment rate for ROR calculations. This is the exact opposite of (1) - if you withdraw $1,800/month from your online account and play 40,000 hands per month @ 3/6, a +1 BB/100 win rate which is nominally enough to cover expenses generates a huge ROR when you use your adjusted win rate of +0.25 BB/100. A 2,000 BB, OMFG-solid bankroll (ROR = 0.00003%) suddenly becomes a scarily-flimsy bankroll (ROR = 11%).

(3) An exact win rate is really, really hard to pin down; chances are your game will change by the time you get a sample size large enough. This is key, because as many people will point out, your starting win rate is likely inflated with respect to your true win rate since poker players are selected for those who have initial success. Which means if you have a +1 BB/100 WR and 18 BB/100 SD over 50,000 hands, you should be using a lower-bound +0.8 BB/100 or +0.9 BB/100 win rate in your calculations rather than +1.0.
You are a guy who crushed the 40/80 live game in San Francisco for 2BB/HR? Or, are you a soul-owning 2BB/100 3/6 6m player who cashed out for the holidays? If so, here are some estimatates of RoR for you. I'm assuming a 2BB/100 win rate (one of the best 5/T players on the site) and a standard deviation of 18BB/100. I know a few people this good. Most of them have had the odd $1000 losing session, but you might be up a few grand before that hits. This is the BR followed by your chances of going broke with that BR.

$500 - 54%
$1000 - 29%
$1500 - 16%
$2000 - 9%

Let's say you're just a very good mid-stakes 30/60 or higher player, or that you're just a decent established 5/T winner. 1BB/100, SD 20.

$500 - 78%
$1000 - 61%
$1500 - 47%
$2000 - 37%

Let's say that you're someone who is moving up to a pretty darned tough limit who may miss some of his leaks vs. the regs. You do OK at your local 10/20 and beat .5/1 online well enough. People make a living playing lower limit than this. Still, you do a good job of finding fish and are +EV after rake. WR 0.25BB/100, SD 20.

$500 - 93%
$1000 - 88%
$1500 - 83%
$2000 - 79%

It all depends on how much going busto will bother you. I would guess that best case, you're going broke > 70% of the time. It may be closer to 9/10. If you want to take a shot and go for glory, no problem. In the grand scheme of the world, coming up with another $200 is no big deal. If you mind losing the money, this is a very bad plan.
What is a realistic winrate for online play?

1 BB/100 is generally considered to be a good goal for "beating" a game; 1.5-2.5 BB/100 is generally considered to be crushing it, and many people will consider over 2.5+ BB/100 to be unrealistic long term. (at anything besides the microstakes)
What is a realistic winrate for live play?

1 BB/hr is generally considered to be a good goal for "beating" a game; 1.5 BB/hr is generally considered to be crushing it, and many people will consider 2+ BB/hr to be unrealistic long term, especially at 15/30+
Is 2/4, 3/6 & 4/8 live beatable?

If you can turn a profit at these stakes - IT IS EXTREMELY MARGINAL with the extremely high rakes. The rake makes the difference.
Bottom line, imo: Yes, live 3/6 and 4/8 can be beat with rake of $3+$2 (perhaps +$1 for tip), but not for very much (if you're approaching 1 BB/hour, you're doing very well). 2/4 is even tougher to turn a profit in, as the rake is a lions share of your profits.
What are session reviews?

It's the literal meaning. You play a session and review the hands. Many people get together to review hands together and discuss strategy. If you find good ones, post them! Hire a coach to help you improve your game. DougL highly recommends the monthly session reviews from the micros stakes forums. In his opinion, this is the single best resource an online player can have.
What do you do to keep yourself playing solid poker and keep your psyche positive and play good poker?

quit when you're losing. the donkeys will still be there tomorrow when you have a clear head. or at least take a dinner break, go for a walk along the water to your nearest orange julius or whatever, breathe in the fresh air and then come back and see if you're mentally ready again.
Have a short memory and a massive ego. I'm only half-kidding. You need to be able to forget, or temporarily forget, any sort of negative variance you just experienced. Learn from the experience, of course, but stay away from the "the last time I did this" thinking. Also, you need to convince yourself of your skills beforehand, and revert to that baseline state whether you actually win or lose. Obviously, the goal isn't to delude yourself into thinking you're better than you are, but if you've picked your game such that you expect to win, keep expecting to win (plus/minus variance) throughout the session. Re-evaluate after you're away from the table, not while you're at the table.
What is the average downswings for a 2/4 limit player.

it's not noteworthy til 250-300+ bb, assuming you're a solid winning player. if you don't have much of or any winrate at all, you can expect more swings and heartburn.
I have no idea what the 29/22/2 means? Could someone enlighten me?

Volunatrily put money in pot/ % of hands raised pf/ aggression factor.
Online, in FR games, most tight aggressive winning players (TAGS), will be something like 15-20/10-15/1.5-2.2
Does anyone know the odds of X hand against X hand ranges holding up to the river?

Here's a very good milestone post from Lanyi on the micro stakes forum.
Does full-ring or 6-max make a difference?
6m shows off your strengths in blind stealing/defense situations. I'd say the games are more aggressive, but once you hit 1/2 the games are extremely aggressive both fr and 6m. It is just picking how the aggression comes.
How do you table select?
- look at the pot size and from time to time at % to see the flop. The higher the better
- have a list of weak players that you track (just mark them with a color)
- observe tables after sitting in, looking for obvious mistakes like open limping or cold calling. Loose passivity to your right.
- tight players on your left, loose players on your right, good players across the table (or preferrably absent)

seat selection may be the single biggest contributor to your WR, once you've mastered the basics
What is a typical standard deviation
Online 6max ~15-18 BB/100
Online FR ~12-15 BB/100
Live Standard Deviations are much lower
How much should I buy in for when I play live?
2 Racks is standard
How often should I post?
Please only start two new threads a day, tops (and we prefer one). These should have preferably one and a maximum of two hands in them. Our goal is to make sure that everyone's threads get a reasonable amount of time on the front page -- ensuring some level of fairness and equality.
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Last edited by DougL; 03-06-2013 at 11:22 PM. Reason: Added more to glossary and books
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