With half of the world’s population living under lockdown conditions, there has never been a better time for poker players to knuckle down and take stock of where they currently are with their game.
For non-professional players, life can easily get in the way of improving your skills. Sometimes this is the case for the pros too. Now, though, for most of you there can be no excuse. Any poker player that is suffering from boredom should be putting in some hours to fine tune those skills that you already have.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important areas micro stakes players need to keep in check. This refreshing of the fundamentals will give you confidence that you need to start working on the more advanced concepts you never had time for before.
Pre flop is where it all begins. Starting a hand with a poor strategy will only lead to more costly mistakes down the road.
Starting hands - You must refresh your opening hands and review any typical mistakes. It is also worth spending time on your strategies for adjusting against specific players.
Three betting - Ranges for both making a three-bet and facing one can be difficult to keep clear in your head. There is a lot of adjusting going on in this situation and also the option of calling or four betting if you want to defend. This is really important to nail down if you want to avoid unnecessary leaks.
Four/five betting - Stack off ranges haven’t changed much over the years for micro stakes players but it is worth doing a review of late position situations. Maybe you can get away with five betting slightly wider against an average opponent.
You must add more sophistication to your game. For instance, continuation betting out of position has been proven to be less profitable than in the past.
Players today, even many recreational players, are aware of the power of position, meaning you get much fewer folds compared to five years ago.
Also, when facing continuation bets you might find that people are not blindly betting as they might have done in the past. This means you must work on being clear with understanding what range your opponent is likely betting and what your counter plan is.
It’s worth mentioning that even though this is normally a small pot situation it is also the highest frequency spot post flop.
Dealing with getting Raised Post Flop
This is a classic area where new players make mistakes, usually by leveling themselves following a dynamic with a specific player.
The newest generation of database software allows us to perform population analysis. Performing this across many different platforms shows us that players are still, as an average, raising post flop only for value the majority of the time.
The best case is usually when your opponent holds a draw of some kind and is semi bluffing.
Because of this, you must accept that for best results you’re going to have to play more fit or fold than you maybe want to. This is fine if the population as a whole is raising you for value and not bluffing frequently enough.
To check your ranges for calling post flop raises, make a filter with your database and calculate if you would have been better off folding to begin with compared to continuing.
It is also a good exercise to play some volume where you tighten up considerably against post flop raises and then check your stats to see that you are still continuing a decent percentage of the time.
Probe Betting and Float Betting
Probe Bets - A bet from an out of position player on the turn or river when the in position player checks the previous street.
Float Bets - A bet from an in position player after the out of position player checks to them.
Probe bets and floats bets are where you can utilise a lot of creativity to outplay your opponents.
It is a sign of an inexperienced player to jump on these opportunities every time the chance comes up. You must use some level of sophistication to steer your opponent into mistakes.
The key developing a strategy for probe bets and floats bets is a sense of how vulnerable your hand is. If you feel your hand is safe enough to allow your opponent a free card then go for it.
The tendency to always want to bet whenever our opponent checks is to be avoided. This idea to mix in value hands that are not worth three streets of value is a great way to trap an opponent and also to make them think that just because you check you are weak.
With draws, a good way to mix them up is to assess how nutted they are. This also applies to gutshots.