Escaping the Micros. Help needed
MemberSeptember 14, 2020 at 12:38 pm
I’ve been stuck at the micros for quite some time and my main issue comes from the mediocre results I’ve had throughout the summer. I had no plans on moving up as I know where I’m at skillwise but this bad run has been really messing with up with me.
I’ve been focusing my strategy around GTO and although it seems logical to apply it at any limit, I feel like it doesn’t serve me well at the micros. The majority of my opponents are there to gamble and the games feel more like a casino. So basically, I’m either getting outplayed by people playing 50%+ of hands on average; or I’m really making fundamental mistakes within my strategy application.
I’ve recently saw some forum posts by Johnnyutah and decided to go through his forum history. He made some interesting suggestions regarding the micro stakes and the adjustments needed to beat them. The most important I found was that dropping the bottom 30% of the opening/isolating range should be mandatory due to the multiway pots and the nut potential needed to play these.
Currently, this year I’m down almost 100 buy ins at PLO10, while slightly winning at PLO25.
I need some help or suggestions on how to approach the situation.
For those of you that escaped the micros:
What was the most important thing your changed about your game or thinking?
What do you think the micro players biggest weaknesses are and why are they stuck?
The post is getting long so I’ll leave it at that for now. Looking forward to your reply guys.
MemberSeptember 16, 2020 at 1:19 am
I will first say that no one can actually play a GTO strategy, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to do so even if anyone could implement the strategy perfectly. You make the most money by learning about how your opponents approach the game, what kinds of things they do wrong and well, and then applying pressure to their weak points so to speak. Color code and take notes on every single opponent – if there’s an interesting spot and you fold in a MW pot, fold and watch to take notes on the showdown after the hand. You can get a good sense of a persons strategy from a few showdowns in similar spots.
If you notice that certain players never fold to 3-bets, then 3-bet them with a slightly wider range of hands and punish them for over-valuing and over-playing their double suited garbage. I wouldn’t say you need to go as far as dropping 30% of your RFI range; but definitely do need to play tighter. The EV of an open from any position is based on having some fold equity – which at the micros is nearly none. It’s almost guaranteed that we will see a flop, and with at least 2 other players quite often. Because of this, we want to focus on nuttiness rather than smoothness most of the time. I would drop some of the marginal Kings/Queens from EP/MP as well as the connected but gappy rundowns (JT97/QJ98) type of hands from EP/MP as well.
I’ll talk about my opinion on why I believe many micros players are stuck (so to speak), just from a strategical standpoint. Most players at the micros cold-call way too often, usually from the BTN as well as over-defending the SB and BB in MW pots. The SB CC frequency is actually about 1%; so it’s not really a mistake to have a 3-bet or fold mentality there. Either your hand is strong enough to 3-bet a CO/BTN open (or squeeze), or it’s not and needs to be folded. We can defend a bit more in the BB, but again remember we are looking for nuttiness and hands that can make the nuts, so calling in MW pots preflop with hands that look pretty (9865ds say) are just huge negative implied odds that put is in tricky spots post-flop. Many micros players as well over-value Aces and aren’t willing to fold them post-flop in a MW SRP, or open too many trashy Kings/Queens/Jacks from EP.
At PLO10, the rake is so high (around 16bb/100 I believe) so just to be a small winner, you actually need to be crushing the games to overcome the high rake. It’s a better strategy to take money from outside poker (if possible) and inject your bankroll to move up to PLO25. Say for instance you were a 10bb/100 winner at PLO10 (after rake, no rakeback) and you could play 400 hands/hr. This would net you $4/hr, which would be about 1/3rd of a minimum wage job in most developed countries. It would make more sense to work a little bit on the side part time, and put that money into your roll to play PLO25/PLO50/PLO100, and avoid paying a ton of rake.
I also started at PLO10 with $400 about a year ago now, I am currently playing PLO50. I was lucky enough that I was able to win some money at PLO10, but I was also injecting my bankroll every two weeks with some additional income that allowed me to move up in stakes faster than solely grinding it out. For me, there are a couple things I like to keep in my mindset at all times, here are the biggest ones for me that allowed me to “escape”:
Meditation and proper warm-up before playing. 5-10 minutes of mediation through Primed Mind, if nothing else it’s nice and relaxing and I think it’s a good way of entering each session with a consistent mindset. I also use PLO Trainer for about 15 minutes; I’ll focus on a couple spots that have been giving me trouble lately, or pick an RFI range and do some quizzes in order to get my brain in “game mode” before I hit the tables
I understand what I can control, and what I can’t – the only thing I can control is the decisions I make, and to try and play each hand the best I possibly can. Once the money goes in, if my opponent gets lucky, good for him, onto the next hand – I can’t control how the cards come out of the deck at that point.
If every bad player lost every time they were behind/flipping, they’d soon leave and never return, and poker wouldn’t be profitable for anyone. The players with inferior strategical skill need to suck-out sometimes in order for games to remain good, and the great thing about PLO is you are never that far behind (usually).
Around 90% of poker players are losing players – which means that 9/10 opponents you play are losing money in the long run. Don’t worry about the poor strategy they are playing, because they aren’t a long-term winning player. If you use a HUD or database, pull up the stats for your opponents who are winning the most at your stakes and take a look into their numbers and some of the hands they played. It can give a lot of insight into how they deviate from GTO/exploit opponents at those specific stakes.
Sorry for the long winded reply – There are a lot of things in here I wish I’d known about sooner when I was playing PLO10 as well for so long. Feel free to PM me if you wish!
MemberSeptember 18, 2020 at 1:59 pm
Sorry to hear things dont work out atm for you at the micros.
The suggestion made by Johnny is something i support a lot. As there are so many MW pots you want to tighten up, especially from EP/MP. In the CO you really want to pay attention to the BTN and how many hands he plays. If he is very loose you should tighten up as well. Check out a video I made about this topic on raising first in from the CO.
In addition i would think a lot about your position at the table. On the button its fine to widen up with your RFI range when possible.
I would also look into your cold call stats preflop. You want to play tight ranges, especially once you are not on the BTN. Keep in mind when 3-betting that you have low fold equity preflop, so remove your 3-bet bluffs from your range in many situations.
Postflop you want to think a lot about the ranges in play and how these interact with a board texture. Ranges are often very wide which makes your initial RFI/3bet range very strong in many spots, therefore playing GTO isnt always best.
In addition look out for exploits that work well and keep putting pressure there.
1. When your opponent checks in a SRP he is often weak as he doesnt protect his check range enough
2. People lack multi street aggression as they bet to many medium strong hands on early streets that they cannot comfortably bet again.
3. People 4-bet AA only (at least very often)
4. People check fold a lot in 3-bet pots when they check.
These are a couple of ideas to get you started here.
In addition i would look into your own routines, study plan, where you play, when you play etc, and see if you can optimize here. Its extremely important to focus on your mental game, tactics and optimizations as well beside strategy only. Something many of us miss out on.
Check out the 10-week program to learn more about these topics.
If you have any questions feel free to hit me up on discord!
MemberSeptember 22, 2020 at 10:03 am
So it’s been over a week since my post and I did some changes to my game that so far seem to be beneficial. Thank you Steve and Luuk for the suggestions. Variance has definitely been on my side, so I’m not getting carried away by the good results.
This is what I did:
1. I tightened up significantly, especially from the early positions and the blinds. I also pay close attention to the players on my left and whether they are likely to fold preflop.
2. I started cold calling less and 3-bet only very strong hands, especially if I have no fold equity.
3. I started to limp in situations that raising wouldn’t be optimal since I have no fold equity and I prefer to play a small pot. Additionally, I limp because I don’t wanna get 3-bet, since the pot is likely to be multiway anyway.
4. Postflop I started deviating from GTO sizings and bet bigger with stronger hands. People are unlikely to fold if they have something and, for example, I’d rather bet full pot compared to 1/2 pot (as per GTO). This way I increase my winrate in this spot by close to 2x just because I bet bigger.
5. The most important thing for me is that these changes made me more calm and confident in my game. Previously I always had anxiety and disappointment when results have been mediocre but now that I tightened up, I know that I’m gonna beat my competition in the long run.