Fast Track To Success – Lesson 9

Micro Stakes Poker (9)

  • The type of player an opponent is will always dictate how we ourselves play
  • The goal here is to exploit our opponents as much as possible
  • Here I provide some more specific advice on how to play different player types

Keep Yourself In The Profit Zone

When we are betting to take advantage of fold equity, the tighter our opponents are, the more profitable betting will be. We are going after folds with this strategy, and looking for our opponents to give up on their hands. Very often they won’t have a real hand and if they aren’t willing to continue with it, as many players won’t be, then whoever is the aggressor will win the pot.

The other way we make money is to get paid off by showing down the better hand, and when we look to take advantage of this we’re going for value. In this case, we need to stay within the parameters of our actually being the favorite at showdown here. We can’t see our opponents’ cards of course, and our assessment of whether we’re the favorite or not is going to be based upon what we have combined with what information we have about our opponent.

The Information We Have On Opponents Constantly Changes

Micro Stakes Stage #9

It’s then important to keep in mind that the information we have on what our opponent has, which is the second piece of the puzzle in assessing our chances at showdown, is going to be dynamic. Each move in the hand at least has the potential to provide more information to us to further refine our assessment. We also need to look at what we know about the general tendencies of our opponents when looking to bet for value, and especially their tendency to show down hands.

So what we’re after is to look to see how many times they will be willing to show down, and what sort of money they are willing to commit to hands in order to do this. We can call this showdown looseness or tightness, and in the end this is the only measure of looseness or tightness that we need to be concerned about. If a player, for instance, is loose right up to the river, and then tight at the river, then we can just consider him or her to be tight, since we’ll be looking to take down pots as we would if they were tight at other stages of the hand.

Hand Reading Is An Extremely Important Skill

The looser they are in this regard, the more willing they are to lose money with their hands, and thus the more we can go for value against them. We also want to use our hand reading skills here as well, something you’ll be getting better at as you learn the game more and develop your skills. A simple example of this is if a player raises pre-flop with a tight range, for instance medium pairs or better and suited cards, and the flop comes down with all low cards, we know that they are more likely to miss.

Another example is a paired board without any good draws. So this is really a combination of looking to read a player’s hand and looking to read the board as well, and this will become more and more of a skill you’ll use as you get better. I wanted to throw this in now just to make you aware of it, although for now we really don’t have to worry about that too much and in fact need to start with just looking at a player’s overall tendencies in terms of what kind of player they are, and leave that until we’ve mastered this concept enough.

Focus On Who Should Be The Aggressor

So as we’re looking at how loose or tight they are in terms of the hands they are willing to show down, and how much money they are generally willing to commit when doing it, we also need to look at their level of aggression, meaning how often and how willing they are to put money in the pot as the aggressor. When we put these things together, we can then compare whether our chances of getting the most money in the pot and therefore the most value out of our hands is higher by our being the aggressor or letting them be the aggressor.

So let’s go back to our four main player types and see which tactic would be better against each. With our tight passive player, he likes to fold but doesn’t like to bet or raise, so we’re going to need to be the aggressor most of the time. However, we’ll be going for fold equity against him most of the time, and need to be careful when he doesn’t fold, as this will more often than not indicate that he or she has a real hand here which they are willing to get their chips in with. So we will need a stronger hand than normal to play for value against them and at the same time we have to be careful not to give them value with their made hands.

So we will own tight passive players with fold equity, and generally let them take the pot when they don’t fold, unless we are the favorite against the range they are playing on with. It’s just the opposite with loose passive players though, as we will be making most of our money against them with value, as they are much more inclined to go to showdown fairly lightly. So we won’t be looking to bluff these players anywhere near as much, but as I’ve shown, we don’t just want to only bet when we have a strong hand either.

Make Sure That Your Play Isn’t Too Easy To Figure Out

Depending on the player, these people do fold as well, and therefore we do want to mix in some bluffs, particularly when it looks like they probably don’t have anything. This will also serve to balance the range we bet out with, and if we just bet with the goods, we’re going to be too easy to read. This isn’t as big of a concern at the micro stakes as it is when playing higher, but it’s a good idea not to develop bad habits by making our play too transparent, and even donkeys will catch on at least somewhat when we do.

We’ll mostly be betting for value against loose passive players, so we do want to keep that in mind, and in particular make sure that when we’re called we’re still the favorite. This relates not only to our betting in the first place, but the amount that we bet as well, and if we get too much money in the pot in relation to what we have, we can put ourselves in a position to no longer be the favorite if they don’t fold. I’m mentioning this again since it’s something we always want to keep in mind when we’re looking to build the pot for value.

Playing Against Tight Aggressive Players

So now let’s move on to tight aggressive opponents. Given the nature of their play, they like to be the aggressor, and will often fold to our aggression, which is what makes them tight. So as is the case with tight passive players, we’ll be relying on fold equity to make our money, but in this case, when we go for value, we’re more likely to get it when they end up being the aggressor in the hand. When they have something, they tend to want to play it strongly, and often times they can’t help themselves here even when it’s clear to them that we aren’t calling them down light.

They also like to raise as well as bet, so we can also look to get value out of them by looking to raise them and hoping they will re-raise us. We do need to be careful to only do this when we’re still the favorite when re-raised, which means that generally we need a really strong hand to do it with. However, there are also gong to be spots where we’ll be doing that as a bluff, as long as they fold enough, and we definitely don’t want to only raise when we have a big hand, as we’ll be too easy to read. In general though, we’re going to be more than happy to give these players the pot when they are not folding to our bets and we don’t have a strong enough hand to take them on at showdown.

With loose aggressive players, we can go for value either by our being the aggressor or letting them be the aggressor, so it really comes down to which trait they possess more, meaning what they are more of, looser or more aggressive. We won’t need anywhere as strong of a hand as we do against the tighter players, since they will show down weaker hands and we thus need less to beat them more often than they beat us.

The Difference Lies In How Often They Like To Bet Or Raise

So you need to look at the amount of times these players call versus bet or raise, and you’ll then get a feeling for which of these would be best to pursue against them generally. Remember, with our value hands we are looking to build the pot, and not have them fold their weaker hands, so this is what we need to look at. Often times, this will come down to who has position here, and players in position generally tend to be more aggressive. However, I always look to see which a player will do more, meaning betting or calling, which is another way of saying that I’m going for the tactic that they are looser with, and more likely to take to showdown lightly.

So this relates to the issue of exploring alternate lines that I mentioned in a previous lesson, and the example was against a loose aggressive player, although this is something we can consider against all types of opponents. So it’s sometimes the case where we can make more money by being passive, especially if our opponents are more aggressive and will do the betting for us. It doesn’t’ really matter who does the betting when we’re going for value, as long as someone does.

When we’re passive though, we risk not getting the money in on that street if our opponent passes up on the opportunity as well, although that can serve to give us some good information which we can take advantage of later. For instance, if I’m playing someone aggressive and I check to them out of position, and they usually bet here but don’t in this case, this often indicates weakness, and I can look to take the pot down on the next street. So I wasn’t going to get value here anyway, and while I could have probably taken the pot down here, the opportunity probably still exists, and I avoided exposing myself to being raised with a hand I’d have to fold.

This brings us into the need for a discussion about position, which I’ll get into for you in the next lesson.