Today we are going to present some strategic tips that novice online micro and small stake cash game players may want to implement to increase their winnings.
First, let’s clarify your winrate and how you can measure it. Most poker tracking software allows you to track all kinds of stats about your game (and everyone else at the table). One is ‘winrate’ which is measured by bb/100 in cash games. I.e. the average amount of big blinds you win per 100 hands.
You can also sort your win rate by two factors:
- bb/100 – the actual amount of big blinds you’ve won on average for every 100 hands you’ve played
- evbb/100 – the expected value in big blinds/100 hands (how much you should win based on your hand win percentage at the time of the last betting round).
1. Balance your life more than your ranges
Believe it or not, balancing your micro/small betting ranges is less important than in an environment of fully experienced, cunning opponents. At smaller stakes, you should focus on playing solid poker. Well-constructed strategies and theoretically optimal games will earn you money. But not so much if you can exploit your opponents weaknesses and turn against them. Are they too passive? Put them in difficult places. Are some of them too aggressive? Trap them more often and try to stay more unpredictable. I don’t support making plays out of line. The basics are essential, but it’s more important to discover how your opponents are deviating from the optimum and turn your strategy against them.
Where you need to focus your energy on balancing is your daily life. Ask any professional poker player. They would agree that you can do at least that much for your profit off the tables.
These tips work outside of the poker world as well. First things first: have a plan. Then break it down into small pieces as you make them a daily routine. This can be related to poker, including how many hands you want to play in a year/month/day, how much time it will cost you, what else you need to do to develop your game, etc. Always choose your goals wisely. Plan only something you have control over. “I want to be 10bb/100 in the next 100,000 hands”, “I want to be a winning NL50 player” and “I want to go from NL10 to NL200 in three months” are just bad plans. Why? Since you don’t have the power to control such things, these are very vague statements. You may achieve them, but there is a difference, certain factors affect the result, you are probably overestimating your abilities, etc. If you set goals that are beyond your control, you will eventually fail. Try to avoid them. Instead, hold yourself accountable and focus on things that are up to you and that can be measured.
Your daily life contains more than just poker-related plans and actions. It’s a good idea to have a system where you sleep and eat well. Do some physical activity, at least one hour a day. Your body will thank you for waking up at the same time every day and eating healthy and nutritious food when you can. You will simply be calmer and more in control, which will also affect the poker tables. In such a monotonous and stressful environment that poker offers, being balanced in your daily life is golden.
2. Table selection
Have you heard the catchphrase from the movie “Rounders”: “If you can’t spot the fool in your first half hour at the table, then you ARE the fool.”?
Don’t be that person. Especially not in online poker, where you can play hundreds of valuable hands in half an hour.
Try to find players who are clearly worse than you. Good signs are if someone is not sitting with a full stack at the table or playing too many hands. If you can sit next to them on the left, even better. Keep in mind; the more hands in position, the less difficult decisions for you.
Have you ever experienced the following? You start your session, you have already opened four tables. Suddenly you find yourself in the center of the action. On table 1 you are already faced with a 3bet of CO vs BB with ATo, but you don’t have time to think about whether this hand you want to defend, nor to check the stats from 3bettor, because on table 2 you are on the BvB turn, after c-betting the whole you flop range (K72r). So what should you do on the turn that brings 7 spades and you hold K9o. Suddenly annoying alarm from table 3. Should you open A9o from HJ? And so on… Sound familiar?
Then don’t be afraid. Simply warm up as you would before any sporting activity. Every player has a different routine, but a 10-30 minute warm-up can’t hurt. Check out poker related material, but more importantly, take action and get your brain working. See your marked hands from the day or think of some places. What are your options and how would you react in certain situations?
Do you feel stressed all day because a poker session went wrong? Do you generally feel frustrated most of the time? You may want to introduce a little cool down into your routine. After the session, take a break, drink some water and go back to your biggest/most challenging hands. What could you do differently? Ask friends or post your questions in forums. I’m sure it will help put your mind at ease.
OK, but what’s the bottom line? What is a good winrate?
Honestly, it’s pretty relative. Anything above 0 can be good news as it means you are a winning player. Be careful with the numbers though – as always in poker – the bigger your sample, the better. Your results are closer to reality if you have the same win rate over a significant sample, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of hands. Yes, the variation is *itch, but that’s a topic for another day.
- So let’s say you are a 0-3bb/100 winner in a large sample. This means that you are a moderately profitable player who may experience some serious game changes, but at the end of the day (or better said, at the end of the month), you can withdraw some real money.
- Between 3-7bb/100 you really rule the tables. You are in control of most situations you face. At the end of the month, you almost always withdraw a significant amount of the profit. Fewer swings, more certainty to win at the end.
- Above 7bb/100 there is nothing to say, you are probably one of the best at your limit and should consider raising the stakes. Of course, in addition to maintaining a safe and stable bankroll management.
In such a competitive environment, you should do everything you can to increase your profit. Every little one aspect counts. Why not start with something as simple as being prepared and balanced before you even play your first hand?
I hope you find things to take with you. Good luck on the tables!