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Day 2 – How to Avoid Common Mistakes made by Micro-stakes Players

After coaching my good friend Daniel over the past few months, I noticed a common trend among micro-stakes players. They tend to be making fairly similar mistakes and today, I would like to share some of them with you.

1. Not respecting Turn and River raises
Most players, regulars and recreational players alike, tend to be highly weighted towards 2-pairs or better when they raise the Turn. Why is that the case? I think it’s important to understand the general psychology of many players. Most players feel that it is a huge investment to float the Flop with weak hands and turn them into bluff-raises on later streets as the pot grows in size. A standard, solid reg would probably prefer bluff-raising the Flop right away to take down the pot. A loose-passive type of player who plays a ton of hands preflop will rarely make a strong hand. Thus, when he does hit something huge, he will be more inclined to slowplay and bait his opponents with passivity, leaving the raises for later streets. This spot was extensively covered in Episode 1 of Yolosaurus Goes All-in.

2. Protection vs Pot Control
Many beginner players tend to overvalue many of their weak or medium strength made hands. On wet textures with a ton of possible draws and monster hands, many guys will opt to bet the Flop most of the time when checking is often going to be a preferable line. This is a huge mistake, as we are dealing with a range of hands (2-pairs, straights, flushes), not just a single category of hands (draws). When we take this fact into consideration, what we’ll find is that hands that we thought we could bet for value on the Flop would often make more sense as checks.

Example 1: Ah Th 8h
Most players will bet As 2s on the Flop here. Which I think is alright. But when we analyze the situation more deeply, we realize that Top Pair + No Kicker is a hand that probably cannot go for more than 1.5 streets of value, which means that we would have to check either the Flop or the Turn. Plenty of guys will reason that they need to protect their hand from a 4th heart falling on either the Turn or the River. If you took the time to consider the fact that Villain could have plenty of flushes in his range as well and also the fact that he’s very unlikely to call a second bet with TX, you would then realize that taking the Bet Flop Bet Turn line is going to be a losing play.

Example 2: 7s 8s 9d
Betting the Flop here with an overpair is not necessarily a bad play. But this is a great spot to check a hand like QQ-AA, because getting raised here would be really ugly for us, and also because we can expect our opponent to take a stab really often when checked to.

3. Rigid Bet Sizes on every street
I find that beginner players tend to forgo a lot of value by using a single bet size (2/3 pot) on most streets. There are many situations, especially against lesser opponents, which call for highly flexible bet sizes, especially in situations where your opponents will tend to have a highly inelastic calling range. What do I mean by that? If your opponent is always going to be calling with the same range of hands regardless of your bet size, then it makes sense to bluff as small as possible, and bet as large as possible with nutted hands to extract the maximum value.

Example 3: As 5d  2h Ah 9c
Hero bets the Flop and the Turn with 55. Villain, who is a huge calling station, calls twice. How large should he bet on the River?
Given that villain will almost always overvalue his trip Aces on the River and pay off too light, Hero should overbet 2X the pot on the River to extract the maximum value from hands like AQ AJ AT.

Example 4: Ad Td 5c
BTN raises to 3BB, BB 3-bets to 9BB, BTN 4-bets to 20BB, BB calls.
Flop (40.5BB) – BB checks, BTN ?
In this situation, a 14BB bet will likely put the same amount of pressure on BB as compared to a 20BB. BTN should opt to bet with the smaller size to enable him to bluff at a cheaper price.

4. Betting too small on later streets
Based on what I have seen so far from coaching students playing lower limits, it seems that most guys at lower limits tend to bet really small on Turns and Rivers. I think it’s important to bet larger both with stronger hands and with draws more often than not. Larger bet sizes tend to yield a higher EV in general.

5. Reading too much into stats when sample size is small
This has to be one of Daniel’s biggest leaks and I have to constantly remind him not to do that, especially in his NL5 Zoom games where the player pool is huge. Most of the time, he would only have less than a hundred hands on each of his opponents, which pretty much means that all stats besides VPIP and PFR are not going to be too reliable.

Example 5: Analyzing the stats of opponents

VPIP: 18, PFR: 15, 3bet: 25 (2/8), Total hands: 50

CO (Hero) raises to 3BB with 68s, BTN (Villain) 3-bets to 9BB, CO calls.

Me: Why are you calling here? This is such a loose call.
Daniel: But he’s really aggressive! He has a 3-bet stat of 25%
Me: Not again…

Daniel’s overall stats is 24/20/5 at the moment. Over a small sample size, his opponent has a lower VPIP and PFR than him. I think it’s safe to say that the overwhelming majority of the time, his opponent will be tighter and more passive with his Preflop 3-betting strategy. Having stats on your opponent indicating a Fold to Flop Cbet of 50% would be pretty useless if you only had a sample size of 2 (1 out of 2 times) but would be pretty useful if you had a sample size of 10 (5 out of 10 times). Use stats wisely and when in doubt, stick to the basic VPIP/PFR stats and make an educated guess about your opponent’s overall tendencies.

6. Lack of consistent logic in one’s thought process

I would say that I am really particular about having logical consistency in my arguments and thought process and I tend to get pretty tilted by people who do things that make no sense. A classic example of this is when someone tries to scrimp and save with coupons for chump change, but does hardly any research when he or she makes a major investment into stocks or perhaps even a house. I think the same can be said about poker – It’s important to think through each of your decision and make sure that what you are doing ultimately makes sense.

Earlier today, Daniel and I were reviewing some of his sessions and we came across this hand.

Example 6: Calling twice with 66

Preflop: UTG raises to 3BB, MP (Hero) calls with 66
Flop (7.5BB): 9d 7h 2h – UTG bets 5BB, MP calls
Turn (17.5BB): 4c – UTG bets 11BB, MP calls

I analyzed Daniel’s overall stats a few days ago, and noted that he was folding too little against Turn barrels over the past week (29%).

Me: You know, this is a really loose call.
Daniel: Is it? Villain open-raised in UTG and we can expect him to have a tight range comprising mostly Broadways. Such a range wouldn’t connect so well with this board and thus I decided to call the Turn again.
Me: I definitely agree that he has a tight range from this position. But wouldn’t that mean that his range would contain relatively fewer flush draws, and hardly any straight draws besides JTs?
Daniel: That’s kind of true.
Me: Over-pairs and sets also comprise a larger part of his overall range, which means that he has a stronger made hand pretty often.
Daniel: Yeah.
Me: Do you think that UTG would 2-barrel his overcards without a draw most of the time? Would you randomly double-barrel your overcards?
Daniel: Probably not.
Me: That’s why I think this is such a loose call on the Turn. Let’s analyze this spot further to find out. I’m going to assume that villain is barreling all flush draws and most straight draws, as well as his overpairs and sets.

Pot odds: 11/39.5 = 27.8%
Pot equity: 28.9%

Board: 9d7h2h4c
Equity Win Tie
MP2 28.87% 28.87% 0.00% { 66 }
MP3 71.13% 71.13% 0.00% { 99+, 77, 44, 22, A5s, A3s, JTs, T8s, AhKh, AhQh, KhQh, AhJh, KhJh, QhJh, AhTh, KhTh, QhTh, Ah9h, Th9h, Ah8h, 9h8h}

Pot Equity > Pot Odds BUT Hero still has to continue bluff-catching on the River. Because of this, he needs even more equity on the Turn to compensate for the times he is bluffed out of the hand on the River. He probably needs somewhere closer to 33-35% to justify a call here. Thus, this is a clear fold.

Me: What about 88 and 67s? Which do you think is the better hand to call a second time?
Daniel: Probably 67s.

88 has 28% equity, 67s has 32% equity. Hero should probably fold both of these two hands against a Turn barrel, and call top pair or better.

Work on these spots, avoid making the same mistakes that Daniel made over the past month, and you will be likely to experience a significant improvement in your win-rate.


2 comments for “Day 2 – How to Avoid Common Mistakes made by Micro-stakes Players

  1. areign
    March 3, 2015 at 11:39 am

    You have 7h in his range on lady one when it’s on the board

      March 3, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      oh yea that’s right, thanks for pointing that out

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