The other day I read a blog from someone warning us of the dangers of bluffing at the microstakes. In other words: don't ever do it because it never works. People simply are unable to fold any pair no matter how dangerous the board is for their hand, so don't bother. Actually, his exact words were "Bluffing in the micro stakes is pointless."

 

Well.... I don't think it's that simple.

At the microstakes, when you have played a few orbits in a cash game, you should be able to get a decent idea on the playing style of the opponents. And that's the point when you can decide on your plan of attack. And that plan of attack can include bluffs. To be honest, at most micro stakes cash game tables I've been at, it's the most important aspect of my plan of attack. And for me it works - I'm a winning player at these stakes having more than doubled my starting bankroll in just about 6,500 hands. In these 6,500 hands I'm winning 29 Big Blinds per hour of play, or 20 Big Blinds per 100 hands played. I'm no expert on cash games, but I do believe that's a decent profit ratio.

Just an example of my thought pattern in this matter:

Last week I was sitting at a table which was obviously way too tight. Not one or two, but every single player at the table was a nit. A big part of poker is to adapt your game to your opponents. The infamous 'play the player, not your cards'. And so I did. From the cut-off and button I started raising pretty much anything. Pretty much I said. I mucked the 8 3 offsuit, but I did play the 10 6 suited when it was folded to me. Whenever I got a call, it was just a matter of 'they most likely have a good ace or pair so let's see what happens'.  The flop comes, and if the flop was unlikely to have hit them, a simple continuation bet usually took it down. If they call the flop bet, I'm done. If they show any aggression, I'm done.

In a 9 man SnG, final three players, there was a similar scenario. When three-handed, playing like a total nit is bad. Fortunately for me, my opponents hadn't seen that lessen yet. Every time I was in the Big Blind, the button folded, the Small Blind limped and I just raised it up to get a fold. Six times in a row, it's almost to a point where it gets boring. And no, I did not have good hands those six times in a row. Sure, once I had AA, but the other five hands, well, not so much. And that may not be a cash game, but it's still micro stakes poker.

The moral of the story: bluffing works at all levels of play. It's just the kinds of bluffs that change with the skill level of your opponents. In the micro's, don't 4-bet or 5-bet expecting a fold. If they 3-bet you they have it. If they donk-bet into you on the flop, consider well your action, they usually have it. But if you run into the nuts, fire away with just about any two cards. Unless they have something they'll fold. Profitable in my experience. The only limiting factor is how nitty these people are, and how likely they are to pick up on what you're doing. Generally speaking, they are completely oblivious.

But be aware: the dynamics of the table can change a lot very fast. One new player who's above the level of the others, or one of them actually waking up can completely turn things around. Keep your eyes open, and adapt fast when you see the change in the game happen. Otherwise, the profitable session can quickly become a costly one. As I can also say from experience....

Blog post referenced: Blind Man's Bluff.