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Bluffing at the micro-stakes

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  • Bluffing at the micro-stakes

    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.

    The Road to Fame and Fortune - Keeping track of my poker semi-career
    Keep up to date: @Ov3rsight

  • #2
    good read... one edit. " when you run into the NITS" I dont think you should fire away when you run into the "nuts"
    May the tinfoil protect you. MT


    • #3
      great postumbup:umbup:umbup:
      Bracelet Winner


      • #4
        Very good post.umbup: The key is to recognize the table dynamics. If the table is way, way too tight, then I want to play the opposite (looser and bluff some). If the table is full of calling stations, then I don't want to be bluffing, as the opps will never fold. It looks like you pegged the table perfectly. Keep it up. John (JWK24)

        6 Time Bracelet Winner


        • #5
          this is sort of the thing i've been preaching since i started my blog on this site. i don't know what kind of wormhole i'm living in, but i've NEVER been on a table where every person at the table calls down with any pair all the way to the end. i think that was the state of poker 4+ years ago, but certainly not today.


          • #6
            [EDIT: double post]
            Last edited by ArtySmokesPS; Fri Nov 23, 2012, 06:49 PM. Reason: Posted twice by accident.
            Bracelet Winner


            • #7
              Stealing pre-flop and making c-bets is fine. Both those acts are usually semi-bluffs anyway, as you usually have equity (or the benefit of position) when you get called.
              What's not advised is 3-barrel bluffing post-flop versus calling stations, or making big bluffs on the river when you miss your draw. An awful lot of my profit comes from hero-calling against maniacs that spew post-flop. (They think poker is all about bluffing, because that's what's shown on TV).
              Playing ABC poker (betting when you have it, folding when you don't) is the low variance method of making money at the lowest stakes.

              You can certainly sometimes bluff post-flop at 2NL, but you have to pick good situations. Make sure your story makes sense. If you called on the button vs an early position raiser, then you can represent a flush/straight when the obvious draw hits and the nitty villain checks the turn after c-betting the flop, because suited connectors are a part of your range. If your post-flop action doesn't fit with your pre-flop action, and/or villain has no FOLD button, your bluffs will seldom work.
              Bracelet Winner


              • #8
                I thought this hand was a good example when to bluff at micro stakes: Villian had stats of 63% VPiP and 43 PFR. He'd been min raising to steal while pushing all in when he was stronger. I'd let him bully and steal my chips a few times before but crucially he stole when the blinds were lower. This is a good time to bluff. Villian could have any 2 cards but my call is the first alarm bell for him. My check raise is an indication I have something and my shove reinforces the play. I'm 90% sure he had something from the flop but he didn't know where he stood. He time banked my shove before folding. All those little steals from him were paid back plus interest. Sure I'll get caught at times and my tournament is over but I'll win far more than I'll lose in situations like this. Stone cold bluffing like this is over rated but you should never discount it. Semi Bluffing however should be a good portion of your play. It's just knowing when and where to use a bluff that is the key.
                Bracelet Winner


                • #9
                  Just watched the hand again and it's not a stone cold bluff but it is a semi bluff. I had the intention of playing the hand as a bluff before the hand started.
                  Bracelet Winner



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