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Micro-Stakes Minefield

I ended up playing a fairly decent session last night at Stars. I got owned by one particular player. He wasn't the best player at the table. In fact, he was the reason I happened to be sitting at the table in the seat to his immediate left. Unfortunately, he was the type of player that I always have trouble beating: loose-passive pre-flop, loose-aggressive post-flop. Obviously a strategy of "see flops cheap, hit a hand, and let Villain stack himself" works quite well against this type of Villain. But waiting for a hand can get pretty difficult when you're forced to fold hand after hand after hand to the constant barrage of  uber-aggressive betting.

One hand that really put me on tilt was an early hand that I played against this 60/0/9 player. At the time, I had very few reliable reads. I knew the Villain was very loose pre-flop and I knew that his small river bets were probably bluffs. I'd seen three examples of small river bluff bets in the last orbit. One such bluff was attempted in a hand against me where the Villain folded when I raised his small river bet ($2 into $36).  He folded getting more than 8:1 on his call.

One orbit later, I found myself in a blind versus blind battle against this Villain. Villain limped in SB and I checked my option with a garbage hand. The Villain bet the flop and turn and I called him down with a hand that played well against his range of betting hands. And then the river card came. It gave me a very good hand but not quite the nuts. And then the Villain instantly open-shoved for 120BB into a 14BB pot. The action was on me: call or fold?

Had I known more about the Villain at the time of this hand, I would have snap-called his river shove, high-fived my wife, and then gone to Disney World. But at the time, my read on the Villain was: "plays lots of hands passively post-flop, likes to take small shots at the pot, and makes small bluff bets on the river". I had no idea what to do when the Villain was willing to bet 8x pot on the river.

I chickened out and folded. At the time, it seemed reasonable. In hindsight, it really hurts to think that I folded my hand against this Villain in that spot. And I guarantee that this is a fold that very few, if any, micro-stakes NLHE players would ever, ever make...and probably correctly so.

What makes this hand really stick out is that it sort of put me on "take-a-stand" tilt.  My weak-tight fold started to fester inside me.  And my game only deteriorated as the Villain proceeded to take another 100 BBs off me in a few more hands before finally sitting out and leaving.

This is why I've had difficulties beating no-limit hold'em.  The range of skill and knowledge from one micro-stakes player to another is enormous. You never know if a particular Villain's check means weakness or an absurdly played monster hand just waiting to "LOL" stack you (i.e. when opponent types in "LOL" after all the money's gone in and he's holding the slow-played/slow-rolled nuts). Opponents consistently under-betting or over-betting pots. Players taking strange lines, making bizarre bluffs, and inadvertently turning their made hands into bluffs on the river.

Poker's a crazy game at times. I've still got a lot to learn...

Have a great weekend!


Matthew Rosenthal said...

Are you done playing omaha hi/lo this year? Admittedly, i play smaller stakes than you, but it seems like you can make some good coin if you are a tight aggressive player. Just my two cents.


Klopzi said...

Matthew -

No - I'll keep playing Omaha Hi/Lo when the mood strikes. Micro-stakes O/8 is a great game to play when you're just looking to relax...especially after a few drinks.

The TAG strategy hasn't worked out for me yet. Then again, I probably play a little too loose in some spots and too tight in other spots. That's why I'll be sticking with the 0.25/0.50 full-ring games until I've figured out how to crack these games.