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Strategy for Crushing the No Limit Texas Holdem "Online Penny Poker" Games

By Greg Mallon
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PART 3 of 4

Who is Your Competition at the Micro Limits?

While some of the players at the .01/.02 no limit stakes are actually quite good, a number of them make common fundamental mistakes. We will go over these common mistakes so that you do not make them. Just so you understand how sophisticated some of your opponents are, check out this "chat" I recorded at the penny tables. This kind of dialog is not uncommon, even at the micro levels.

ABlufferIsMe: I'm not coaching you, just saying that particular call was mathematically wrong..
SuitedPairAA: you could go ALL IN with 27 os and hit and it would be called a perfectly good play by you
franksteroo: he won't admit to it but the even more stupid mistake was me calling but I overstimated his play based on his calling, this is typical of how you get beat by bad players on the river, had it been a bad player, I would have layed it down
afox: implied odds (eventual odds) made it right
ABlufferIsMe:: you needed him to call a bet 12.5x the turn bet in order to break even. those are bad implied odds.
franksteroo: well afox, no direspect but that's what we're telling you, it didn't make it right
afox: it was CHEAP and after I caught he paid me BIG compared to the pot
franksteroo: you didn't have the odds
SuitedPairAA: no matter what he does he wont be wrong...you cant tell him ****...wasting your time
ABlufferIsMe: you didn't get him to call a bet 12.5x the turn bet. therefore, that was a bad call mathematically.
ABlufferIsMe:: I'm gonna stop arguing now.
franksteroo: there is no question of cheap or not if you are talking of odds, stick to odds
afox: you are talking POT odd I am talking EVENTUAL (implied) odds of what you will call if I hit
afox: I was right and you paid me
ABlufferIsMe: afox.. did you read my explanation? you did not have implied odds.
franksteroo: well you have to compare the two to make your decision you can't go calling anything based on 8% eventual odd
ABlufferIsMe: it wasn't 8%. it was 4%.
afox: him and his buddy Suited both lost bonehead calls to me
franksteroo: after the flop, 8%?
ABlufferIsMe: oh, right.
ABlufferIsMe: thought you were talking about after the turn.
ABlufferIsMe: but he had the two pair draw on the flop. so he was ~16% then.
ABlufferIsMe: turn paired the board, so he was only drawing to a boat.
franksteroo: after the flop I made the 50% pot bet to see where I stood so he called
rudra: I don't care about the odds, it's just wrong to call with 74
Dealer: Game #3673288354: franksteroo wins pot ($0.08)
afox: do you think I play that way when I play 2/4 and 3/6?
ABlufferIsMe: does my logic not make sense? you were 25-1 to hit, getting 2-1 odds, so you had to get him to call 12.5x the turn bet to break even by implied odds. therefore, it was a -EV call.
afox: wrong
afox: I had to get him to call the RIVER if I hit
franksteroo: calling anything with 7-4 is wrong to me, but that's just me
ABlufferIsMe: I analyzed your turn call in relation to your river play.
ABlufferIsMe: 12.5x15=1.87
ABlufferIsMe: you won 1.50 on the river.
afox: my river play made all rounds before correct
ABlufferIsMe: you didn't cover the 12.5-1 odds. so it didn't make the previous plays correct.
rudra: Since when does a good river play make up for idiot play every other round?
ABlufferIsMe: afox. true or false. your river winnings did not cover your implied odds.
ABlufferIsMe:: how is 4% to hit better than a random hand? I'm confused.
afox:: did you see how those 2 were playing with top pair and over pairs?
ABlufferIsMe: no. that was one of the first hands I saw.
afox: trust me...suited had a stack by betting preflop and betting bigger on the continuation

As you can see by the above chat (at a ".01/.02" table), many of the players think way beyond "simple play". These kinds of debates are actually quite common, even at the micro-stakes. What I have come to realize is that most of the players who play for money have above average intelligence. That said, they also have many misconceptions about what is correct and incorrect (and thus play badly), but as you can see they certainly put some thought into it.

Your Goals

Your goals are not to win tons of pots, not even really to win money, but to make good decisions each and every time. That is your main focus. The money will take care of itself. Using my micro-stakes strategy, you are NEVER pushing marginal hands and trying to squeeze out every last possible cent, you are however, looking for profitable situations where you are in position to take your opponent's entire stack. This is one thing I have learned from studying many of the successful online players of today. The strategy of many of these players is to look for situations where you can win an entire stack, not simply a small pot here and there.
  • To reduce variance by multi-tabling and playing VERY tight
  • To always look to play from superior position, unless you are looking to "flop a set" (in which case you will be looking to get all your opponent's money in the pot when you hit your set)
  • Position

    If you consider yourself a good online texas holdem player, you are well aware of the value of "position" in the game. To consistently make money playing texas holdem, you must understand the benefits of playing hands from superior position. So what does "having POSITION" on your opponent mean? It simply means you are "last to act" when people are taking turns betting at the table. Ideally, you want to always act LAST. There are a few forms of poker where the first player's turn (and therefore the last player's turn) is dependent on the "up cards showing". Fortunately, you do not have to worry about this in texas holdem. At every round of betting, it is "known" who will be "first to act" and who will be last to act". In texas holdem, the player on the button will ALWAYS be "last to act" after the flop, turn and river. Texas Holdem (online poker specifically) is a game of incomplete information, so being able to act "last" means that you will have more information about what your opponent's intentions are before you have to make a critical decision.

    A key part of my strategy requires that you pay attention to your position at all times when deciding whether to enter the pot. That is, before you decide you will even PLAY THE HAND, you will check your position. Since you will be multi-tabling, this is one of the "first" things you look for when your turn "pops up" at a table. Where are you? Are you early, middle, or late? Since you will be ultimately playing multiple games, you may be making a decision pre-flop, post-flop, post-turn, or after the river.

    Some of the hands I allow you to play require that you be "ON THE BUTTON" (that is LAST to ACT). Other hands may allow you to play "one off the button" (known as the cut-off position). Most of the hands you fold will be folded because they are considered "marginal" and you will be "out of position" meaning your TURN is "early in the betting process". What we are trying to avoid is calling a small bet and then having to FOLD.

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