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8 Micro Stakes Poker Questions | Q&A Podcast #246


Sky Matsuhashi

on July 15, 2019

Tons of micro stakes-related poker questions today… 8 of 'em covering bankroll rules, preflop choices, post-flop play and my study recommendations.

In case you missed episode 245, I discussed using micro stakes aggression in good and poor ways.


Q1: Micro Stakes Bankroll Rules (2:40)

From: Dr. Chauran via Twitter @DrAlexChauran

How do we know when to move up stakes? 

First: Bankroll Rules

Your bankroll for cash games = 40x the buy-in.  $200 bankroll = 40 x $5 buy-in’s, so you can comfortably play 5nl (.02/.05 games).

For MTT’s and SNG’s at the micro stakes, I recommend having a 100x the buy-in. So, for a $200 bankroll, you should be playing $2 tournaments.

Second: Taking Shots

Once you build up to 20% more than your necessary bankroll you can start taking shots.  One table or one tournament at a time at the next higher level.

For 5nl cash game players, once your roll reaches $240, you can take shots at 10nl. For a tournament player the same thing applies for you and you can start playing $5 tournaments at a bankroll of $240.

The goal behind taking shots is to give you experience playing at the next level while the majority of your play is spent at your current level. If you get lucky and earn some money, you’ll build your bankroll faster. If you get unlucky and lose one or two buy-in’s, you’ve still got more than the necessary 40 buy-in’s to play at your current stake.

Third: Moving up

You make the move to the next level once you reach 40 buy-in’s for cash games and 100 buy-in’s for tournaments. Prior to that, you’re constantly taking shots one cash game table or one tournament at a time to get you experience for your final move to the next level.


Q2: Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals (4:45)

From: Richard LeMasters

Do you use bit coin when playing on line, and if so can you make a recommendation on how to proceed?

Using Bitcoin makes it super quick to deposit and withdraw, and that's how I've been doing it for some time. It’s super easy to do on Americas Cardroom. My last withdrawal was about 2 months ago and I had the $1,000 in my account within 20 hours (if I recall correctly).

The first step is to buy Bitcoin. I purchase mine from It's a safe and secure site that lets you select the amount of bitcoin to purchase or the amount of $ you want to spend. And you simply make the purchase with a credit card.

Once you get your bitcoin you'll use your bitcoin wallet # at the ACR cashier to put money on your ACR account.

Bitcoin is the easiest way to deposit and withdraw on any poker site and Coinbase makes buying and selling bitcoin super easy. Use my Coinbase Friend Referral link (click the blue picture to the left) and we'll each receive a bonus $10 in bitcoin. Thanks for the support!



Q3: Playing Too Passively (6:25)

From: Joseph Sykes

He sent me two 2nl hand histories. In one hand, he cold called a 3bet from the SB with JJ, the other he called an open-raise in the CO with AQo. So, he’s a passive 2nl player with some of the strongest hands.

Passive play is like bingo poker; you’re just calling for the chance to hit something strong on the flop. Basically, you’re just hoping for luck.

In both of these hands, re-raising would’ve been the preferable play.

By cold 4betting with the JJ and the SB, you are showing incredible strength.  The player in the BB, the open-raiser and the 3bettor all need to hold a very strong hand in order to continue. You’ve got tons of fold equity on your side with this cold 4bet from this position. And if you get 5bet, depending on who made the play, it’s probably an easy fold vs their AA or KK.

And 3betting from the cut off with AQo is very likely going to put you in a bread-and-butter situation. The blinds don’t often call versus 3bets and that open-raiser in the MP is going to most likely call or fold. So, the most common flop situation you will face here is you will be in position, heads up as the preflop raiser. Poker doesn’t get more profitable than this situation.


Q4: Maximizing Value From Strong Hands (8:30)

From: Noah Heredia

One poker skill I want to improve is one maximizing value out of my best hands.

Going for value is an important skill. Two things I can recommend for you:

1. Start playing with your bet sizes in order to maximize value.Maybe you're so used to making 1/2 pot bets that you miss out on many 2/3, 3/4 or even full-pot+ value bets. Try out different sizes and see what your opponents are willing to pay you off with. Or maybe you have an issue with telegraphing your hand strength.  They're always folding when you have the nuts because you bet so big, but they call your smaller bets b/c you're weak. Go through hand histories and see if you're telegraphing your hand strength with your bet size.

2. Review every SD hand where you missed out on river value.Too many times we get to the river with a TP hand but check-behind because we're not sure if we're good or not. Filter for “won hand” and “checked river”. Start reviewing those hands from preflop through the river by putting your opponent on a range of hands preflop then narrow it through the streets.


Q5: Resuming Online Play (10:30)

From: Brad S.

It seems like a lot of what you promote in your book involves playing online. So, should that be my next move, start playing online again? And, is that ok to do? I saw that you are in CA also (I’m in the LA area), so I assume we can play online without an issue?

This isn’t legal advice.

I've never had an issue playing online since Black Friday. The only real concern is that the sites are unregulated, so they could pack up and leave, taking your bankroll with them. That's why I only play on sites that have been established and around for a long time. But, there's always a risk that they'll leave, so I keep a minimum bankroll on each.

Withdrawing from them is quick and easy with bitcoin, so I've never ran into any issues.

If you want to try out ACR, that's the one I would recommend. Start out at the $5 tables, and if you follow the 40x bankroll rule, that means you only need $200 on the site. There are plenty of fish who don't take it seriously and splash around a lot like you mentioned, but you can work on all your LIVE poker skills for much cheaper here.

Start your audiobook learning by picking up ‘Preflop Online Poker' through Click the pic above to begin your free 30-day trial (your first book is free) or to purchase the audiobook version if you're already a member.

Q6: Transition to NLHE online (16:05)

From: Chris Noel

I’m a small stakes limit HE player (.50/1.00 online, 4/8 live), and I want to transition to NLHE. I have modest goals: play with an edge in $1/$3 and occasionally play in good $2/$5 games, and to be profitable in online micro stakes.

My first forays have shown me I have a lot of learning to do. How should I prioritize the skills I’ll need to be successful? Ranges, bluffing, or ???

Here are my top three recommendations to begin improving your online micro stakes skills which will translate into improved LIVE skills.

1. Work on your preflop ranges. Your preflop hand selections set you up for either poker success or poker failure with every hand you play. There is a drastic difference between being the open-raiser on the button with Q9s and being the over-caller in the SB with Q9s. You need to work on understanding how your preflop hand ranges help to determine your potential post-flop profitability. I recommend checking out podcast episodes 90, 91 and 94 to help you with this.

2. Become a Bread & Butter Player. The Bread & Butter situation is the most profitable one to be in. This means that you are in position on the flop as the preflop raiser of against 1 or 2 other players. In order to be a Bread & Butter Player, you have to actively search for and put yourself in Bread & Butter situations as much as possible. This means open-raising, raising over limpers, making 3bets and 3bet squeezes every time it is a +EV situation to do so. Just like I said in that question from Joseph about playing to passively, raising gives you fold equity but also gives you Bread & Butter situations more often.

3. Purchase, study and use the strategies in my book Preflop Online Poker. This book teaches you everything you need to know about preflop poker and it gives you tons of ways to practice the various strategies I teach.

After these, you can work on other preflop strategies or move on to post-flop things like cbetting, check raising and post-flop that sizing.


Q7: Hand Reading (19:25)

From: Drew Sanders

Is hand reading necessary at the micro stakes?

I don’t think it’s necessary, but I do believe it’s incredibly helpful. It’s not necessary because at the micro stakes a lot of your opponents play their hands kind of face-up.

    • Passive players, like 40/10 or 25/4, will tell you that they have a very strong hand when they are betting and raising post-flop.
    • TAG players tell you they like their hand when they’re calling your bets and raises post-flop and making big bets/raises for themselves.
    • LAG players try to save money with their bluffs but start to bet slightly larger when they have a nice made hand.

If you pay attention to bet sizing, quite often you’ll get a good idea of the strength of your opponents hand.

But I do believe that hand reading is a skill that you should start working on as soon as possible, even at the 2nl level. You’re listening to this podcast because you want to improve your game, and that tells me you want to earn enough money to move up in stakes so that you can make even more money. The higher you go, the more logical and reasoned your decisions need to be in order to earn your opponent’s chips.

Hand reading allows you to use your logic, the type of player you’re up against and how they entered the pot to put them on a preflop range of hands. Based on their actions as the streets progress, we can narrow their range to help us make sense of their possible holdings. This allows us to make better decisions than somebody who is only considering their own 2 hole cards and the board at the time.

So, I recommend that you start your own daily hand reading practice like I showed you in my 66 Days of Hand Reading series of videos on YouTube.


Q8: Understanding My Statistics (21:40)

From: Tessa Carter

Thanks again for sending me the Smart HUD after I purchased PokerTracker 4 through you. But now I have a problem, I don’t know how to make heads or tails of the stats I’m collecting. I have 3000 hands and my VPIP is 35, PFR is 12, 3bet is 2% and cbet flop is at 60% and my cbet turn is at 22%. There are so many other stats as well that I wish I understood. How do I turn the stats into actions at the table?

2 parts to this answer:

1. Your Statistics

With VPIP at 35 and PFR at 12, this tells me that you are loose and passive player. You do more calling preflop than you do raising, and this probably translates into your post-flop a game as well. You didn't give me your fold to cbet stats, but my guess is that they’re pretty low on the flop and turn (maybe 35 to 50% on both streets).

But thinking about what you could do preflop, stop limping at all and reduce your calling especially out of the blinds. Voluntarily playing 35% of hands is way too loose to make profitable. So like I said in my answer to Chris about micro stakes skills to build, start working on your preflop hand selection to get you down to a VPIP at less than 20%.

Next, increase your 3betting percentage. To get you started doing this, look for 3betting opportunities for value and for bluffing in the CO and BTN. Once you get comfortable with 3betting out of these positions with slightly larger ranges, you can move to 3bet bluffing versus steals out of the blinds.

Lastly, your cbet the flop is at a good percentage (although I don’t know what types of hands your cbetting), but you need to increase your turn cbet. You are a “turn honest” player. This means that when you cbet the turn they know you have something very good. So, your opponents can call you every single time on the flop, and as soon as you check the turn, they can fire a bet because they know you don’t have anything good or else you would’ve double-barreled.

2. Understanding Statistics

Use the Statistical Tracker at the end of every week, or after every 2,000 hands.

You can utilize the Statistics menu within the Configure menu at the top of PokerTracker 4 to teach you the definitions and the formula for each statistic.

You can also use the statistics videos on the LeakTracker tab. Each of these videos give you important information to help you take action on how high or low statistics in comparison to the average winning player’s statistics.

As you track your statistics every week, look for fluctuations in the numbers. Maybe this past week you really worked on your preflop calling hands to get your VPIP down from 35%. Maybe your studies resulted in a drop from 35% is 28%. This indicates that you made some progress, but not enough to get down to 20%. So now you can go through your hands and filter for hands that you VPIP'd. Review these hands to see where you’re still calling too wide. I’m sure there’s plenty of poor calling hands like J8s, A7o and Q3s.


Learn how to interpret your statistics with the Get More From PokerTracker 4 Course:


Pick a Challenge (26:40)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  choose the answer to the most relevant question, and take action on it.  Figure out what you need to do to improve your skills around this answer.

Now it’s your time to shine!

Support the Show

Mark Batts picked up the best poker software, PokerTracker 4.  My favorite since 2006!  In appreciation, I sent Mark my Smart HUD for PT4.  Along with the growing database of hands to study, the Smart HUD is a powerful tool in anyone's poker toolbox.

Jonte Sutton purchased the Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4.  It's the best in the business, and you can get the Smart HUD by clicking here.

Bryan Richardson bought the PDF versions of How to Study Poker: Volume 1 and Volume 2.  You've got your work cut out with these, Bryan.  Good luck!


Sky Matsuhashi

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