I've written on this many times in the past (here, here, here, and here, for instance), but it was still validating to read Blackrain's recent post on his 3 secrets to success at the microstakes tables: Fold, Value Bet, and Don't Bluff.
Yep, that's most of what it takes to earn a solid profit at these stakes (yes, you also need to manage your bankroll, don't tilt, pay attention, etc...) but assuming you have these basic emotional discipline things down, the technical secrets to success are really just three:
- Fold. The most important secret in life and war and poker is to pick your battles. This means you should play a very selective (read: positionally-aware) game. This in turn means you should be folding tons. Both preflop and postflop. When in doubt, fold. Don't know where you are in the hand? Fold. You're in early position? Fold. Have any question whether you should a play a hand or not? Fold, fold and fold some more.
- Value Bet. The biggest leak in most microstakes players' games is that they violate the first rule: Fold. This means they're playing too many hands. They want to see flops. They want to get to showdown and see if they've won. They're calling stations.... and we all know the way to beat calling stations is to punish them with your value hands. Bet, bet, and bet some more when you have a strong hand. Otherwise? Yep, fold.
- Don't Bluff. The corollary to value betting a calling station is to not try to bluff them. Ever. Remember, a bluff is basically a bet from you that is intended to convince the other guy that he's beaten and should fold. This presupposes the villain is actually paying attention to what you're doing and knows where the fold button is located. Most microstakes players are level-1 loose-passive calling fish. You cannot bluff this type of player. So don't try.
Monsieur and I are still grinding our way through the early level-1 preflop hand selection lessons, but almost everything we've done thus far is centered around these things: play a tight, positionally-aware game that is based primarily on value situations, with little to no bluffing. That's it.
All-in for now...