As you begin to play 25NL and 50NL you will start to notice a big increase in aggression by your opponents. This is combated by upping your own aggression but also picking good spots. You do not want to be a complete spazz or spew your chips all over the place. Players at these limits often overestimate the skill level of the other players. This is a major mistake as you need to have a strong grasp on who you are dealing with, this becomes increasingly important as you continue to move up in limits.

The first step to beating 25NL and 50NL is understanding how to implement the skills you have developed at the lower limits while also learning how to adjust to the new games. It is not a quantum leap, most times when you move up a limit it is a small step. Do you understand what a 3-bet is? How about stealing the blinds, proper raise sizes preflop and solid hand selection? If you can say yes with confidence to all of these you should be able to beat 25NL and 50NL.

First up is the 3-bet, if you do not know what a 3-bet is or how it is utilized take a look at this article, “3-Betting and Re-stealing”. At 25NL and 50NL you will need to be able to use a 3-Bet to steal blinds and to gain an advantage post-flop. Being the aggressor pre-flop will allow you to have the upper hand when it comes to playing the flop, turn, and river. As the pre-flop raiser you are more likely to be given credit for a strong hand, and this benefits you not only on the flop but if you plan to double barrel on the turn as well. What types of hands should you be 3-betting with? From early position your 3-betting range should be very small, AK, QQ, KK and AA. As you move to later position play you will be able to widen your 3-betting range to include hands like TT, JJ, and AQ. This is of course basic 3-betting strategy and assumes that the game is not so difficult that you need to add in 3-bet bluffs or semi bluffs with hands like 8s 9s.

When do you give up pre-flop and what should be an all in hand pre-flop? Generally speaking QQ, KK, AA and sometimes AK are the only hands you should be getting in pre-flop. Even AK is a “sometimes only” type all in hand. If you are playing at a tightish table and get 4-bet with AK you can make the fold and feel pretty good about it. Getting 4-bet with QQ is a throw up type situation. It is not a clear all in or a clear fold. You almost have to call and pray. If I had to pin a number on the amount of times you will be good with QQ all in pre at 25NL or 50NL I would say it is around 55%-60%. You are not crushing anyone’s hand ranges with QQ unless they are very loose, think about it, how often do you see players get JJ all in preflop?

After you have pre-flop understood to the point where you can identify good spots to 3-bets and when to fold or go all in if 4-bet you are pretty much set to beat 25NL and 50NL, but you should start to be able to play moderately well post-flop. The biggest difference between winners and losers at the higher limits will be who can win more hands without getting to showdown. Sometimes players master getting to showdown and having the best of it every time, but most will play well enough post-flop that they take down the pot without seeing a showdown.

It is highly advocated that you learn to c-bet on the proper boards and give up on certain flops. Say you raise pre-flop with AQ in position and get one caller. The board comes 7s 10c 4s and he checks. It would be your best bet to check it back. You have to consider a few things when determining whether to bet or fold a flop. What better hands will he be folding if you c-bet? Small pocket pairs? Maybe. AK, AT, 89 or any two spades? No. The types of hands he would fold would be random connectors, but he is unlikely to have that type of hand there. He might, but not nearly enough to make a c-bet.

If the flop had a few paint cards it would be more acceptable to make a c-bet in that spot, though a check back would still be fine. If an ace or queen came I would check back the flop and play the turn and river for value. It really is not that complicated if you just take a step back and think “What hands will he fold, what hands will he call with?” If you have a strong hand you want him to have a wide range of hands that he would call with to make a bet, if you have a weak hand you want him to have a wide range of hands he would fold with.

Another important aspect of post-flop play at 25NL and 50NL would be double barreling. Double barreling is when you bet the flop with nothing and bet again on the turn with nothing. Double barrels should be made sparingly at these limits as many players still can’t locate the fold button. Make solid c-bets, but you can usually give up on the flop if you get called with a weak hand.

Once you are able to understand and apply these concepts you will be able to beat the micro stakes with ease.