Everybody has to start somewhere, and for many people in online poker that place is the microstakes. The lowest limit on any site is .01/.02, with microstakes topping out at .25/.50. The microstakes are the easiest limits to beat, contrary to what some people may think. I have heard many online players ramble on that they can’t win because “the donkeys never fold.” Well, that makes no sense. Why not just keep betting with good hands (because they won’t fold anyway) and cut out all the bluffs? This is where we will start.

Never bluff when you are playing microstakes poker. Bluffs are to be made against players that are capable of folding, and let me assure you that plenty of microstakes players don’t know where the fold button is. Sure, you may occasionally be able to pull off a bluff, but those times will be far out numbered by the times where your all in on the river was called by pair of 2′s. You can make a continuation bet (making the first bet on the flop) to try and take down the pot, but if you are called and the turn does not help you, give up. At the microstakes players are thinking on “Level 1″. Level 1 is thinking about your cards only with total disregard for what cards are on the board and what cards your opponent might have. You can probably see why this type of thinking will prevent you from executing a successful bluff. Even if there are four spades on the board, your opponent is still thinking “I have pocket kings!”, instead of “My opponent might have a flush.”

Cutting bluffs out of your game is crucial for beating microstakes specifically, but the next rule can be applied at all limits of poker. Never, ever, ever open limp. To open limp is to just call the big blind with no action in front of you. Be the aggressor! Raise instead of limping into the pot. Maybe you will win the hand before you see a flop, maybe some players will call, or you might even get re-raised. All of these results help use more than limping into the pot would.

Say you make a raise preflop, and one or more players call. Now you can say that they likely have a decent hand. Once the flop comes you will be at an advantage simply because you took the initiative preflop. You can make a continuation bet and be given credit for the hand (if the players are aware enough that you were the preflop raiser) or you can make a bet with a hand that was improved on the flop. At worst you make a continuation bet with a mediocre hand and get called or raised, but at best you bet with a great hand and get called or raised. The bet you make on the flop, followed by your opponents action will allow you to make an easier decision simply because you raised preflop. If you are raised on the flop and have nothing, its an easy fold, if you are called and have nothing, it’s an easy turn check. Maybe you flopped a solid hand, then your preflop raise benefits you even more. You have a solid hand, bet the flop and get called…perfect, now you can bet on the turn and river and get the most value out of your hand. Say you get raised, thats even better because now you have a fantastic hand AND your opponent has a hand that they are willing to raise with. If you feel you have the best hand you can effectively go all-in and get called by worse hands.

Now that you have cut bluffs out of your game and are being an aggressive player, you need to be smart. Your hand ranges for beating microstakes should be pretty tight, no need to make anything too complex when playing lower limits. Play pocket pairs, any two face cards, and a few solid suited connectors, like 8 9 and 10 J. Be a smart AND aggressive player, one is useless without the other. Pick your spots carefully, and don’t try to win every hand as there will always be plenty of hands (and money) to be made at the microstakes.