6-Max Micro Stakes NLHE Strategy
6-max and full ring micro stakes tables are the most popular and active in every online poker room. These games are filled with everything from complete fish to regulars. There is a very distinct strategy in these games that is much different than what you will find in the small stakes and higher limit games. You will be able to effectively apply a strategy that allows for repetitiveness and consistency rather than the need to be creative or make plays. This is something that is generally a bad idea in poker, but online micro stakes games are one of the few areas where it makes sense. In other words, making a 5 bet bluff at 50NL is going to put you in a world of hurt 99% of the time, whereas it might be profitable at 400NL. Trying to play too tricky is one of the biggest downfalls for the majority of 6-max micro stakes players.
The pre-flop strategy in 6-max games calls for a tight approach with a fair amount of aggression mixed in. While you don’t want to be playing in every single pot, sitting on the sidelines is going to do nothing more than allow your bankroll to bleed. 6-max games are where you can profitably make a lot of steal attempts and re-raises to try and win without a contest. To aptly execute a steal or re-steal, however, you should understand which hands are ideal to make a play with, and just how much you should be raising to.
For steals, the first step is to ensure that the action has folded around to you. If there are a number of people who either limped in or raised the pot, you shouldn’t be trying to force the issue by stealing in late position. In these spots, the better play is to simply call (or fold) and move onto the next hand. The entire premise of a late position steal is that you only need to get through a handful of players, but stealing with limpers in the pot means that you will need to force additional folds.
For raise sizes, reduce the amount to a tad under your normal open. In other words, if you are on the button and would normally raise to $2 at 50NL, raise instead to $1.50 or $1.75. You will find that this works because most players who were going to fold to a $2 open raise will also fold to a $1.50 or $1.75 raise. Beyond this, if they end up re-raising you, it will save you a little bit of money. The difference between $2 and $1.50 or $1.75 might not seem like much, but it will definitely add up over time. As far as hand selection goes, look for any good suited hands, random aces, and so on and so forth. If you raise with anything stronger than this, it is for value and is not longer considered a steal attempt.
When you are dealt a strong starting hand (JJ+ and AQ+), the best plan of action is usually to play it fast. The issue with trying to slow play these hands or playing them in a tricky fashion is that a lot of players will limp in and put your hand at risk. You can’t assume that someone else at the table will open the action as is more likely to happen in a higher limit game. There is no need to mess around here and you should make significant raises to maximize value and weed out the stragglers. Don’t be afraid to add a little bit to your normal raise size when you have a super strong hand, either. Players who will call 4-5x bb opens are also likely to call an open raise of 6x big blinds.
Post-flop strategy in 6-max games allows for more aggression and creativity than pre-flop. Where everything is somewhat standardized and straightforward pre-flop, there are many different ways to play any given hand post-flop. With that in mind, you should have a general idea of what plays work and which plays don’t. For example, if you find that check raising with a big draw is seldom able to garner any folds, this is a play that you will want to abandon. The exact limits that you are playing at will play a role in what you can and can’t get away with. There is a somewhat significant difference between how players play at 25NL and the competition at 100NL.
In the micro stakes, you are going to run into a fair amount of players who can’t seem to ever locate the fold button. These are the guys who you want to both attack and stay away from. You should be looking to play in pots with calling stations when you make a hand, but avoiding them when you are weak. Calling stations love to pay everyone off, but they will crush you if you try to bluff them. A lot of people complain that calling stations make the games “hard,” but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, they make the game significantly easier.
Calling stations are a stepping stone to the most basic elements of winning strategy in 6-max micro stakes games. In the end, your goal should be to value bet as often as possible. Even players who wouldn’t be defined as calling stations are very much prone to calling you down much lighter than they probably should. As a result, it is much better to wait for made hands than it is to get tricky. With that said, however, there is still plenty of room for continuation bets and even the occasional double barrel. Be careful, though, as running a lot of big bluffs is the perfect recipe for disaster. The best micro stakes 6-max players adhere to strict tight aggressive style of play, but they know when it is time to put on the brakes. Aggression is great in these games; it is being able to draw the line between recklessness that will make you a winner.