Editor's note: Nathan "Blackrain79" Williams has played over 6 million hands of online poker at the microstakes and boasts some of the most impressive winrates in the game.
In his new series on PokerListings.com Williams will be giving you the benefit of that experience, reporting from the microstakes on everything from the latest strategy trends to who's been winning the most money.
Today he kicks things off with the first in a beginner series on how to beat microstakes cash games.
For many people who begin playing online poker, the microstakes cash games are where they choose to start. These are among the most widely populated limits played on the internet, and for good reason.
You can cut your teeth in the game at a limited cost. Losing 5, 10, or even 25 bucks in a hand is not enough for most people to worry about. However, these limits are also widely played because many people get stuck playing them with breakeven or worse results for years.
Many people scoff at the idea of the micros being difficult but the reality is that online poker has changed a lot in the last 5 years and these games are not a walk in the park anymore.
However, they are definitely beatable. With the right approach and understanding of the fundamentals these games you can crush these games for some pretty outstanding winrates.
Suck-Outs Happen, Suck it Up
For many newcomers to the game, or those coming from live poker especially, I believe success first begins with an attitude shift towards a business-like approach to poker.
Bad beats happen to everyone. Yes, when you play 8 or 12 tables of online poker the suckouts will come faster than you can imagine. What else did you expect?
The single biggest issue that I see with the players at these limits that I work with is a seeming inability or unwillingness to trust the long term and trust the process.
For me personally after having played 6 million hands of online poker I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that trusting in the process really does work. I think a lot of people are looking for that magic pill to end all of their problems in poker.
They want to believe that the top players really are just super geniuses who are making sick river check-raise bluffs and owning everyone.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Trust the Process
The players who have won the most are generally the ones who grind it out day after day and stay consistent in their approach. They aren’t morons by any means but the secret to their success often doesn’t involve anywhere near as much fancy play and soul reading as is often thought.
They find ways to minimize tilt and they don’t jump stakes. How do they do this? Again, there really isn’t any secret formula that I can offer you. They just do it.
You take poker seriously and you don’t let the emotional swings of the game get to you so much. At the end of the day you are in control of your actions at the table. And if you truly want to succeed then you will find a way to stop spewing away money and stick to the game plan.
This doesn’t mean that if you learn to be an emotionless robot at the tables that you will instantly become the next online phenom. But this is half the battle for most people. And I should mention that it's a battle you can never fully win.
I believe that all players tilt to some extent and different personality types may have an easier time controlling it. But I think that when you truly commit to the long term process and seriously learn the fundamentals it isn't that hard to succeed, especially at the lowest limits.
Attaining this mature mindset towards the game really underpins everything and that’s why I chose to start off this series by emphasizing how important it is.
I've seen countless seemingly talented, smart, good players come and go all because they could not hold it together when the cards went bad on them. If this is you then all the expert theory in the world won’t help you. Get your mind right and succeed in poker.
Next time I will discuss a few of the essentials of winning at the micros such as a good HUD setup and table selection.
Click through here to read more on Nathan "Blackrain79" Williams' blog, and to buy a copy of his book: Crushing the Microstakes.