BlackRain79 Monthly Poker Strategy Q&A: "Never, Ever Limp Preflop"

Nathan Williams
One of the most experienced micro-stakes pros in the world is here to answer your strategy questions.

Nathan “BlackRain79” has played millions of hands of online poker and is sharing his experience by answering reader's strategy questions on PokerListings.

In the last month the questions have poured in via comments and social media. We compiled the best and sent them to Williams who lives in Thailand playing online poker professionally.

What follows are valuable insights built on BlackRain's years of online poker experience.

BlackRain will be answering a new set of questions and analyzing poker hands every month on so leave your questions in the comments at the end of the article, or send them to us on Twitter or Facebook.

Nathan Williams is the author of the wildly-popular Crushing the Microstakes, the definitive guide to the lowest stakes in online poker. Williams is dropping the sequel soon.

Microstakes Poker Hand Analysis: To Limp or Not to Limp?

Q: Hero is playing .05/.10 four-handed with fairly passive players. Average-sized stacks all around.

Action folded to hero on the button who picks up pocket kings. Is this an easy limp?

Always confused by this spot and the choice between trying to build a pot or letting opponents catch up on the flop.

BlackRain79: You should always raise here pre-flop. This is especially the case when playing against passive players.

pocket kings
You should never limp preflop, especially with pocket kings.

This is because you can’t build a pot without putting in the money yourself. Passive players don’t like to bet. You have to do it for them.

Furthermore, you should always raise pre-flop when entering the pot in literally any situation be it 4-handed, 9-handed or heads up. Having the betting lead is one of the fundamental keys to winning at poker because it simply gives you more ways to win the pot.

You can either take it down by forcing the other player to fold or showdown the best hand. Preflop callers only have one way to win the hand - show down the best hand.

BlackRain79 Answers Your Poker Strategy Questions

Potshipper: Is it standard to open-limp with pocket aces when you are three or four-handed?

BlackRain79: No, it is very standard to raise with them. I actually suggest almost never limping at all in poker no matter the situation.

Fishbot: Would you suggest playing 6-max or Full Ring at the micro-stakes?

BlackRain79: You should just play whichever one is more fun for you. Always remember that this is just a game at the end of the day and what will keep you motivated and excited to play each time is having fun.

Lingling: Any suggestions about a very good PokerTracker?

BlackRain79: I personally use Pokertracker 4. I think it is the best product on the market right now. Hold’em Manager 2 is great as well though. You honestly cannot go wrong with either.

Blackrain79 Bike
When not answering poker questions BlackRain79 can be found on the beach in Thailand.

Jack Bauer: Why did you not move up in the limits?

BlackRain79: Well, first off I did. I have a lot of experience playing all the way up to NL200. I went back up and down throughout the years though depending on how I felt about the game at the time and where my bankroll was at.

I ultimately found myself happy a lot of the time just mass grinding the lowest stakes with almost no variance at all.

Deadman Sand: Does PokerTracker make all hand analysis redundant?

BlackRain79: No it actually helps with that because you have tons of information about the players involved to consider as well.

VD: Currently I play about 120 hours NL10 Zoom per month (moderate success – win rate: 1.5 bb / 100).

How much time should I spend on improving my game and analyzing my opponents? Or should I just go for more volume?

BlackRain79: It depends entirely on your goals in the game but that is a decently high level of volume already. I would probably spend any additional time trying to get better and move up.

bbk: What sort of winrate do you need grinding the microstakes to live well (comparatively) in Thailand?

BlackRain79: It depends what limit you play at and your level of volume. In Thailand as a single guy you can get by pretty comfortably with 1k USD a month. A lot of people do it for less than this in fact.

Wayne Flopski: Considering how nitty games are is it profitable it to bluff a lot of turns and river?

BlackRain79: Yes it is. I would actually say that this is where some of the biggest profit sources come from at the micros these days. As always though it is all dependent on the player you are up against and the situation. There are still many players who will just call you down without thinking.

Les Schwab: Is it actually worth making notes of certain weaker players in the microstakes?

BlackRain79: I don’t think it is worth the time. Especially at a card room like Pokerstars the player pool is so big that you might not even ever see them again. Also, usually your notes have no sample size. He might do the exact opposite thing next time.

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BlackRain79 2014-08-18 14:16:21

Sorry guys, I just saw these comments now.

@rekitE I don't play much Zoom/Rush. I think the games are better at the regular tables due to the ability to table select.

@Andrew I prefer a tighter range than most people when opening from the SB. Not too tight but not 50% of hands like some people. The reason why is because good players will just 3Bet the crap out of you these days if you open this wide. Or they will call and use position after the flop to take it away. This situation is almost 100% dependent on who is sitting in the BB though so my range will still vary widely here.

rekitE 2014-06-05 12:19:22

What are your thoughts on Zoom/Rush and how much of your schedule does it make up?

Andrew Peerson 2014-06-05 12:04:02

What's your view on blind on blind battles in the micro-stakes? Quite often I'll make a standard bet from the small blind with a decent hand and get raised, especially by big raises that are 4-5X my bet. Not sure where I am at that point. Do the majority of players defend for the sake of it? Easy fold or should I be calling or raising?


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