Some cut-out-and-keep pointers for micro-limit NL
(This is a post I wrote a while back which I hope will be useful for newcomers to micro-stakes NL. It should be useful up to 25NL, but it's specifically aimed at the player of a few weeks' experience who understands the basics but doesn't know much strategy. I hope you enjoy it)
Play full ring (10-handed) for now. On these tables you will almost never be playing marginal hands - you need to be sure that your overall number of hands played (not including the big blind) is no more than 20%. Absolute minimum pre-flop raise percentage should be 5% - between 5 and 10 is ideal. Over 10 is probably unwise as your post-flop skills are unlikely to be well enough developed; under 5% and you're going to be letting too many drawing hands into the pot and not being paid off enough when you do hit decent hands.
At $10NL you need to up your PF raise amount to at least 5x + 1x per limper. It's easiest if you keep your raise amount the same every time, as it doesn't give away clues as to the strength of your hand, and it helps it become automatic.
The nature of no-limit means that you can lose in one hand what you might have expected to win in the entire session (or more). That's how it goes; if you can't handle this, then move to limit - this isn't a snidey remark; it's important to know you have the fortitude to take the inevitable lost stacks.
You need to watch your expectations; 30BB/100 (with BB = 2x big blind) isn't possible outside the short term; 20BB/100 is JUST about possible if you play flawless poker; 10BB/100 is about the area you should be aiming at. Even 5BB/100 is solid, winning poker. Which equates to, yes, $1 per 100 hands. Those are the stakes your playing at - don't allow yourself to get impatient about making $$$.
I hope you're also aware of the long term nature of the game. One thing that ALL beginners do is rejoice if they make $20 one day and sob if they lose $15 the next. But - overall that means you've made $5! Which is what a very good player at this limit can expect to make in 250 hands! But! judging it after 2 sessions is just as bad! Statistics that indicate success or failure at poker only start to have meaning when you've played AT LEAST 10,000 hands - that's the figure you'll see on this site when people do check-ups, posting their stats for other people to look at. But even then, 10k hands is very much short term. It is perfectly possible for a very good player to be down over 10k hands.
Let's break it down even further - let's say we want to look at our stats with AA. Well, in 10k hands you can expect to be dealt AA forty-five times. But we've already discussed that TEN THOUSAND hands is a poor sample - so forty-five is an almost worthless one!
To illustrate: let's say that the first 44 of these hands return a BB/hand of 5 (which is about normal for a decent player). At $10NL, this equates to $44. Then, you receive AA on hand 45. You have a big stack - say $20, thanks to previous good play - and so does the villain. he pushes pre-flop - yes! - and you call gleefully. But this time, his QQ hits a Q on the river and he takes you down.
Suddenly, your $44 has become $24 and your 5BB/hand has become 2.7BB/hand. On the turn of a single card! Clearly you haven't become half as good in the blink of an eye - it's just that the statistical pool is too small and as a result, blips like this will skew the figures. In the long term, you'll be fine, assuming you play well, so don't let yourself be either upset or overly confident by short terms losses or gains.
Betting - as a rule, make sure your bets are between 50% and 100% of the pot. You seem aware of the pot already, which in itself is something a LOT of $10NL players don't realise - they see bets in terms of absolute sizes, as if a $1 into a $1 pot and $1 into a $9 pot are equivalent.
The 50-100% rule is very straightforward - it gives drawing hands bad odds, but it doesn't overcommit you to pots where you might already be behind, and it doesn't push out all the weaker hands you WANT to call your bets. Personally, I tend to bet in the 2/3 - 3/4 range (this is at the $50NL/$100NL level) - at $10 I might bet a bit bigger because drawing hands have less of a clue about odds. So pot size is fine, but you might want to tailor it down slightly. Remember, only bet bigger or smaller than the 50-100% range when you have a specific read or specific play in mind - maybe you have a boat and want flush draws to stay in, or maybe you're playing a calling station who'll call any size bet when you have the nuts.
All-ins - you will have to do this from time to time, and you ain't going to win them all! The key rule here is try and make as many of your all-ins as possible YOUR moves rather than the villain's - this way, you are forcing them to make tricky decisions, which may well lead to a fold, rather than the other way round. You should only be calling an all-in with either the near nuts, or with a good hand against a player where you have a very strong read that they are bluffing or overbetting a marginal hand.
As for bluffs - at $10NL it tends to be pretty easy to spot the bluffers, because they usually overdo it. Most players - and I'd say at least 80% - play very "honest" poker - they bet with good hands, check with bad hands, and if they raise, they have a monster. So it's easy to spot the players who are betting and raising every hand they're in - feel free to be cautious and aware for a few hands while you get y0ur read, then BAM - let them make a move and re-raise them/call their all-in with your set.
The higher you go, the narrower the band of play tends to become - you'll still get loose and tight players, passive and aggressive ones, but the extremes are fewer and the maniacs will be the ones playing 45/25 rather than 90/50 (that's hands played %/hands raised PF %). But you don't need to worry about that for the moment!
Anyway, this is just a few random thoughts - hope it's useful.