When you start in online poker, play the very low stakes, $0.01/$0.02, No Limit Holdem ring tables on PokerStars. There is a lot of money to be won at these tables because of all the inexperienced players that play at such low levels. Here is a guide to help players starting out at these tables hopefully win some money.
This is the most important tool while playing any type of poker, epecially at these low stakes ring tables. Many people who play at these penny tables play every hand since it is so cheap. Just because it is cheap to see the flop, doesn’t mean you are not losing money. Again, the main thing at these tables is to make money. If you play almost every hand, you might get lucky once in a while, but you will end up losing more money than you make.
Like previously mentioned, don’t play every hand you are dealt. Of course play the premium hands like AA, KK, and AK, and of course fold crap hands like 72, but you should widen you starting hands just a little bit. You might want to give a look at A9s and below. The main focus with these types of hands is to see the flop as cheap as possible. Try not to call any raises with hands like these.
Also, play high suited connectors, like 89s. Again, try not to call raises with these hands. With such low blinds, you will be able to play more hands, but don’t play too many and don’t call any large raises with hands that aren’t the best.
Finally try to play almost all pocket pairs. A lot of people don’t really like playing hands like pocket 2s, but at low stakes, give them a shot at a cheap flop. Of course, like all moderate hands, don’t call and large raises.
Don’t be afraid to bet large, but really try not to bet large without a very good hand. The best way to play is to not raise preflop with many hands at all. A lot of people don’t do this, but just calling the bets preflop with AK can be tries. Usually don’t raise with pocket pairs of 9s or lower. This is because you don’t really want to be putting in more money than necessary before the flop when after the flop you might not even have a chance at winning.
At the low stakes tables, I like to 4BB with hands like AA or KK. With QQ, push a little harder since it is easier to be beaten and you would want to eliminate the drawers. After the flop, go with the hand. If you have a decent hand, bets of even increments work best, such as betting 1BB on the flop, 2BB on the turn, and 3BB on the river (if you still have a good hand).
If you feel you have the best hand, continually raise your bets after each round. This makes you hand seem even stronger. Don’t be afraid to bet, raise, or fold. Remember, you are never pot committed until you are all-in. You can always fold and wait for another hand.
Study your opponents. It is essential in making money. You need to know how you opponents play. Take notes!
If you are playing on PokerStars then use their tool of note taking. It is very useful. If you play a fair amount of poker at the same type of tables, you will see players more than once. It is useful to just read you quick notes when you see a player at your table that you have played before. Again, study your opponents. The way they bet is the greatest tell.
Some, not all of course, bet the same way with basically the same types of hands. In no limit, it is much easier to see the bets. Some players will bluff the flop a lot. Usually these bluffs are big bets, maybe 4BB. These players will do this over and over again. Also, study your opponents bets throughout the hand.
Usually if a player has a good hand, they will continually raise their bets. If a player starts out with strong bets, then some ‘scary’ cards come, like high cards, sometimes players will drastically lower their bets. If you feel you have a good read on this player, an over the top bet could be a good bluff. Of course, if the player calls a large bluff or reraises, you should back off and either fold or check if possible. A lot of the times, though, this is a good way to steal a pot, which leads to the next section.
Bluffing and Stealing Pots
Stealing pots is one of the best ways to increase your money. All of the small pots that you can possibly steal can really add up. Even just taking the blinds is a nice steal. Don’t do this way too much because it will become obvious what you are doing and you will end up getting caught.
Bluffing is a big part of low stakes tables, especially in no limit where it is much easier to bluff. Bluffing is a difficult thing to do, like in all poker. You want to bet just enough that you think will be too much for the other player(s) to call, but you don’t want to bet so much that you really can’t afford to lose. At the low stake tables, there is a ton of bluffing.
You need to get in this because it is hard to make a decent amount of profit from just good hands because a lot of the times you flop the nuts, you won’t get any calls and only win a small pot. If you feel your opponents are weak, bluff the pot and try to steal it. If you bluff with a high bet and are called, especially by more than one person, you should probably stop bluffing and just check and fold.
Also, if you bluff and someone reraises, you should fold. A big thing to avoid is all-in bluffing. This is way too risky because some people don’t mind calling. These players call because they can re-buy. Its not like in a tournament where if you call and lose, you are out, so many people will call with the so-so hands, like a high pair. And remember that you are trying to win the hand. Even if you just win a small pot, you still won the hand. Don’t get too greedy and end up screwing yourself. If neccessary, take down the pot, even if you have a good hand, try to take it down and win, because winning is the reason you play.
Calling and Chasing
Calling and chasing are the two things that eat away your money.
First of all, don’t call with a low or middle pair. These hands will almost always lose and they will just lose you money. Unless you feel your opponents are very weak and your small pair is the best, fold it. Try not to call large raises preflop (like a 5BB raise).
The player that raised preflop will bet after the flop almost every single time (continuation bet), and usually very high. If you don’t hit a good hand on the flop, you will be almost forced to fold. If you are in a situation like this and you don’t hit the flop, fold your hand.
Also, don’t call with just high cards. AK seems like a good hand before the flop, but if the flop comes all low cards, you are probably beat. If there is some betting going on, don’t call hoping that you will hit one of your high cards. Fold it and save your money. This leads to chasing.
Chasing is a great way to lose your money. Usually, you won’t hit your draw. And it seems like a lot of times you are chasing a draw, the bets are pretty high. Unless it is an amazing draw and you can see the turn and river for very cheap, fold it. Great draws are like high open-ended straight draws, nut flush or very high (like king or queen high) flush draws, and straight flush draws. Avoid going all-in on draws. You will usually lose.
slow playing can be very profitable at low stakes, but don’t do it too much as it can actually end up hurting you. But a lot of times it is a great way to play. You might not want to slow play 2 pair, because they are easily beaten. Also, don’t slow play too much a flush with low cards (like you have 56s) or a straight when you have the low end of it (like you have 56 and the board shows 7 8 9, the so-called idiot side of the straight). These hands you could get beaten with one bad card.
But hands like top straight, or nuts flush (ace high), you should consider slow playing and try to entice a bet. Do not check too far as you might either lose or win a tiny pot. Hands like full houses and above, definitely slow play them, especially if you have an almost unbeatable full house.
A full house that could get you into trouble, for example, would be: you have 22, flop comes A A 2. now you flopped a full house, but lets say the turn is a 9 and your opponent has A 9. You dont have the nuts anymore, but it would be pretty much impossible to make someone fold that hand (A9) after the flop.
An almost unbeatable full house would be where you have AA, and the flop is A 2 2. Now if some player has 2/something, and hit the something, they will still have a lower full house. Remember, it is always better to win a small pot then lose anything. If necessary, take the pot away and don’t let your opponent see too many cards so that they can make a better hand than you.
Money Managing Tips
One strategy is to come in with the minimum amount required (like 50BB at the regular tables). This way, you can minimize your losses. Of course this means you have less to play with and possibly double-up with, but the chance of doubling up isn’t so great so we suggest coming to each table with the minimum buy-in.
Also, if you win about 3 times the amount you came to the table with, you should leave and put that money away. This is not a strict rule because many factors can play into your decision, like how well you are playing, the “easiness” it is to win money off of your opponents, etc.
But remember, while you have money at a table, it can always be lost, especially at no limit tables where you can lose it all in one hand. You just might want to put some of it away, but if you do and you want to continue playing, you will need to change tables because on no limit tables, PokerStars requires you to come back to the same table that you left with at least the amount you had previously (for 30 minutes).