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A lot of players start out playing for low stakes.  Most see low stakes poker as the best way to play poker with very little risk.  Others see low stakes poker as training to getting better at poker. Let’s learn a few insights into low stakes poker that will make you a better player.

Treat Low Stakes Poker as You Would Treat Higher Stakes Poker

There are two good reasons to look at low stakes poker as poker first and low stakes poker second.  This means that the stakes are less relevant for you than the fact that it is poker that you are playing.

It shouldn’t matter to you how other low stakes players view the game; it should only matter how you see it.

The first reason to look at low stakes poker as poker in full is that if you look at low stakes poker as “just poker” you will make a lot of mistakes, you won’t even know that you have made these mistakes, and you will not really get enough better to move up to higher stakes.  In other words, playing Juicy Poker at higher stakes means also playing juicy poker at lower stakes!

Nevertheless, many players who saw low stakes poker as “just poker” move up anyway and then they lose a lot of money.

The second reason to see low stakes poker as a stepping stone to higher stakes and the challenge of playing against more proficient opponents is that if you don’t do so, you will develop a large number of bad habits that you will take with you to higher stakes games.

How Do We Look at Low Stakes Poker as if it Were Higher Stakes Poker?

The first is to fold before the flop almost any hand that you would fold in a higher stakes game.  In low stakes, if your opponents really have no idea what they are doing, you might stay in some pots that you otherwise would fold quickly.

In general, however, even in low stakes games, you need  to play for the fewer big pots and use your free time—that is, all the time you will have on hands you have folded—to observe and to go over each hand as it unfolds.  You can use the time to perfect your grasp of poker math over the table.  And by folding, you risk no money!

Play Every Day

Now, we realize that there will be days on which you can’t play.  Your wedding day might be one such day.  The key point here is that a short poker session every day is better than one long one per week.

You will be more alert if you play every day.  You will be able to concentrate better.  Being alert and well rested means that you will miss a lot less of the things you need to see in order to get better at the game.

Play When it is Best for You to Play

It is a mistake to play at any old time.  Some people are better players at night and some in the morning. 

In his Paris Review interview, Saul Bellow said that he wrote every day from around 8:00 am until noon.  Apparently he was not very good as a writer after noon.  He read copiously probably from noon onward.

In a similar vein, Georges Simenon used to block out his writing schedule when he sat down to write one of his (much shorter) novels. 

Musicians practice their scales every day.  Scales are the first thing every musician learns and as they take their last breath they are probably still practicing scales at least in their head.

So, play every day and at the time that is best suited to you as a player.  The sessions should be relatively short as your concentration needs to be in top form and it takes time to develop long term deep concentration.  Start out slowly with short sessions.  You can increase your playing time as you develop better and better habits.

Treat the Small Blind as Just Another Player

You don’t have to call the small blind; you have to call the big blind.  The small blind is there to add money to the pot but he doesn’t or at least shouldn’t affect your strategy in any way.

In the same way, when you are the small blind, you should not see the money you have put into the pot as having any real effect on your play.  Like everyone else, you have to call or raise the big blind.  As the small blind, you should fold before the flop almost as often as any other player.

Bet Wisely and Fearlessly

Don’t be afraid to bet!

It probably seems odd that after we have told you not to bet foolishly, to fold before the flop as if you were playing in a higher stakes game already, that suddenly we tell you not to be afraid to bet!

We should fear betting foolishly.  To that end, we fold much more often than we play even just to see the flop.

We should also fear being afraid to bet.  This seems like a dichotomy and it is.  While we have to bet wisely we also have to remember to bet!

There are many situations where we need to bet without fear.

  1. When we have a good hand!  Even in early position, a good hand is a good hand!
  2. When everyone else is limping in to see the flop.  This applies only if you have a hand that you reasonably can limp in with.
  3. If your opponents are the type to bluff constantly with nothing.  If you have any value in your hand, you might raise the incessant bluffer and win some extra money.
  4. If your opponents have no real idea what they are doing.  You need to be able to take advantage of weak players.

Learn the Language of Poker

We don’t mean learn the slang that has developed in poker over the years.  We mean learn the terms that better poker players use to describe normal situations.  There are many good poker glossaries online.  The terms you need to know at the tip of your tongue should be obvious.  You really do need to know these terms to get better at poker                 

Begin to Learn Poker Math

We saved this one for last because there are a lot of players who never learn poker math.  They are content to play in low stakes games for the fun of playing poker.  They don’t particularly care if they lose some money since the stakes are so low.

If you want to move to higher stakes games, you will need to be able to compete with players who have put themselves through a poker math tutorial.  So, you need to do the same!  Poker math is not really all that difficult; the fact is that almost every player can learn it well enough to play in higher stakes games.

A lot of the difficulty in learning poker math is thinking that it is all about math.  The truth is that understanding the concepts is more important than learning the math.  The math follows fairly easily once you understand the concepts.

You might never get to very high stakes games but without learning the basics of poker math, you will never be ready to graduate out of low stakes gamnes.

Juicy Stakes Poker Offers Great Online Poker

We urge you, if you have not yet signed up to play poker online at Juicy Stakes, to do so NOW!  We offer great online poker in many stakes levels and in many variations of poker.  Join the fun and enjoy the games!


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