Understanding Stakes in Poker
The term “stakes” in poker refers to the betting level including the maximum bet allowed. In Texas Hold’em, stakes also refer to the size of the blinds; as the stakes go up, the blinds also go up.
In the popular culture, there is a great deal of status accorded to players who play and win at high stakes poker. Here at Juicy Stakes Poker, we offer poker at many stakes levels. We feel that poker players should never be pigeonholed into one playing level. If the game you are playing right now is too “rich” for you, we urge you to leave that game and find a game more amenable to your safe stakes level.
How Many Stakes Levels Are There?
This question can only be answered by how a dollar can be divided. If you play in any other currency, the same applies to that currency. The dollar can be divided into pennies so one penny is the lowest stakes level.
Above a single dollar, w can have games at a $5 minimum and so on until we reach no-limit poker. No-limit poker is quite obviously the highest stakes level you can play. As interesting as no-limit poker is, this article is about lower stakes levels.
Is it Possible to Win at Very Low Stakes?
Yes, of course, it is!
The real question is: Should I quit my day job in order to become a professional low-stakes poker player? The answer to that question is probably no!
Why Do Some Poker Players Play at Low Stakes?
First of all, there are a lot of players who play just for fun. They have found in low stakes a level at which they don’t have to worry about the risk since they can easily afford to lose at this level.
In that way, this kind of poker player maximizes the fun of playing poker while minimizing the risk involved.
Some Players Start at Low Stakes with an Eye on Higher Stakes
The Chris Moneymaker story has a lot to do with the rise of online poker and poker in general. Now, poker has long been a favorite of pals in a monthly poker game on a Friday night.
These friendly poker games may last for hours and no one wins or loses a lot of money. If a player loses one time, he or she will feel confident that they could just as easily win the next time.
When Chris Moneymaker decided to enter the World Series of Poker, he was more or less the kind of poker player who enjoyed playing without risking a lot of money. He had found out by playing at low stakes that he was a pretty good player but even as he moved up from day to day in the tournament, he never saw himself as a top-echelon poker player.
But he was a top echelon player. Nowadays, many players start out at low stakes level envisioning the day when they will become the Chris Moneymaker of a future big-time poker tournament.
Low Stakes Poker for Experience
We all know that experience is a major factor in success in any endeavor. The Mars Candy Company was started by immigrants in their kitchen trying to create a chocolate bar that Americans would love. They went bankrupt twice before finding the right recipe for success.
They parlayed their less happy experience into a successful end and a wildly successful company producing chocolate bars that people love all over the planet!
For a lot of poker players, playing at low stakes gives them the opportunity to learn from experience at very low risk.
How Does Playing at Low Stakes Help Players?
We already spoke about minimizing risk. Let’s look at the psychological side of low stakes poker. There are players who are so enamored of their own ability that they think that they are ready for higher stakes when they really are only ready for lower stakes poker.
Starting out at low stakes turns hubris in humility. It turns unrealistic expectations into realistic expectations. It turns the feeling that we have little to learn into realizing that we have a lot to learn.
A poker player with an excessively high regard for his or her skill might make the simplest and most avoidable mistakes. Playing at low stakes is by definition a chance to allow yourself to see yourself as a pure beginner and amateur!
Ultimately, being able to see yourself in this way is a good thing!
Learn to be a Good Observer
We all remember games from our childhood in which we are given a picture with a lot of detail and after looking at the picture for half a minute or so, we have to remember as many things in the picture as we can.
A good poker player will remember how this specific opponent played a hand on the turn or the river perhaps an hour ago or even much longer ago. Daniel Negreanu is a favorite of YouTube poker clips because he is so accessible to other players as he analyzes a hand up to the point the hand is at.
In poker, honing your observational skills might be the most important element of all! We look for one player’s tendencies, another player’s betting patterns, and a third player’s style. All of these will come in handy when you have a major decision to make.
Patterns, tendencies, and style are important aspects of everyday life in business, in one’s family life, and even in traffic patterns that can save time and anxiety. Understanding who one’s best customers and clients are should go a long way (these days, unfortunately, they don’t affect decisions as much) to determining advertising campaigns and the like.
A company that stays true to its consumer base will succeed where another company might step over its base and gets stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Read the Table
In politics especially there is a skill called “reading the room”. A truly skilled politician will sense in a short time what the “room” less wants to her. He or she will concentrate on areas of more direct interest to the people in the room.
Every poker game is different than every other game because the players er different. Even if the players are exactly the same, something that doesn’t happen often at Juicy Stakes Poker, the players are still different since they have been through their own personal lives between their last encounter with you and their present encounter with you.
The risk is always at the forefront of the learning curve in poker. Learning to read the table in poker may take quite a lot of time. By playing at low stakes, you can get a full “course of study” in reading a table at very low risk.
Bluffing is the Mother’s Milk of Poker
Almost every hand in poker has a bluff. It might be a bluff from an early position before the flop. But that might also be a bet from strength. How do you know? You never completely know but over time you can learn how to make an educated guess as to the strength or weakness of a bet from an early position before the flop!
Juicy Stakes Poker at Your Service
We offer many poker games at very many stakes levels. If you are a beginning poker player outside of the friendly milieu we spoke about earlier, you really do need to see yourself as one who is just starting out.
We encourage all true beginners to start out at low stakes for the reasons given here and in other articles we have published. They are yours for the reading!