What Insights Can We Glean from Low Stakes Poker?
As the song goes: let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. At Juicy Stakes Poker, we believe in starting at the beginning. Even seasoned poker players can learn something important from getting back to the basics.
What Does the Rake Have to Do with It?
Here is a perfect example of one of the most basic elements in poker that players of all experience levels can learn from. Even though it’s a very good idea for new and inexperienced players to start out playing in low stakes games, some players object to playing in low stakes games because they say the rake the casino takes is much too high in low stakes games.
It is true that the rake percentage in low stakes games may be higher than in higher stakes games. That’s because we limit the rake we allow ourselves to take as a percentage of the pot. In low stakes games, the rake usually is less than the limit and in high stakes games the limit is easily reached at a low percentage of the pot. We also have a simple rake calculator you can use to see what the rake will be for any size pot.
But the size of the rake is totally irrelevant to whether or not you should play in low stakes games! In this article, we will talk about how to approach playing in low stakes games. We are sure that if you take our lessons to heart, many medium or high stakes players will go back to playing in low stakes games at least for a while!
Who Plays Low Stakes Poker?
We can divide low stakes poker players into categories. Some play low stakes poker just because it’s fun and they want to be able to play as much poker as they can without risking too much money. Others play low stakes poker as an inexpensive way to gain a lot of experience as they study and practice in order to advance to the point where they ca play in higher stakes games.
We can also divide low stakes players into people who can only afford to play in low stakes games and people who can afford higher stakes but prefer low stakes as a way to conserve money.
Difficult to Generalize for Millions of Players
As you can see, we are talking about many types of people, with many different levels of poker experience, with different levels of poker ability, and with different reasons for playing the game. So it is very difficult to generalize about low stakes poker players
Some Insights May Seem to Contradict Others
As a result of the very broad nature of poker players, we might make a few generalizations that contradict other generalizations. The key here is that poker players have to pay close attention to what they are doing and to what their opponents are doing and therefore, advice that works for one set of players or opponents might not work at all for a different set of players and opponents!
Low Stakes Poker Has Evolved in the Last Few Years
It used to be that low stakes players were all of a piece: players who played with their pals on the weekends and players who just liked to play for fun and played low stakes as way to conserve their money.
Today, however, we have many low stakes players who are well aware of the math and science of poker.
Shakespeare Wasn’t Talking about Poker
In his immortal play “Hamlet” William Shakespeare wrote advice from father to son: “To thine own self be true.” You might disagree with that advice as being nihilistic but that wasn’t what Shakespeare had in mind. Had he been talking about poker and about low stakes poker at that he would have meant that poker players have to know who they are, why they play poker, and why they play low stakes poker.
How Many Thousands of Hands are You Prepared to Play?
Many poker players know about Nathan Williams who discovered that even at slightly higher stakes he was losing a lot of money so he downgraded his poker playing to low stakes poker and found that at that level he could be a superstar. He made a lot of money playing low stakes poker and has parleyed his fame and fortune into a blogging and book publishing empire of sorts.
The key lesson in all of the lessons low stakes players need to learn is that if you want to advance in poker, to win a lot of money and possibly compete with more experienced and better players, you have to play thousands of poker hands. You can play thousands of hands over the course of a year playing 100 hands per day. That gets you to 36,500 hands in a year.
The most committed poker players play thousands of hands every day. These players see poker as an end not as a means. If you see poker as a means to having a good time, passing the time doing something you really like, and so on, you might find yourself up against players who see poker as important to then=m as life itself. Poker players who think like this also play low stakes poker!
There is Nothing Wrong with Playing Low Stakes Poker
Some poker players are ashamed that they play for very low stakes. There is nothing shameful about it! As we are saying, there are basically two types of low stakes players: those who want to advance to higher stakes and those who don’t want to advance to higher stakes.
The players who want to advance and the players who don’t want to advance have different goals and those different goals animate everything they do about poker.
Players Who Take Poker Very Seriously
These players may all be Nathan Williams wannabees. They want to make a killing at low stakes poker by taking advantage of the disconnect between their skill level and the skill level of the average low stakes player. These are the players who play for hours every day. They play thousands of hands every day. They study poker when they aren’t playing.
When you play online, you might come across the same players rather often. If they seem like this type of player—the person who plays all day every day—it might be a good idea to leave games in which they are competing. The low stakes player who just wants to play for fun should play with others who just want to play for fun
A Bit of Poker Slang
We will end part one with a bit of slang from the world of modern poker. Players who play regularly are called regs. There is a large body of literature both in print and on sites like YouTube in which occasional players, or players who play just to have fun, are taught how to recognize the regs and, if the regs are also sharks, to avoid them!
We will continue our discussion about low stakes poker next time.