posted on March 24, 2013 01:46
1) Internet poker affords players the opportunity to play for real money at stakes far lower than are generally available in traditional casinos. At the very low end are Omaha and Hold’em games with $0.02/$0.04 betting structures, while the upper end of low-limit is generally considered to be a $4/$4 structure. This can be both a boon and a bane.
On the one hand, it gives you the chance as a beginner to gradually hone your knowledge and strategy and then advance to ever so slightly higher limits when your progress merits doing so. On the other hand, you must be very careful to not think that because the stakes in your beginning games are so low, the money doesn’t matter so much and therefore you don’t need to be sharp about your game and improving it.
2) Be especially careful not to equate low-limit internet poker with poker games you might play for fun with friends and family. Understand that, even though the majority of low-limit internet players will be beginners, some percentage will be A) experienced players looking to either try out a new strategy about which they have either thought or read about and B) Much better players looking to earn their buy-in money for higher limit tables from less experienced players.
3) While it’s true that when you’re up against those beginners who don’t take low-limit stakes seriously you’ll be able to earn money off them with relative ease, that action is not honing your skills for higher-stakes games. To the extent possible you should seek out internet tables where your opponents are very serious about the game, despite the low stakes. With so many players on each poker site, it could be months before you face the same player again. But you have a recourse— namely, taking notes on your opponents. On most sites, if you right click on an opponent you are given an option to take notes on his/her play style. By all means, do take such notes. Develop a personal poker shorthand (for example, LC can stand for “Loose Cannon.”) Then in the future, when you recognize a player, you can consult your notes and therefore be that much further ahead.
4) Inexperienced players have a tendency to play too many starting hands. The temptation to see the flop, for them, is overwhelming. Understand that you can learn as much from staying out of a hand and observing how the others play as you can from staying in. Do not play garbage hole cards. Instead, fold them, and then pay attention to how the remaining players place their bets, how long they take to act, and all the other signs that will give you an advantage when you are playing against them with hole cards statistically favored to win.
5) A special warning is in order for when you are playing low stakes no-limit games. Televised poker is almost always of the no-limit variety and therefore many ill-advised beginners itch to get in on that specific kind of action. Because the internet makes so readily available the playing of low stakes no-limit games, many people heedlessly go “all in” (when all-in is twenty cents) in situations where no player with one brain cell to rub against another would. You must exercise extreme caution against getting caught up in the foolishness, because if you develop bad habits for no-limit play then you will never successfully advance to higher stakes, no-limit games.
6) For the same reasons that many on-line players will go all-in unjustifiably, they will also call unjustifiably in low-limit games. Don’t get sucked into the cycle. When one or more opponents are calling stations and you don’t have a hand that justifies your calling and/or raising, throw that hand right into the muck.
7) Beginners must be aware of the enormous difference between a $0.05/$0.10 poker game and a $25/$50 one. Some people spend a month or two winning overall in the low-limit games and then erroneously presume that they can successfully make a quantum leap to much higher stakes games without going through the necessary intermediary steps as part of their learning curve. It is wise to spend between 20 and 40 hours playing at each stakes level before progressing to the next higher level. If after less time you feel you are seriously outmatching all of your opponents at a given level, you can consider going up, but do so with due caution.
The importance of supplementing your practice with reading and studying about poker can not be overemphasized. If you find yourself doing poorly at on-line tables, give it a break for a little while, and in that time, study. Our era of poker enjoys a plethora of well-written books, magazines, and on-line tips about the game.
9) In sum, do not let out of your mind for one second the idea that you as a beginner should use low stakes internet poker games as learning tools to advance your skills, prepping you for eventual big wins in higher stakes games.
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