How Low Can Poker Go?
Low stakes poker players often have a hard time finding a game to their liking in a casino. Some casinos will spread games as small as $2/$4 or $3/$6 limit. No-limit poker games rarely get smaller than games with $1/$2 blinds. While these games might be considered “small stakes” in brick-and-mortar poker games, one could still easily lose over $100.
For poker players who don’t want to risk losing more than a couple of dollars, thankfully there’s online poker. Many online poker rooms spread very, very affordable poker games. Just how low can you go?
Some online poker rooms like Titan Poker offer no-limit games with blinds of $.01 and $.02. To play these games, one could buy-in for as little as $1! It’d be impossible to find such small games in a casino poker room.
Of course, what costs less than $.01? Something that costs nothing! Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of ways to enjoy poker for free. One might think that playing poker for free is a great way to practice poker strategy. This is actually not true. Many play money online poker games are filled with players who have no incentive to play in a manner that simulates real-money conditions. In other words, play money games are often filled with people playing like clowns. After all, what do they have to lose?
To hone one’s poker skills in an environment where other players actually want to win, low stakes online poker is the way to go. Sure, you might wind up losing a couple of dollars in the process, but who cares? For risking the cost of a sandwich, one can play low stakes online poker and begin to build their skills against other players at any time of the day.
Who knows? Maybe all that practice will have you with a little pocket money and the confidence to take on the players at the casino!
Differences Between Play Money And Low-Stakes
When starting out playing poker, many people believe they can play for fake money (play money) and then transition for real money. This simply is not the case. There’s a big difference between fake money games and real-money games.
In fake money games, there’s no incentive to fold whatsoever. All of the online poker sites will give you unlimited amounts of fake money, so there’s no major reason to conserve your chips. Obviously, in a real money game, you don’t have an unlimited amount of cash (if you do, congrats!) so people actually play seriously. Some play-money players play for pride (some nice alliteration huh?), but that incentive is not nearly as much as cold, hard cash.
In a fake money game, you will be called and paid off with all sorts of hands because people simply want to see what you have. People won’t do this in a real-money game, even if the bet is just a dollar. If you play a lot of play money games, you will get used to winning more with your ‘winning hands’ which doesn’t transition into a real-money game. Your hand selection will get too loose, and it will affect your style of play too much.
While fake money games are good to get used to the rules of Texas Hold’em or just for fun, they are not a good learning tool for transitioning into low-stakes real-money games.
What Is Low-Stakes Poker?
This website is about succeeding at low-stakes poker, but what exactly is low-stakes. In their poker strategy articles, PokerTips.org refers to fixed-limit Texas Hold’em games of $2-$4 or less as low-stakes. As for no-limit holdem, games with $.50-$1 blind are considered low-stakes.
I could be politically correct and say that ‘low-stakes are whatever low-stakes is to you,’ but that would be a disservice. The truth is that low-stakes refers to a style of play, more of a Texas No Fold’em if you will. What is low-stakes depends if you are live or online, since live games tend to be much looser than live games.
Nowadays, with online games being tougher, I’d think of fixed-limit games of $1-$2 and lower being low-stakes, and no-limit games with $.25-$.50 blinds as low-stakes. For live games, I’d say you could multiply these amounts by four or so. Pretty much any game that is $5-$10 fixed or less or no-limit with $1-$2 blinds play like low-stakes games.
Shocked by the difference? If anything, the online games are probably tougher at these limits, since they are full of nits, whereas the live games tend to be full of calling stations.