Everything You Need To Know About Low Stakes Poker

min read
Cards and casino chips displayed on a poker table.
BetMGM Apr 18, 2024, 3:12 AM

It’s thrilling to watch poker professionals bet exorbitant amounts of money but not everyone can afford to join these elite players. Thankfully, though, you can always play low stakes online poker games.

This blog post contains everything you need to know about playing small stakes poker. You’ll find easy-to-apply tips on how to improve your game, and, hopefully, win more in the long run.

What Is Small Stakes Poker?

There are no hard and fast definitions, but generally poker stakes can be divided into five groups:

  1. Micro: $0.01/$0.02–$0.05/$0.10.
  2. Small: $0.10/$0.25–$0.25/$0.50.
  3. Mid: $0.50/$1.00–$2.00/$4.00.
  4. High: $2.50/$5.00–$200/$400.
  5. Nosebleed: $500/$1,000 and higher.

These categories are up for discussion, but it gives you an idea. If someone’s talking about low stakes poker online, the chances are they mean big blinds of less than a dollar.

Online vs. Live

The micros are the absolute lowest possible stakes for playing poker online. Although pot sizes are generally tiny, you can quickly churn through lots of hands. After all, online poker is much faster since the shuffling is handled by a random number generator. In addition, you can always multi-table.

However, live poker rooms don’t offer these micro stakes games. Since far fewer hands are dealt and the card room needs to make money through rake, games usually start at $1/$2. If those are the smallest games offered, it’s fair to consider these as low stakes games in a live environment.

This is unless, of course, you’re setting up a home poker game, in which case the stakes can be as small as you want.

Why Play Poker at Low Stakes?

The main attraction is the relatively small amount needed to start playing. A suitable small stakes bankroll could be as small as $50. But there are other considerations too.

Playing More Games

First, you get to play more games. When playing for smaller stakes, you’ll be able to get through more hands with your monthly poker budget. If you doubled the stakes, for instance, you’d on average play half as many hands. 

Playing more games is great when you’re learning the game. There’s a well-known saying that you must spend 10,000 hours on a skill to master it. By playing low stakes games, you’re improving the ratio of hours played per dollar spent.

Less Skilled Opponents

Low stakes games are great for beginners. That’s why the quality of the game at these tables is comparatively low. However, don’t get complacent and think that everyone playing online casino games is useless. Even the best have to start somewhere.

In a live casino, someone might sit at a poker table for fun. But to play poker online games, you need to be sufficiently interested in the game to actually create an account. These players are usually more dedicated.

That said, once a player is good enough to consistently win at low stakes, they’ll move up a level. Therefore, generally speaking, the lower the stakes, the poorer your opponents.

At lower stakes, you can play more hands against less-skilled opponents. In other words, it’s the perfect environment to hone your skills and improve your game. 

Tips for Playing Small Stakes Poker

Now that you know what to expect at low stakes tables, here’s how you can turn that knowledge to your advantage. 

Play ABC Poker

The best way to exploit the fact that you’re playing against less skilled players is to go “by the book.” Most opponents won’t understand high-level concepts like the REM process, range balancing, or stack-to-pot ratios. For the most part, they just focus on their own hand.

Therefore, you can often win by sticking to basic strategies and playing tight. Wait for the good hands and bet for value. If you can recognize the quality of your hand and know when to bet and when to shove, you’re going to be just fine.

Don’t Bluff

For many players, bluffing might just be the most enjoyable part of poker. However, in order for a bluff to succeed, the conditions must be right. First, you need to know what you’re representing. But in addition, your opponent must recognize what you might be holding and make a decision based on that.

You’re no longer relying on your own skill, but your opponent’s, too. They must have enough experience to know what you’re representing. But as we know, players at low stakes games tend to be less skilled.

On top of that, since the stakes aren’t big, many players are overly aggressive. They call and raise far too often, making it almost impossible to bluff them.

Don’t Slow Play Good Hands

Slow playing is when you attempt to disguise a very strong hand by betting passively or simply checking. The idea is that your opponent will bet more, thinking your hand is weak. However, that doesn’t usually work well in most low stakes games. 

There are two likely scenarios when playing online poker tournaments with lower stakes. You’re either going to be up against total beginners, who may be passive and happy to check everything except good hands — in which case you need to be betting to pick up the blinds. Or you’ll be playing calling stations and maniacs, in which case you must look to build a pot.

Moving to Higher Stakes

Once you master the micro stakes games and consistently outplay your opponents, you’ll want to move to a higher level. Although you’ll now be playing against tougher opponents, you’ll win more money than at the low stakes if you can beat them.

When playing at an online casino or poker room, it’s easy to progress. All the best online poker sites provide a clear breakdown of the different stakes, and most tables are full of players.

When moving from micro to small stakes, ABC poker will still go a long way, although the players are more active. However, if you want to successfully move to mid-stakes and above, you’ll need to master more complex poker concepts.

It’s High Time You Try Low Stakes Poker

So, you’re now up to speed with playing poker for low stakes. Well, at least in theory. Once you put real money on the line and start making decisions under pressure, you’ll likely make mistakes. However, that’s all part of the learning process. Don’t be discouraged.

Read up on poker theory and try to incorporate it into your game. That said, there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned experience at the table. Register at BetMGM, where you’ll find plenty of small stakes games to practice.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.