Micro Stakes Poker

Micro Stakes Poker

  • Most new players make things a lot harder on themselves than necessary
  • You need to play the lowest stakes out there until you can beat them
  • Only move up when it at least looks like you are ready for the higher stake

Starting Out On The Right Track Is Very Important

I want to set aside a special section on poker strategy specifically designed to get players who are just starting out with real money poker on the right track. While both new and experienced players alike will benefit from my main series, Ken's Guide To Winning Poker, if you're a newer player, and especially if you're just starting out with your first real money deposit, I want to make sure that I'm giving you every opportunity to succeed.

So you've taken advantage of the free poker money that we're offering you here, staking you at real money poker for perhaps the first time. If it's not the first time, well obviously you haven't really been able to become a consistent winner, or you wouldn't need the free money we've arranged for you here. No matter, as without the proper guidance it is pretty difficult to do well right out of the gate. Most players never get there, even after playing for years. Now I don't want to discourage you by telling you this, as the good news is that with the right instruction, you will get there, and it won't even be that difficult.

Why Do So Many New Players Struggle So Much?

So let's look at the reasons why players tend to fail when starting out with a small bankroll. There's two main ones, and the first one if of course not being good enough of a poker player. We'll address that, at least to the point where you'll be better than the average player, in this series. Then, to ramp your game up even more, a lot more in fact, you can read my main strategy series, which as you progress with it, will get you good enough to beat even the high stakes in time.

For now we'll worry about beating the micro stakes, which by the way are the lowest stakes that a poker site offers. This leads us into the second mistake newer players make, and the worst of the two by far. Not knowing any better, the tendency is to play at a stake far too high for their bankroll to support. For instance, you have $50 and you're playing 5 and 10 cent no limit. Now you might think, well this is probably even too low for a bankroll this size, but in fact it's way too small to support it, even if you were a winning player.

The problem is that you only have 5 buy-ins at this stake, meaning if you lose your stack 5 times you'll bust out. Busting out is what you want to really focus on avoiding by the way, even if you have the money to throw in another or even several more similarly sized deposits. So with only 5 buy-ins, even a winning player will encounter bad runs of luck far too often to even consider playing this high. In fact many players consider 20 buy-ins too little, because they want to be able to ride out whatever bad luck streaks that come and not take a big hit on their bankroll, so they aim for 30 or more. 30 isn't a bad number, although you can play 20 if you use some tricks of mine and move up and down as needed, which isn't something we need to worry about right now.

Stick To The Lowest Stake Until You Can Beat It

In fact, the only time you need to even start worrying about playing something other than the lowest stake a poker site has to offer is when you've proven yourself worthy of doing so. This means that you've clearly demonstrated that you can beat the lowest stake and it's time to start shooting for bigger profits. If you do not have profits yet, playing higher than the lowest not only means bigger losses, but playing against better competition as a rule.

So you might be thinking that no one would be this foolish to play over their heads, but almost all new players in fact make this mistake, and fritter their deposit away with reckless abandon in fact. They don't even take away any useful lessons from the experience other than getting stomped on and very likely not having much of an idea of what happened. Although it's unlikely, it may even be the case that they played very well and just ran into some bad luck. Some people will even have their whole stack in play at a table and can be sent home with a single turn of the card. It could have been in a hand where they got pocket aces all in preflop against a 72 offsuit and a 7 and a 2 hit the board.

So the first thing you want to focus on is not setting yourself up for failure by playing too high. Once again, too high is anything but the lowest stakes. If it's one and two cent no limit, as it often is, then you sit down with your $2, with 25 buy-ins if you have $50 in your account, or 50 buy-ins if you have $100, and then you sit back and look to learn the game. You need to keep in mind that until you can beat the stake you're at consistently, no amount of buy-ins will be too many, as you'll be heading down over time until you get to the point where you're good enough to start turning things around and move in the other direction.

So It's Not How Much Money You Have, It's How Good You Are

So the trick is to give yourself the best chance you can to learn enough and gain enough experience so that you can turn things around before you go broke. So obviously, the more buy-ins you have, the more time you buy for yourself to do this. If you do go broke anyway, you've bought yourself a lot more experience by playing smart then if you just blew off your bankroll playing at stakes you had no business playing at in the first place. Then, once you get another bankroll together, whether that be another free bankroll from us or your own money, you'll be in a much better position to succeed this time.

Another benefit of playing conservatively is that you can just play solid poker and not have to deal with the added stress of having the size of pots be too large for comfort. This not only leads to the opportunity to make better decisions at the table, for instance not playing scared, it also minimizes the blow when you lose pots. The bigger the pot relative to your bankroll, the bigger chance that you'll get really upset and go on tilt. Since you're not even good enough to beat the games at the best of times, tilting is certainly something you really need to avoid.

As well, by playing smaller, you'll give yourself a much better chance to survive and cash in on your deposit bonus that you are eligible to receive. You only get to cash in on this extra money though if you're able to play enough at the poker site, and you won't get there by busting out over and over again. While it's true that the smaller the stakes you play, the more hands you'll need to play to free up these bonuses, but the advantage of needing less hands at higher stakes is more than offset by both being out of your league and not even having the size of bankroll you need to ride out the normal ups and downs that come with poker. By the way, you're able to make further deposits if you need to in order to take a shot at these bonuses, which is a good idea in fact if you can do it at all.

There's No Good Reason To Hold Back Your Deposits

Another mistake players make, although this isn't a big one like the other two, is having money to put in but waiting until they go broke to do it. For instance, you get some free poker money from us, and have more that you can put in but choose to wait. If you can put it in, you should do so immediately in fact, as this puts you in a better position to be bankrolled properly. There's no advantage in holding back in fact, and if you're willing to make another deposit anyway, it's always better to put it in sooner rather than later. You definitely need to resist the urge to play higher simply because you have more money on deposit though, and if you feel that you don't have the discipline to do the right thing here, then by all means wait.

So I've spent the whole first lesson talking about choosing the proper stake to start out at, which is the smallest stake a poker site offers, and there's a good reason for that. There is nothing more important than this lesson. Once you do get better, and start to beat this stake, then you can look at playing the one above it, and not before. Otherwise, no matter what else you do to help yourself, you are just setting yourself up to either fail completely, or at best, make your poker education much more expensive than it needs to be.