Avoiding Micro-Limit Poker Tables

Spend the Extra Buck – It’ll be worth it Later!

-ThePokerSource.com staff writer-

When I first sat down at an online Texas Hold’em poker table, or more accurately, when I first sat down on my couch CB007980and clicked the icon of the virtual seat I wanted to sit at, I was quite nervous. I had never played online poker before and I didn’t know what to expect.

How fast was the action going to be? How much time did I have to think before making a call or bet? How were my opponents going to play? And my most common thought, how much could I win or lose?

Starting off, I figured I would “sit down” at a micro-limit Texas Hold’em table to better study the game, my opponents, and to get a feel for the buttons I’d need to click and the overall pace of the action. A $0.10/$0.20 table was my first choice, and the action went something like this:

Call the blinds, see the flops, fold if I missed the flop, bet if the flop improved my hand.

It wasn’t rocket science. It was simple Texas Hold’em strategy (if you can call it that) and it was the same way that everyone else at the table played.

In nearly every hand there were five to eight players to a flop. Sometimes I’d hit my straight, or trips, or flush and I’d win a few coins. But more often than not I’d call the blind with any resemblance of a playable hand, not hit anything on the flop, and then fold to the first better.

Overall, I actually won a few dollars playing this way. But now that I look back, I wasn’t actually playing poker at all. I was playing a slot machine in a casino—hitting a button and hoping the machine would spin my way.

What I quickly learned was this had absolutely nothing to do with skill, and everything to do with luck. When poker players sit down at micro-limit tables, they’re not risking much. Even the worst player can play online poker at micro-limit tables and still only lose five bucks or so in an hour. If that amount of money is going to significantly affect your well-being or the well-being of your family, please, don’t play online poker to begin with!

Play only at trusted online poker sites such as FullTiltPoker.com

The point I am trying to make is this: on the lowest of table limits people are not afraid to call (even with bad starting hands) and wait around to hopefully catch a few cards and get lucky. “Fishing” as it’s often referred, is all too common in these low-limit games—both in cash games and in tournaments. What do you have to lose? A dime? Maybe a quarter if someone re-raises?

As I worked my way up the poker ladder and began to play at higher-stakes tables, I initially got my butt handed to me. The strategy of limping in (or merely calling the blinds to see a flop), that same strategy I “learned” at the micro tables—did not fare so well here. And I quickly learned that it wasn’t just about playing the cards, you also needed to play your opponents.

People weren’t always going to bet with a good hand, or fold with a bad hand. And people weren’t always going to call your bets to stick around and see what they might catch. The strategy of bet-bet-bet when I thought I had a winning hand at the micro tables, quickly turned into a fold-fold-fold strategy from my opponents when I played this way at higher limit games.

At the micro-limit tables the strategy is simple, if you have a good hand, bet. Someone, somewhere, is sitting in their love seat, on their fifteenth Budweiser, saying to hell with it- I can only win this hand if I catch a 3, but it’s only going to cost me a dime to catch that 3, so I may as well call. But this “calling station” mindset of micro-limit players also makes it impossible to bluff, another aspect of the game you must get good at when playing at higher stakes tables.

The moral of the article is this: playing at micro-limit poker tables will help you get accustomed to playing online poker (learning the buttons to click and the pace of play), but it will not make you a better poker player.

You’re better off spending the extra buck, skipping the micro-tables and tournaments, and learning poker the correct way. The competition will no-doubt be more skilled at these higher stakes tables, and you may lose a few dollars at the onset, but you won’t begin your online poker career with a pocket pair of bad strategies.

Before you do anything, read all the articles on ThePokerSource.com and sign up for an online poker account at a site you can trust, such as Pokerstars or FullTilt Poker. Then when you’re ready to play, start off at a $.50/$1.00 table and put the practices you’ve learned to good use. Don’t play for pennies and nickels and expect to learn the game of poker. Your opponents will call-call-call-call and call. And after a few minutes, so will you.