Low Stakes Online Poker Tournament Strategy

Nathan Williams

If there is one thing I hear the most from small stakes poker players it is they can't seem to consistently turn a profit at the poker tables.

They will win big one session — or even several sessions in a row — but then inevitably the cards will go south on them and they will lose all of their profit back.

This is a problem because everybody has winning and losing days in poker. What the most successful poker players do, however, is lose less on their bad days and win more on their good days.

The fields will always be soft, and while a little better structure is nice, the best thing to look for in low stakes tournaments is a low rake: $100+25 is pretty standard, but if you can find $125+25 it’s better, and if you are paying $75+25 the tournament is going to be tough to beat. When you play poker online regularly, it’s important for you to identify and profile your opponents on the low stakes felts. If you have done your homework, you probably know that they fall into two categories mainly: the tight-passive regs and the loose recreational players aka ‘calling stations’.

In this article I am going to give you five of my top strategies for learning how to win consistently in small stakes poker games.

1. Maximize Your Winnings on the Good Days

As I mentioned above, you are going to have good days and bad days in poker. Some days you will be hitting every top pair, making your flushes and the like. And just as importantly, on those good days your opponents will keep having decent second-best hands with which to pay you off as well.

But there will also be other days when you can't make a hand to save your life. And when you finally do make a hand, guess what? That's right — they will have the higher flush, the higher set, and other better hands. If you have played poker for any amount of time, I think you know what I am talking about here.

Now half the battle to learning how to win consistently at the poker tables is simply maximizing your winnings on the good days. You know that on some days you are going to have to take some losses, so winning as much as possible on the good days is absolutely key.

This is why you need immediately to shed the 'protectionist' mentality many small stakes players have of winning a few buy-ins and then wanting to quit in order to 'lock up the win.' This isn't how poker works. Poker is one long session and your results on any individual day literally matter very little.

By quitting early when things are going well — and, more importantly, when you are probably playing well also — you are only hurting yourself. When the cards are falling your way, try to keep playing as long as possible.

2. Minimize Your Losses on the Bad Days

The reverse is true as well. On the days when absolutely nothing is working for you, you want to quit early and stop the bleeding.

But again, many small stakes players do the exact opposite. They want to keep playing to get back what they've lost. Or even worse, they'll jump up in stakes if they are stuck a lot to try and win it back faster.

The problem with this strategy is that even though you might not realize it in the moment, you are likely playing very poorly on days like this. Your judgment and decision-making is clouded by emotions. You are likely to play a looser game and more aggressively, and as a result you'll be more apt to make bad calls and other poor decisions.

If you want to start turning a long term consistent profit in poker, one of the absolute best things you can do is just leave the poker table on these bad days. You have to remember that poker games literally run around the clock. That's true both for online poker and even for live games for the most part. In other words, the games aren't going anywhere.

One of the absolute most valuable lessons you can learn in poker is how to take a small loss and come back the next day with a clear head rather than continuing to play and burying yourself with a big loss.

3. Don't Play in Unprofitable Games

Something else you can do in order to win consistently in poker is to start paying more attention when it comes to game selection. If there isn't a clear reason why you are at the table (i.e., somebody at the table who plays much worse than you), there is no reason why you should be at that table.

This is a big mistake that I see small stakes players making all the time. That is, they sit down and play in games full of other strong regulars, not thinking how detrimental taking on such a challenge is likely going to be to their bankroll.

While I know it can be a pain to change tables or even poker sites or casinos, you have to understand that the profit in poker does not come from playing with other people who are equally skilled to you or better. You are going to be essentially trading money back and forth with them in the long run (if not losing). And truthfully, even if you hang in there against such opponents, you will often still show a loss once the rake is taken out.

It is absolutely crucial, then, that there is always at least one player who is a clear soft spot in any poker game that you choose to play. Download texas holdem poker deluxe.

4. Don't Pay Attention to the Short Term

As I touched on before, short term results (day-to-day, week-to-week) really just aren't that important in poker. It is only the long run of months and years of play that really matters.

This is why I would suggest you make a real effort, especially if you play online, to stop checking your bankroll so often. Keep recording your results after each session, of course, but avoid the constant checking. As long as you are properly bankrolled for the games in which you are playing, there should be no issue.

By not checking your bankroll so frequently, you prevent yourself from getting emotional during the downswings. You also prevent yourself from getting a false sense of superiority during the good times.

As I often say in poker, neither the heaters nor the downswings are what is real. Both are illusions — the outliers, the abnormal. The truth about your abilities actually lies somewhere in the middle.

5. Take Them to Value Town

Small stakes poker games are often dominated these days by tight-passive regs and loose, 'calling station' recreational players. The biggest key to your success in these games therefore is going to be getting the maximum value with your good hands.

There is no point in trying to bluff a lot at stakes like this. They are just going to call you down, which will cause you to get even more tilted.

You need to become a master of the value bet instead. And I am not talking about situations here where you have or a flush. Everybody knows how to value bet in these spots. I am talking instead about the thin value bets where you have something like second or even third pair on the river and they check it to you.

Oftentimes many of these bad players at the lower limits will be willing to hero call you with their ace-high if you make a bet. This is especially the case with smaller bets like one-third of the pot.

Don't just check it back and take the showdown like most people do at these stakes. The very biggest winners in these games are always getting that thin value even when it seems impossible that they can call you with worse. Trust me, they can and will at the micros!

Final Thoughts

Learning how to win consistently in the lower limit poker games is one of the very first steps you need to take in order to have a lot of success in this game.

One of the most important keys to remember is to maximize your winnings on the good days and minimize your losses on the bad days. Most players do the exact opposite.

You also want to make sure that you are always playing in profitable games, getting the absolute maximum value out of them, and ignoring your short term results.

Nathan 'BlackRain79' Williams is the author of the popular micro stakes strategy books Crushing the Microstakes, Modern Small Stakes, and The Microstakes Playbook. He also blogs regularly about all things related to the micros over at www.blackrain79.com.

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    cash game strategytournament strategylive pokeronline pokergame selectionbankroll managementtiltvalue betting

Online poker tournaments can be exciting and frustrating for many avid virtual poker players. Staying competitive and also enjoying the learning process of online poker can be hard to accomplish altogether as well. Winning online poker tournaments is a balancing act. It challenges players to apply strategic plays in all their moves, despite it taking place virtually. Not having physical opponents can make online poker tournaments even more perplexing.

Basing your next move on your opponents’ play is also tricky. Players won’t be able to see their opponents’ poker faces and observe their habits to help decide on their applied strategy. Even so, this article aims to guide amateur players trying to compete in online tournaments. By providing concrete techniques to apply to their poker play altogether

4 Things to Remember when Playing in an Online Poker Tournament

1. Brace Yourself for A Lengthy Poker Session

Just because you are playing on your desktop or mobile device, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the streak of the tournament will be quick and smooth flowing. There will be times, more often than not that poker tournaments conducted online can take hours to complete. It is best to prepare by stirring clear of any plans made. If you are competing in a professional online tournament, it is a must to make proper time.

Staying patient with the way online tournaments in poker is important since many technical errors could potentially occur. Staying hydrated and well fed throughout the tournament is a must! Multitasking is key.

2. Prepare for Some Crazy Swings

The number one rule in poker is never to fully predict your opponents’ behavior in poker. Putting players with particular habits and determining your move based on their habits can be off-putting but also clever at times.

Popularity in small stakes poker tournaments is due to the fact that there are a steep number of opponents you could have. This makes it difficult to place them on a certain hand. Not to mention the unpredictability that transpires when a huge cluster of poker players playing for recreational purposes are also present.

In terms of long-term plays, such situation is plausible but for short-term plays, it is best to consider trying another strategy. Ensure that there is balance in your bankroll to be able to have a fallback option in case losses concur frequently.

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3. Use Simple and Max Bets Plays that are Beneficial to Your Hands

The most important tip that potential poker players can take away from this article is that they should never try running intricate bluffs whenever they want. Most of your opponents prioritize the cards they currently possess and work with what they have until they make it to the showdown.

Low Stakes Online Poker Tournament Strategy Game

Another useful tip is to make sure that every hand you play equates to maximum value. In low stakes poker, several of your opponents will most likely call your bets. This is an opportunity for you to up your stakes. In terms of high stakes poker tournaments, players make it a habit to fire off 1/3 pot sized bets at their opponents. This is due to the fact that it is more of a struggle to receive a big payout at that level of stakes.

4. Do Not Fear Playing with a “Balanced Style”

When they say avoid playing using a balanced style, it usually means that worrying about revealing certain playing patterns is unnecessary. Remember keeping variant techniques when playing with big or small hands so as not to appear predictable to your opponents.

Competitive Play at its Best

Poker tournaments in itself are already challenging. Online poker tournaments where poker faces are invalid can be twice as challenging. Staying at long poker sessions online can be draining but also rewarding once you master certain strategies in the process. Learning how to balance your methods when playing cards dealt to you and also maintaining proper poker etiquette, can be doable with the right determination and skill at hand. Join W88 to experience poker tournaments online today!

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