Once you graduate from playing the Texas holdem micro limits
the next step is the low limit tables. Of course you might have
skipped the micro limits and jumped right into low limit play.
The low limits start at .50 / $1 for limit play and go up to
$3 / $6. No limit ranges from buy ins of $25 up to $200. You
play low limit Texas holdem online at around the same levels
that most land based poker rooms offer their lowest games.
You can’t play for free or micro limits in most land based
poker rooms and casinos. But you can still find limit games as
low as $1 / $2 or $2 / $4 in some rooms and no limit games with
buy ins as low as $100.
Learn the characteristics of low limit Texas holdem games,
bankroll requirements, differences between limit and no limit
play, and strategy considerations below.
The overall competition at the low limits is almost identical
to what you find at the micro limits. The average player is not
very good and doesn’t pay attention.
Many players have seen poker on television and base most of
their play on what they’ve seen. They bluff too much and can’t
wait to push all their chips into the pot while saying “I’m all
in” whether you can hear them or not.
In addition to poor playing skills they tend to play too many
hands, call more than they raise, and are ripe for the picking
if you know what you’re doing. The average low limit Texas
holdem player is also impatient and ignores bankroll
requirements, pot odds, and anything else that might help them
Your goal is to be almost 100% opposite of the average low
limit player. Everything you just read should be avoided.
You should always be paying attention, play fewer hands,
remain patient, use pot odds, know and follow the proper
bankroll requirements, and raise more often than you call.
Limit vs No Limit
Other than the obvious differences between limit and no limit
play you need to be aware of a few things about low limit Texas
Once you learn the ins and outs and are able to turn a
consistent profit at this level you can make good money playing
no limit. A good player can fairly consistently win $100 or more
a day at the $100 or $200 buy in tables. While this won’t make
you rich it’s more than some people make working for a living.
The limit games are usually softer than the no limit games
but your hourly win rate is less because you can only get so
much money in the pot with your best hands.
When you first start playing online if you start at
the low limits consider playing the limit games until you’re a
consistent winner. Then switch to no limit play to accelerate
the building of your bankroll.
When you play limit holdem stick with tight starting hand
selections , play aggressively, and learn to use pot odds inside
out both when you’re betting and when you’re chasing a better
Use the same things when you switch to no limit play and add
the skills you need to read your opponents. Of course you want
to know as much as possible about your opponents while playing
limit holdem as well, but it can magnify your results playing no
Keeping a proper bankroll amount is important at every level
of Texas holdem. The amount you need to keep is somewhat related
to how good of a player you are, but even good players have
downswings and losing streaks.
Even good poker players have losing streaks at low limit
If this comes as a shock to you, brush up on your odds and
poker math skills. Every player goes through periods where the
short term variance is against them.
Even when you’re in a hand as a big favorite you probably
only have an 85 or 90% chance of winning. But most of the hands
you play have a much smaller edge even if you’re the favorite.
It’s common to have less than a 10% edge in most hands at the
If you play 100 hands and in each you have a 55% chance to
win you’ll win 55 hands and lose 45 hands. Most Texas holdem
players agree that a 55% chance of winning is a substantial
advantage and will take the odds as often as possible.
But let’s look at the actual numbers. Can you lose 10 hands
in a row and still win 55 out of 100?
Though it won’t happen often, you can and will lose 10
straight hands with only an expected win of 55%. Losing streaks
of five or six straight happen all of the time.
If you lose the first 10 hands with a 55 to 45 edge you still
only need to win 55 out of the next 90 hands to reach the
expected win rate.
Though it makes most players mad when they lose five or eight
or ten hands in a row when they were the favorite, you should be
happy when this happens. Because every hand you lose when you’re
the favorite gets one of the losses out of the way. Every string
of losses as a favorite gets you closer to the string of wins
when you’re the favorite.
Because if you can have a 10 loss streak as a favorite you
can and will have a 10 win streak as a favorite.
All of this discussion about streaks and losing when you’re
the favorite is simply to show why even winning players have to
have bankrolls large enough to keep them in the game when they
hit a rough patch.
Recommended Bankroll Size
The standard recommendation for bankroll size for limit Texas
holdem is 200 to 300 times the big blind. So if you’re playing
$1 / $2 you should have $400 to $600 in total bankroll.
Honestly, if you’re a consistent winner you should be fine at
the 200 times the big blind level at the low limits if you’re
able to block out downswings mentally.
One of the big reasons to keep a large bankroll is so you
don’t worry about anything at the table except making the most
profitable long term plays. Some players keep 500 times or more
the big blind so they’re always properly bankrolled and can jump
up a level if a juicy game opens up.
No limit Texas holdem players should have 20 to 30 times the
buy in. $100 buy in no limit players should have $2,000 to
$3,000 in total bankroll. If you want to have enough to play at
the next level if a good game becomes available every once in a
while keep as much as $5,000 or more available.
At the low limit games many recreational players don’t keep a
separate bankroll because they can easily replace or replenish
it from their regular jobs.
Keeping a Dedicated Bankroll
If you hope to move up to the medium and high levels you
should seriously consider keeping a separate bankroll and use it
only for playing poker. You can make a little money at the lower
levels but if you continue improving and building a larger
bankroll you’ll have an opportunity to make some real money at
the higher levels.
To have the best chance to do this you need to start training
your mind now and a big part of this is keeping a bankroll
separate from your other money.
At the free money tables and the micro limit tables you’re
almost forced to play straightforward poker with no bluffs or
fancy plays. At least that’s the way you’re forced to play if
you want to maximize your profit because the competition is so
Once you start playing at the low limits you can find a few
opportunities to add a few advanced plays and tactics to your
game. The important things are to not go overboard and to
recognize the places where you can alter your play profitably.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking any of this means playing
solid ABC poker isn’t profitable. If you play a straightforward
game including betting when you have a good hand, checking and
calling when you’re behind but have the correct pot odds, and
focus on strong starting hands you’ll be profitable.
But once you reach a point where you’re profitable the next
step is finding ways to improve your profitability. Here are a
couple of areas where you might be able to improve your play.
This is the lowest level of play that you should consider
bluffing unless you have a strong read on an opponent. And even
at this level you should try a bluff sparingly. If you’re
bluffing on the river more than 5%, or one out of 20 times,
you’re probably bluffing too often.
The best places to start introducing a few bluffs are on the
flop and / or turn when you can try a semi bluff from time to
A semi bluff is when you think you might have the best hand,
but if you don’t you have a draw or draws that can improve your
Take the following scenario for example.
You see the flop holding the ace of spades and jack of spades
and the flop has the king of spades, queen of spades, and the
jack of clubs. This gives you second pair with top kicker, a
flush draw, and a straight draw.
This is the perfect hand to either lead with a bet or make a
raise if an opponent bets into you.
You may have the best hand but an opponent could have a king,
two pair, or possibly a set or straight. You should be willing
to play this hand aggressively in most situations.
Even if you had the same hand without the flush draw it
offers a good place for a semi bluff. You only have four outs
for a straight, but unless the board pairs when you hit a
straight it’s the nuts. Even the few times when the board pairs
your hand is good most of the time.
By playing aggressively you’ll pick up enough uncontested
pots in this situation to make up for the times when you’re
behind and you don’t draw out.
Another tactic you can start experimenting with on a limited
basis is adding a few more starting hands to keep from being too
Most of your opponents still won’t be paying attention but
you’ll run into a few good players at the low limits. The
important thing is figuring out which ones they are so you can
alter your play when it can do the most good. In other words, it
doesn’t do you any good to alter your play if the good player
won’t see it or misses it.
Low limit Texas holdem can still be played for a profit by
anyone willing to learn how to play solid poker. You don’t have
to do anything special in order to win, but you can change up
your play from time to time.
At higher limits you often end up playing the player as much
as you play your cards. But at the low limits you still need to
focus on playing the cards first because the players are often
too unpredictable to get a good read.
Once you master the low limits with simple solid poker start
experimenting with your play. But if you find your results
suffering just go back to ABC poker and keep ramping up your
profits and bankroll.
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