Low Limit Texas Holdem Play
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 win.
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 Versus 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 holdem.
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 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 hand.
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 limit.
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.
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 holdem tables.
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.
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.
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 poor.
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 time.
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 hand.
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 predictable.
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.