Most players who are new to online poker will start at the lowest stakes possible, commonly known as “Microstakes”. In general, microstakes are considered to be any poker stakes up to $0.10/$0.25 blinds in NL and $0.50/$1.00 in Limit games.
The concept of bankroll management generally escapes those new to poker. Some new players deposit $50-$100 and immediately go to the highest stakes possible, busting their deposit in only a matter of minutes. This is where the microstakes levels come in handy. Basic bankroll management should have a player holding at least 20 buy-ins for a given level (ex: $40 at $.01/.02 NL). Therefore, a player who is only able to deposit $50 can still be bankrolled for the lowest levels found online. Once a player earns enough to have 20 buy-ins for the next level, he/she should move up.
What can be difficult is finding a poker site offering these stakes. Recently the bigger name sites have started to include these levels in all of their games. The best sites to play microstakes on line are PokerStars, FullTilt Poker, Party Poker, and iPoker. These sites will all have extremely low stakes with plenty of action.
Those deciding to go the conservative, microstakes route will find a large player pool full of awful poker players. While these players can be frustrating to play against, make no mistake, they are the easiest opponents online. Some new players convince themselves that players at higher-stakes are easier to beat because they play more straightforward. Unfortunately this is faulty thinking which results in players busting their rolls by moving up too quickly. If you cannot beat the worst players on the internet, there is no reason to believe you can beat the best!
A fairly basic strategy will involve playing a tight, strong pre-flop hand range. Post-flop strategy will involve little bluffing, with a lot of value-betting. Pre-flop hand selection is extremely important in NL Hold’em. Playing the wrong types of hands in certain positions can put players in marginal spots, turning them into losing poker players. From the first few positions tight is right. Players should concentrate on only playing big Aces (AJ,AQ,AK) and pocket pairs. In later positions, players can begin to play more hands such as broadway cards (KQ,KJ,QJ) and some suited-connectors (67s-JTs). These hands fare much better when played in position post-flop, which is why they are better to fold from early position pre-flop.
As for post-flop play, against the type of players encountered in microstakes, bluffing will get you nowhere. While bluffing is very difficult to do against players who rarely fold, it makes value betting that much easier. There are many new players who will complain about the fish who never fold, yet those same players are guilty of not value-betting their strong hands enough. If you are fortunate enough to make a strong hand against a fish, make sure you bet big and bet often, as they tend to hate folding.
Overall, microstakes can be a great introduction to online poker. For those who cannot deposit a large sum, it is the only solution. Make sure to stay patient and move up and down in levels as dictated by your bankroll. Finally, focus on improving your poker fundamentals as you take on the fishiest players online!
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