Can You Learn Poker Playing Low Stakes?

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DenverChicken

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Every book, website, thread, tweet and pamphlet says learn at low stakes and only buy in at a fraction of your bankroll. BUT LOW STAKES POKER IS JUST BINGO. You’re more likely to develop bad habits than improve your game. If you open 4BB from the MP with AKs to get calls from 102o and J6s are you learning? If the 97s out of position calls your +EV c-bet on every street and hits the 2 outer on the river…are you learning?

We’re being taught how to play against knowledgeable opponents. However, the opponents at low stakes are NOT KNOWLEDGEABLE. Like learning how to swim and then being tossed in sand box. Practice they say. Start small they say. Don’t risk too much bankroll they say. I’m sorry. Playing against idiots is NOT PRACTICE. You can NOT build a bankroll at low stakes…you can NOT learn proper poker at low stakes …you just slowly piss away small bankrolls and ride waves of luck…JUST LIKE BINGO
 
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Mahereid

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You got a point there, but still this doesn't happen in every single hand, and you would be surprised to see these same "idiots" at much higher stakes.
 
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DenverChicken

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You got a point there, but still this doesn't happen in every single hand, and you would be surprised to see these same "idiots" at much higher stakes.


It happens in more than enough hands to discredit EV completely. Can’t learn that way.

They say the math always remembers and making +EV bets will always win in the long run. This may be true against knowledgeable players or against the fish at the table. But neither of those statements are true against a table of fish.
 
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JimTheBadger

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I'm sorry but if you cant adjust your game to beat players making the most basic mistakes (hand selection) how do you expect you adjust at the other stakes.

Very common misunderstanding for ppl just starting to study. If you can't take what you've learned and apply it against ppl making fundamental errors time after time there is no way you will be better at higher stakes.


Learn to make adjustments and beat the stakes your playing. BTW your prolly opening to large if that's online bet sizing.
 
Psyanide14

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I agree a bit with the op based on a single game. However in the long run, your +EV plays will make money over time. You want these players calling the way they are as the majority of the time you will win a good sized pot. It can be discouraging to lose a tournament this way but you can’t focus on a single tournament or hand...it will drive you crazy. Keep making the right plays and take advantage of their mistakes. Do you want players only to call you when they have you beat?? Over time your play will be profitable. Good luck.
 
mina271

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if you want to learn to play poker you also have to learn to adapt and to come to terms with every situation, even against the donks that sometimes exist in the micros. And things like that don't just happen in the micros, it's poker and sometimes it's not just the best hands that win. If you play strictly according to the book then you won't get any further because it is nice to know the theory, but you need practice and to know how to behave in such a case when you meet fish. You just have to be flexible and be able to adapt your game to the circumstances. And maybe you only get a few or no good examples in the micro, but I still believe that you can learn a lot there. But if you are thinking of playing that AA always has to win, for example, and you are surprised if a much worse hand has won, then you are probably not ready to play poker because something like that can always happen at any level
 
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lauestla

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Every book, website, thread, tweet and pamphlet says learn at low stakes and only buy in at a fraction of your bankroll. BUT LOW STAKES POKER IS JUST BINGO. You’re more likely to develop bad habits than improve your game. If you open 4BB from the MP with AKs to get calls from 102o and J6s are you learning? If the 97s out of position calls your +EV c-bet on every street and hits the 2 outer on the river…are you learning?

We’re being taught how to play against knowledgeable opponents. However, the opponents at low stakes are NOT KNOWLEDGEABLE. Like learning how to swim and then being tossed in sand box. Practice they say. Start small they say. Don’t risk too much bankroll they say. I’m sorry. Playing against idiots is NOT PRACTICE. You can NOT build a bankroll at low stakes…you can NOT learn proper poker at low stakes …you just slowly piss away small bankrolls and ride waves of luck…JUST LIKE BINGO

It depends on which room you are playing. First if you don’t want to face idiots forget 888.
pokerstars is a better choice.
Second: if you play SNGs with a minimum buy-in of $5 you won’t meet a lot of donkeys shoving with bulshit.
Very skilled players are gonna explain you that you just have to adjust your game to the donkeys and that you are gonna win at the long run. It is true… if your bankroll can survive to the number of bad beats you are gonna face.
Personally when I shove preflop with the nuts and get called by 2 4 immediatly hitting 356… I have some doubts :D.
But if you avoid the micro stakes your chances to win by playing TAG game are gonna increase.
Good luck!
 
Alex Sentsov

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I see that you take it to heart. Don't worry so much. I agree with your conclusions 100%.
 
Whaevoz

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Playing low stakes poker will help you learn the basics and how to play... low stakes poker!

Higher stakes require a different strategy.
 
terryk

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If you can't beat the "bad" players,,,you certainly won't beat the Good players,,, :deal:
 
YYfourU

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I start low stakes and play my way up. Every time I reach a breaking point I move up stakes. Start at 5cent 10 cent and work my way all the way up to 2$-5$. And as you make your way thru the tiers your game changes and your opponents change, try it, move up when u win.
 
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ph_il

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Every book, website, thread, tweet and pamphlet says learn at low stakes and only buy in at a fraction of your bankroll. BUT LOW STAKES POKER IS JUST BINGO.
...it's not, though. it might seem like bingo because how bad many microstakes players play, but that should not have an affect on your decisions and how you play. if you're looking to play proper poker and improve your game, being able to handle and learn how to profit off of the bad players at the microstakes is a great stepping stone to do so. if you can't handle the bad players or your game is affective negatively because of them, then you likely have some leaks you need to plug and things you need to work on before you can improve.

You’re more likely to develop bad habits than improve your game.
...only if you fall into bad habits and start making -ev decisions.

If you open 4BB from the MP with AKs to get calls from 102o and J6s are you learning?
...yes, absolutely. what are not learning here? think about it? just don't look at what hands are calling you or maybe the fact that you lost. what about value. what good is knowing your opponent is willing to call of raises with j6s? how about the fact you can make a ton of money off of them because they do so? i can open my range more against them, i can raise more for more value, and i get them to stack off when they overly commit to draws or 2nd pair. so many good things.

If the 97s out of position calls your +EV c-bet on every street and hits the 2 outer on the river…are you learning?
...yes. seriously, yes. so much. in what way is this a bad situation to be in? stop focusing on the fact that you lost as 95% favorite on the river and think about how much value you're printing here. if they're calling off when you're a 98% favorite, think about how many times they're paying you off in other situations.

We’re being taught how to play against knowledgeable opponents. However, the opponents at low stakes are NOT KNOWLEDGEABLE.
...and thats a problem because...?

Like learning how to swim and then being tossed in sand box. Practice they say. Start small they say. Don’t risk too much bankroll they say. I’m sorry. Playing against idiots is NOT PRACTICE. You can NOT build a bankroll at low stakes…you can NOT learn proper poker at low stakes …you just slowly piss away small bankrolls and ride waves of luck…JUST LIKE BINGO
...completely disagree. i admit that it took me a long time to profit from the microstakes and it look of time, learning, improving, and understanding before that happened, but it's not impossible.

in my opinion, many microstakes players have problems because they're not willing to make the proper adjustments to play against bad players. sometimes playing tighter is necessary, but that can be boring. sometimes it can be hard seeing players win big pots with random hands, but you need to think long term. how often is a player winning if they jam 29o preflop in the long run? how well are you doing in the long run by folding those hands? some microstakes players, even if they're willing and trying to improve might find themselves getting caught up in the hype of playing bad hands and getting lucky. after all, if it works for others, why not them right? the problem is, again, long term profitability.

there are so many things to mention that i can't cover them all but, basically, in order to beat microstakes, you just to make better decisions than your opponents and play spots when you're +ev as often as possible for max value. it's, honestly, that simple but not everyone is willing to do that. and that's the issue a lot of microstakes players have. they don't want to do that. they don't want to fold a lot of hands or not play spots where they're behind. they want to be like the person that goes all in and has won 5 times in a row. go for that excitement if you want, but don't be surprised if it doesn't pay off in the long run.

at the same time, if you want to get far, you have to be willing to play your strong hands for max value, especially against opponents willing to pay you off. you can't worry about your ak < j6s or your aces busting against someone that jams 29o preflop or someone calls your bets and hits a 2 outer on the river. it's going to happen, it doesn't matter. what matters is your equity in the hand. the more equity, the more often you're going to win. the more often you win, the more value your get, and the more you should be willing to play. don't think about the times you lose as a huge equity favorite, think about many many more times you win.
above.

i only play micro-stakes mtts. i think, in general, the same applies to micro-stakes cash games, but with maybe some slight differences.
 
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DenverChicken

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I want to thank you all for the replies, advice and even the tough love. I respect the members of this site and appreciate the feedback.

To be honest, I spent an embarrassingly long couple of years and an exorbitant of money to get to a point where I was modestly profitable. I even got to a 3 month ROI over 45% at small to mid-stakes a few weeks back. Then I went on a week long bad run, so I re-read my favorite book (Annie’s Deciding to Play Great Poker) and a new book (Moorman’s Book of Poker) to no avail. I decided to go back to micro and low stakes to shake out some fundamental flaws and/or pinpoint a couple of specific areas consistently giving me problems. After playing TAG and losing several sessions in a row, I was getting frustrated. I kept reviewing those hands in hopes of figuring out to “adjust my game” as is the prevailing advice. I kept finding opponent mistakes (from multiple different opponents) at different times and in different scenarios that are just damn near impossible
to imagine. It is really hard to identify any of your own shortcomings in the chaotic environment like low and micro stakes where just about everyone has more shortcomings.

That made me think back to my early days of trying to apply proper strategy at the micro stakes level. I realized that during that time I developed a mistrust of the basic math and built some very bad habits that definitely didn’t accelerate my learning. Fortunately I gradually regained the trust in EV and corrected most of those bad habits when I moved up to higher stakes.

I don’t have the perfect workflow for becoming a good poker player. But I do seriously wonder if playing micro and low stakes is a good way to develop a solid foundation. I definitely need to figure out a better way to hone skills and crawl out of a bad run. Any advice you have is very much appreciated.
 
Roller

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Every book, website, thread, tweet and pamphlet says learn at low stakes and only buy in at a fraction of your bankroll. BUT LOW STAKES POKER IS JUST BINGO. You’re more likely to develop bad habits than improve your game. If you open 4BB from the MP with AKs to get calls from 102o and J6s are you learning? If the 97s out of position calls your +EV c-bet on every street and hits the 2 outer on the river…are you learning?

We’re being taught how to play against knowledgeable opponents. However, the opponents at low stakes are NOT KNOWLEDGEABLE. Like learning how to swim and then being tossed in sand box. Practice they say. Start small they say. Don’t risk too much bankroll they say. I’m sorry. Playing against idiots is NOT PRACTICE. You can NOT build a bankroll at low stakes…you can NOT learn proper poker at low stakes …you just slowly piss away small bankrolls and ride waves of luck…JUST LIKE BINGO


Accurate and some funny shit included.
Continually play against such players and improvement is very unlikely
 
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JimTheBadger

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I want to thank you all for the replies, advice and even the tough love. I respect the members of this site and appreciate the feedback.

To be honest, I spent an embarrassingly long couple of years and an exorbitant of money to get to a point where I was modestly profitable. I even got to a 3 month ROI over 45% at small to mid-stakes a few weeks back. Then I went on a week long bad run, so I re-read my favorite book (Annie’s Deciding to Play Great Poker) and a new book (Moorman’s Book of Poker) to no avail. I decided to go back to micro and low stakes to shake out some fundamental flaws and/or pinpoint a couple of specific areas consistently giving me problems. After playing TAG and losing several sessions in a row, I was getting frustrated. I kept reviewing those hands in hopes of figuring out to “adjust my game” as is the prevailing advice. I kept finding opponent mistakes (from multiple different opponents) at different times and in different scenarios that are just damn near impossible
to imagine. It is really hard to identify any of your own shortcomings in the chaotic environment like low and micro stakes where just about everyone has more shortcomings.

That made me think back to my early days of trying to apply proper strategy at the micro stakes level. I realized that during that time I developed a mistrust of the basic math and built some very bad habits that definitely didn’t accelerate my learning. Fortunately I gradually regained the trust in EV and corrected most of those bad habits when I moved up to higher stakes.

I don’t have the perfect workflow for becoming a good poker player. But I do seriously wonder if playing micro and low stakes is a good way to develop a solid foundation. I definitely need to figure out a better way to hone skills and crawl out of a bad run. Any advice you have is very much appreciated.



Here's the thing, if you think you have the skill to be beat higher stakes, you should have the skills to beat the Micros. Your educational tools are a bit outdated imo. I think first start working with some tools like equilab and start tracking your stats with a hud. I'd stay away from books printed over 5 years ago. (poker books are trash imo and only one I'd recommend is The Mental Game of Poker)

I'm not sure if your a tournament or cash player but there are resources available. Most of them are paid but most also have free versions to use that will help you. For my tournament play I use Floptimal, Snapshove, Poker tracker4 and Equilab. I also am studying using Apestyles bundle on BBZ.

For cash I'm less aware of what's out there. I don't study cash a ton so not sure what is out there for that.

My advice is study, study, study, until you have the ability to beat the micros at a decent volume.
 
Aleks75

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Hello friend!
I play freerolls and microlemites myself.Irga at micro-limits is needed to strengthen discipline and improve skills.If you beat your limits, you can go for higher ones-otherwise, money is wasted.
 
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fundiver199

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Others have said it already, but the simple fact is, if you are unable to beat the worst players in the game, then there is no chance, you are going to be able to beat better players in higher stakes games. Barring a situation, where the rake decline substantially with stakes, higher stakes games are always going to be more difficult to beat not easier.

It’s a common misconception among serious but relatively inexperienced players, that the amount of luck, bad players receive, is just to much for anyone to overcome. But this is basically nonsense. Bad players receive no more good or bad luck than good players, and in the long run they can not overcome math.

What they do is drive variance up a bit, because they fold less, and this mean, they get to showdown more often and realise more of their equity. So where you might win a lot of small pots without showdown against good players, against bad players you will win larger pot on average, but you will also get drawn out on more often.

This can be annoying, but if it puts you on tilt, that is an issue in your own mental game. Using words like “bingo” indicate, that you cant stand the fact, there is a luck element in poker. But this is part of the game, so its something, you need to accept and be at piece with. You will also get lucky sometimes and for instance turn a higher set, when someone flopped a set against your overpair.

Finally its probably not true, that everyone in your games are “idiots”. I have yet to come across any kind of games, where that description fits the entire player population. What you much more commonly find is a mixture of decent serious players AKA “regulars” and some recreational/fish/funplayers whatever you want to call them.

And even the latter are not nessesarely “idiots”. They might have flaws in their game like bad preflop discipline, but that does not mean, they are totally clueless in any aspect of the game. So if you are struggling to beat the games, you play in, maybe part of the reason is, you need to give a bit more respect to your opponents and work on your tilt issues.

With all that being said, how low you select to start can obviously also depend on, how much money you are willing to put at risk and potentially lose. If for instance you have 10.000$, which it would not hurt you to lose on poker, nobody say, that you have to spend endless time playing 1,1$ tournaments before trying anything higher. It is allowed to skip the lowest limits and start a bit higher, as long as you are only playing for money, you can afford to lose. Just don’t expect, that its easier to win at higher limits, or that bad beats and suckouts will never happen.
 
ChickenArise

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You can learn everything except bluffing at the lower stakes. When you are ready to work on your bluff game, which is outside of the fundamentals of a good base strategy, you have to move up.
 
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I believe that you should start with low stakes and take advantage of the mistakes made by players who play this limit.


 
Luvepoker

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Every book, website, thread, tweet and pamphlet says learn at low stakes and only buy in at a fraction of your bankroll. BUT LOW STAKES POKER IS JUST BINGO. You’re more likely to develop bad habits than improve your game. If you open 4BB from the MP with AKs to get calls from 102o and J6s are you learning? If the 97s out of position calls your +EV c-bet on every street and hits the 2 outer on the river…are you learning?

We’re being taught how to play against knowledgeable opponents. However, the opponents at low stakes are NOT KNOWLEDGEABLE. Like learning how to swim and then being tossed in sand box. Practice they say. Start small they say. Don’t risk too much bankroll they say. I’m sorry. Playing against idiots is NOT PRACTICE. You can NOT build a bankroll at low stakes…you can NOT learn proper poker at low stakes …you just slowly piss away small bankrolls and ride waves of luck…JUST LIKE BINGO

Disagree with you. While your correct there are many bad players at this level it is a great place to learn the game. There was a professional poker player who once said, if you cant beat the lowest stakes you will never beat the better ones.

As for as you put it idiots, I watched a gut call an all in for $200.00 on the river with ten high. I played in the WPT main and saw someone call an all in with queen high and even at the wsop saw players make calls that for the life of me made no sense at all. Its not just the lower levels but it happens live too. Not nearly as much but it happens. As for building a bankroll, I am sure many can show they have. Not saying its easy or even worth doing it but there are people who do
 
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suitedsadness

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If you aren't able to adjust to bad players at small stakes, I can't fathom why you would want to move up and play against people that make less mistakes, pay more attention to any leaks YOU might have, and have a level of understanding far above your own. Even as you move up stakes, the bulk of your poker income comes from exploiting the worst players you can find.
 
KozakAlex

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That's right, I don't see the point of playing by strategies. But I know them, it helps to realize in the game what kind of hand the ooponent has, who plays according to strategies. Sometimes I bluff under strategic schemes, like, as I have it, although it is not. There are really a lot of idiots. And Dwan Dyur may not be a particularly smart person either? But he bluffs a lot and wins. I advise you to watch how the professionals play. They don't use any strategies. They play according to the situation at the table based on the opponents ' game.
 
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Canwai

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Go for it buddy, bet big against experienced players. Go all out and kill the sharks. Go super man
jajajaja
 
Jason Bralli

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you just slowly piss away small bankrolls and ride waves of luck…JUST LIKE BINGO


if you are spending your bank account on micro limits, believe me, you are not even prepared for micro limits, something wrong you are doing!

Have you tried to review your game and yourself, instead of trying to blame the opponent?

Try to adjust your game, and remember, micro limits are no bluff, either you have the best hand and win, or you fold!

GL ;)
 
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DenverChicken

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If you aren't able to adjust to bad players at small stakes, I can't fathom why you would want to move up and play against people that make less mistakes, pay more attention to any leaks YOU might have, and have a level of understanding far above your own. Even as you move up stakes, the bulk of your poker income comes from exploiting the worst players you can find.


Please see reply #13. Then I challenge you to play a session at micro and get back to us.
 
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