7 Dec

FL Holdem: The Safer Way to Play Poker Online

Protect Your Hide and Your Bankroll with Fixed Limit Poker Games

Protect your hide and your bankroll by restricting yourself to fixed limit poker.

Beginner poker players who experience early success – even if it’s against a group of friends – have a tendency to jump head-first into shark infested waters. They believe that same success will carry over to bigger games, for larger stakes. But I assure you, there is a reason these players are called fish.

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The pros and seasoned veterans can’t wait to tear them apart. The best players may collect big prizes in tournaments and high stakes cash games, but fish are the proverbial bread and butter of every shark’s diet – especially in the online poker realm, where their sharp teeth are harder to recognize.

Fortunately, there is one good way to ensure you don’t come up against too many sharks. It’s also a good way to protect your bankroll from being prematurely siphoned into another player’s chip stack. I’m talking about what internet poker players know by the convenient little acronym, “FLHE”.

Fixed Limit Poker: The Safer Way to Play

Fixed Limit Holdem (FLHE) isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Then again, that’s why it comes so highly recommended for beginners. Unlike No Limit Holdem (NLHE) games, you can’t lose your entire stack on one bad decision – a mistake newcomers to the felt make far too often.

In a FL Holdem game, you are restricted to placing all bets and raises within the confines of the table stakes. If the stakes are $1/$2, you cannot bet or raise more than $2 at a time, and only in the latter stages.

Here’s how it works. For ease of explanation, we’ll say the stakes are $2/$4 FLHE. The small blind is required to post half the low-end stakes, so $1. The big blind is equal to the low-end stakes of $2. During pre-flop and post-flop betting, all bets and raises must be equal to the big blind of $2. During the last two betting stages, the Turn and the River, bets increase to match the high-end stakes of $4.

A NL Holdem game has no such restrictions. While the blinds and minimum bets/raises are determined by the stakes, there is no cap on wagers. Any player can shove as many chips as they want – they’re entire stack, if they like – into the pot on any betting round.

Why Don’t Pros Play FL Holdem Games?

It’s not that they don’t play FL Holdem at all, but the number of highly skilled players at FL tables is drastically reduced; the reason being that it’s just not as profitable for them. A poker pro has the seemingly uncanny ability to decipher the hands of their opponents – no, they’re not psychic; they’re just really good at reading people and hand situations, and predicting behavior based on probabilities – and as such, they can take great advantage of an opportunity.

The pros know when to place large bets against a weak opponent, or shove all-in to scare a probable draw hand off the pot. NL Holdem games give them a wider arsenal to work with. Playing FL might give them greater access to fish, but with fewer weapons to catch them, the appeal just isn’t there. And at lower FL stakes, inexperienced fish are more likely to take risks on a bad hand (simply because it’s cheap to do so) only to hit a lucky break on the river. Plays like these become leaks for skilled veterans, who find they’re better off avoiding such situations altogether.

Choosing the Right Fixed Limit Games

If your purpose is to gain experience without being devoured by sharks, you’ll want to steer clear of the higher stakes fixed limit poker tables. Lower stakes, ranging from $0.02/$0.04 to $2/$4 at most, are the better option.

Don’t go over your budget, either. If you only have $50 to work with, you’re not going to last long at $2/$4. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to buy-in with at least 40x the high-end stakes, and it shouldn’t take more than 10% of your total bankroll to do it. From there, take it slow, pay close attention to every little detail, and maybe you can work your way into NLHE games over time.

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