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