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Choosing Your Stakes at Limit Hold’em

In this article I would like to discuss just what you can expect to find at various levels these days at six handed limit. Gone are the old days when a good strong solid player could make a living playing $20-$40 online with just the rudiments of the game as a weapon.

These days, limit hold’em has suffered probably more than any other form of poker with regards how players have got the game all figured out. So just what can players expect when they play this form of poker? As always with online poker, the new fish and novice players come in at the bottom end.

They frequent the play money tables and when they elect to play, they tend to make it micro stakes and low stakes only. The variance in limit means that these players can survive for long periods of time. When you hear about professional players needing bankrolls as high as 1000 big bets then this is just an indication of how the game is going.

Years ago bankrolls of 250 big bets would have been sufficient at almost any level. In my mind the micro limits can be anything up to probably around $0.10-$0.20 and these are not serious games at all. The play is still very weak in these games and it is so weak that I would definitely recommend that any player who is serious about the game starts higher up the ladder.

You will make money at these games with a relatively small bankroll and good sound solid play. If you can take advantage of sign up bonuses and rakeback, then there is no reason as to why you cannot grind out profits in these games. I would describe anything from $0.25-$0.50 to $3-$6 as low limit. Although it would definitely be a mistake to classify the level of play in all of these levels as similar. I have watched these games on Pokerloco a lot recently and I know them to be good.

I have played in some $3-$6 games where the level of play has been very strong. If this surprises you then remember that there has been a massive compression of skill with regards online poker over the past couple of years. No longer are the top pro’s playing high-stakes; they are now multi-tabling the middle limits earning more rakeback and finding more value.

Most players at the middle limits of a few years ago have also dropped down and are now plying their trade multi-tabling the lower middle limits. But the low-stakes games are still easily beatable. Once again, if you have a rakeback scheme in place and/or a sign-up bonus, then making money at this level should be relatively straight forward.

The $4-$8 level to $10-$20 level is what I call the middle limits and this is where we see a massive increase in skill. Many professional players and props will show up in these games. Now we have the added factor of more and more players who are on mentor schemes and trader programs so these players are properly bankrolled and have money managers and coaches behind them.

These are tough levels to beat these days and I can only see them getting tougher. At these levels you will have to start tabling selecting more and playing more tricky and changing your ranges to adapt to playing against more advanced players.

Beating the middle limits means that you are in very select company. On some sites $25-$50 is offered and this used to be the case on Betfair a few years ago. But $25-$50 to $75-$150 is what I would classify as high limit. These games are populated by some of the best players, not only on your site, but in the world. The players that now frequent these games are the players who often play heads-up but cannot find any action so they jump in and play some semi-short handed poker.

You will definitely need either to have a near technically perfect game to play these levels today or your table selection processes will need to be very good. There will simply not be many profitable games at these levels and the fish will soon be gone so finding them will be difficult.

If you want to play higher than this then good luck to you because you will need it. Either that or you are now in very powerful company indeed. Your bankroll at high-stakes limit play will need to start at 500 big bets and you will no doubt need more than that. Simply moving up will not be good enough. You will now have to play a whole new different style of poker and that means very much going back to school. You may have to lose a substantial amount of money before you find your feet at these levels.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson can be seen at his blog at www.pokersharkpool.com.

Carl Sampson

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