Over the past twelve months, I have been observing the lower stakes no-limit games and playing in them quite extensively including around 100k hands at NL50. I have been observing the games on Pokerloco recently which is a site that is situated on Ongame. I have been hearing some good reports and so decided to check it out.
I was asked by a friend to look at the lower stakes no-limit full ring games preferably ones that are lower than NL50. I think that there is a definite difference in skill between NL25 and NL50. I rarely played below NL50 as I could never treat the money seriously enough. Although at times that could be said for every level that I have ever played but that’s a different story.
What I noticed or what I noticed in the NL25 games that I played in (it wasn’t that many) was that bluffing was more difficult. I was definitely bleeding money trying to do the things that were successful at NL50 that’s for sure. I think that a greater degree of patience is required in NL25 and more and more players will call you down lighter than they would at NL50.
I think that the reason for this is purely because they are worse players and are not differentiating between hands and how they fit in with the flop and the action. So trying to shove these players out of the pot even in heads up situations is basically allowing them to play more optimal poker.
Why is that? Well if your opponents are loose calling stations and you are bluffing then they are correct to call you if they knew what you had (Theory of Poker). In fact of course in many cases they would be correct to raise instead of call but they are weak players so raising with mediocre and weak hands isn’t in their arsenal of weapons.
So by increasing your bluffing ratios against these players, you are in fact allowing them to make really good calls. The knock on effect from this is that the amounts that you are losing are substantial when compared to the amounts that you win when they fold on the flop. It took me a while to realise how much different NL25 was to NL50 and that I could basically play NL25 in a sort of quasi limit way by waiting for good starting cards most of the time and simply value betting them.
Implied odds also increased with hands like pocket pairs and suited aces simply because less pots were being raised pre-flop and more players were limping in. I then kind of developed a limit hold ‘em mindset which kind of sounds a bit weird when you are playing no-limit but I found that NL25 and below had many similarities to limit hold ‘em.
At NL50 it was often a mistake to limp in from early position with a hand like As-8s as the average tightness of the games meant that most pots were not multi-way. Someone would likely attack from position and especially if there were decent regulars in the later seats.
So your implied odds were simply not there most of the time and even small pocket pairs didn’t seem to play well if your only option to play the hand was to open limp or raise! But NL25 and below is purely about pot odds and implied odds and in a way, almost plays like a conventional no-limit game.
This then sounds contradictory to what I have just said regarding how NL25 games and below resemble limit games, but I did say that they had similarities and not that they were identical. But to get to the crucial point of this article, if you are playing at NL25 or below then try to cut the bluffing and pressure plays to a minimum. I don’t think that you need to use tracking software either. I use Poker Office but I just don’t think that it is needed at these levels.
If you want to get a decent hourly rate from these games then you are going to have to multi-table anyway so using a HUD on so many tables will be problematical. But if you can get into a tight-solid mindset where your bluffs are minimised and your value bets are maximised (even on mediocre holdings) then you can really begin to make these levels pay and with a decent rakeback deal, you can actually begin to do quite well.