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ISF – Five Rules To Beating Low Stakes

I have to admit, most of my articles give advice that is hard to understand. When you don’t understand preliminary concepts to the ideas of talking about, it’s almost impossible to truly understand anything I or high stakes players talk about. In later articles I’m going to try to use examples where the opponents are similar to the donks and fish you encounter when you’re playing 25nl, 50nl… at any stakes really, and hopefully that will help you understand. But poker isn’t a ladder; you don’t have to climb it from the bottom to the top. However, often people start at the bottom of the ladder, when really the best way to learn the game is to start at the top and work your way down.



What do I mean by this? Well, often I talk about abstract concepts such as ranges, exploiting, frequencies, etc. Yet, people think of these concepts as “Advanced” or “For high stakes,” just because it can’t be told to you in a rule or in a sentence, when really all these concepts are fundamental components of the game. Think of poker like a tree. Yes, we have branches, such as betting the turn and raising preflop with 97s, but those branches are based on the trunk and roots. If you understand how the roots and trunk work, such as the “advanced” concepts I stated in the beginning, you can easily understand correct moves in the branches. Nevertheless, learning is not a quick process.

But being a low stakes player is much like being stuck with high interest credit card debt. The unskilled player base often is generalized by two leaks in every facet of their game. They call too much and they are too passive. This means certain plays such as bluffing, which is best versus aggressive players who can fold, are completely disregarded. And because these concepts are disregarded, important knowledge about the game is lost. Even worse, a player completely lost in essential knowledge of the game can only improve when they are given advice by better players and through trial and error of their results.

So when you read my articles, no matter how much you think its not applicable to fish, donks, or whatever you like calling them, it is applicable. Try to understand how to apply it to the people you play with. It’s like online poker professional Ben “Sauce123” Sulsky told me in my interview with him: It’s like if Michael Jordan came up to you to teach you the art of the jump shot and advocated lifting the ball over your head. It would be stupid to tell him “Well, everyone in my game shoots underhanded, so I should stick with that.” It’s the same game guys.

Nonetheless, it can be helpful to follow rules to give you an immediate boost in your winrate. Sometimes players are so lost they need to be pointed in the right direction. And sometimes your just doing 1 or 2 things wrong, and you need a check up. So I have made ISF’s five rules to beating low stakes, which I guarantee if you follow you will be a winner all the way up to 200nl!

Rule #1: Play tight preflop

When playing loose and passive players, much of the time we find ourselves versus ranges that are surprisingly balanced. The opponent isn’t raising with his semi strong hands, medium, or weak hands. Because of this, bluffing becomes tough, as it always is versus a balanced range. Therefore, you don’t want to find yourself without a hand versus these opponents. And what’s the best way to always find yourself with a hand? Playing tight preflop. Like, really tight. In a datamine of 100nl this month, guess what the stats were for the two biggest winners in the game? 12/10 and 12/6. You don’t have to play that tight, but there’s really no reason to play a lot of hands versus players who have no clue.

Rule #2: Play tight Out of Postion (OOP)

This may be the biggest leak among starting players. They call raises from the blinds with anything suited, and any face cards. But even calling with a hand like ATo, 22, KJo, or a suited connector can be a huge leak. In the games I play in, it often isn’t, so good players will pass down this knowledge, but in your games it likely is a big leak. Remember my article on preflop? Even with very good players AJo is a losing hand UTG.

Rule #3: If you have a hand you are planning on calling a bet with, you should bet rather than check.

For more on this look here.

The rest are self explanatory.

Rule #4: Bet/Bet/Raise/Bet/Bet/Raise/Raise….. you get the picture. Do that with your nut hands. Don’t get tricky unless you have quads or the deck completely crippled.

Rule #5: If you aren’t at a table with at least 3 donks find another table.

That’s it for this week!

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