It’s hard to miss the fact that the last two winners of the World Series of Poker were not professional poker players and that Chris Moneymaker (2003) and Greg Raymer (2004) are online players. It’s no wonder that online poker is exploding. With so many new online players it’s feeding frenzy for the skilled player, or even the player with a modest amount of skills. So for all the new to limit Texas Hold ‘Em players who would like to improve their chance of winning at the micro limit tables, I’ve put together some very basic tips which should help you to win consistently. These tips will work for most online tables with limits of $0.50/$1.00 and lower, which are excellent limits for honing your skills.It’s important to realize that strategies vary for different limits, due to the amount of money involved and the general skill of the players at the table. Micro limit poker has interesting dynamics and culture due to the fact that the amount wagered at any time is not a lot of money. Many of the significant cultural differences between micro limit and the higher limit tables can be broken down into these key observations. (Throughout this article I will use common shorthand to represent the cards. AK means an ace and a king. T8 means a ten and an 8. QJs means queen jack suited, while QJo means queen jack off suited. Kx means a king and a card of no significance to the hand. A common term used will be connectors, which means cards connected in rank, such as 76 or T9.) Typically 50% or more of the players at a table will pay to see the flop. This is due, in part, to the very low limits causing many players to always call the big blind since it doesn’t cost too much; it’s low risk. The other reason is that these micro limit tables have many more players of lower skill levels. They often call with lousy starting cards when they should fold. Raising preflop does little to chase out players. Players who have not contributed to the pot yet may still call.
Players who had already called will not typically fold after they’ve been raised. Very few players will fold an Ax (ace and a low card) or a hand with a face card. After the deal there are 20 hole cards. Probability says that there is approximately 1.5 of each card rank. There will be 1.5 Aces, 1.5 Kings, 1.5 Queens, etc. Unskilled players will hold any two suited cards in hopes of a flush, even something as bad as 72. Unskilled players will call to the river with a weak pair no matter what.Now that the observations are out of the way, I can get on with the strategy of how to win playing at these micro limit tables.PreflopThe objective here is to go into the flop with a strong position or fold. Unless you are getting a streak of good cards, you should be folding preflop 60-70% of the time.1. Fold all but strong hands preflop. Strong hands are any pair, AK, AQ, AJ, AT, Axs, KQ, plus high suited connectors. The more players who see the flop, the lower your odds are of winning. So if you are going to put money into the pot, put it in when you have a strong hand.2. Don’t protect your blind. If you are in the small blind or big blind and you don’t have a strong hand don’t call a raise. Too many players in the blinds will call a raise because they’ve already invested the blind. But since most players like to limp in (call the big blind) preflop, a raise is a good indication the player is sitting on a strong hand, like AK or a pocket pair. 3. If you have a very strong hand preflop, raise. First of all, if you do happen to chase out a player or two with the raise then the odds of your strong hand winning have improved. Second, a strong hand has a good chance of winning the pot, so you want to get as large a pot as possible. Third, you show strength, which can help you to chase out players later on. PostflopSo now you’ve made it to the flop with a strong hand. Does the flop help you or hurt you? Arguably there is not much in between because with five or more players seeing the flop there’s bound to be someone that benefits from the flop, and if someone else benefits and you don’t, then the flop hurt you. 4. Know what a draw drawing hand is. For example, a flush draw or a straight draw means that you need one card to complete the flush or the straight. Many unskilled players make the mistake that needing two cards to complete your hand is a drawing hand.