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Beginner Mistakes in Low-Stakes Poker

Home » Beginner Mistakes in Low-Stakes Poker

Beginner Mistakes in Low-Stakes Poker

A poker player holds their head in one hand and clenches the other while leaning on a poker table. There are playing cards, stacks of poker chips, and an empty wallet on the table.

Low-stakes poker, which is also known as small-stakes poker, is a great way for many beginners to learn the ins and outs of the game without taking on too much financial risk. But being beginners, mistakes are going to happen. 

Here are five of the most common poker mistakes that beginners make in low-stakes offline and online poker games.

Understanding Low-Stakes Poker

There are five different categories of stakes when it comes to poker, including:

  1. Micro-stakes.
  2. Small- or low-stakes.
  3. Mid-stakes.
  4. High-stakes.
  5. Nosebleeds.

Micro-stakes offer the lowest barrier to entry in terms of cost, which also makes it open to all skill levels. Nosebleeds are by far the most expensive and are too costly for the majority of poker players. However, while this category is home to many of the most skilled individuals, it is also a category for people who have a lot of money, regardless of how good (or bad) they are at the game. 

As you can see from the list above, low-stakes poker sits between micro- and mid-stakes games. Generally, the minimum buy-in for low-stakes online poker games is between $0.25 and $1, although this can vary depending on which poker site you play at or if you’re taking part in a poker tournament. It can also cost more if you’re playing poker in person at a casino.

This is the category where consistent players can start to make some decent money, and you may find some semi-professional or even professional low-stakes players here. This is because these players (also known as grinders) adopt beginner poker strategies to get an edge on the majority of their opponents. However, this category of players aren’t thinking about more advanced elements of the game, like how to get better at ranges

Beginner Mistakes in Low-Stakes Poker and How To Fix Them

However, despite some players managing to make money in this category, the majority of players make a lot of mistakes. Here are some of the biggest poker mistakes that this category of players make, as well as some quick poker beginner tips on how to fix them.

1. Not Interested in Learning and Self-Study

Some players have an almost intuitive understanding of poker, which usually comes with having played a lot of games. However, these players aren’t often invested in putting in the time to learn or study the game. Whether it’s so that they can solidify their existing knowledge or improve, these players aren’t interested in reading blogs or books on poker, reviewing their games, or maybe even talking to other competitive low-stakes poker players.

This is both the easiest and hardest issue to address. If a player doesn’t have the motivation to learn, it can be difficult to take that first step. The good news is that if you’re already here, this is likely not a problem for you. 

If you do struggle to maintain your motivation, the article “How To Find the Motivation To Study” from Victoria University of Melbourne, Australia, provides tips you can take advantage of. Here are some of the points that poker players will likely find relevant.

  • Discover what motivates you to study.
  • Remember your “why.”
  • Set clear goals.
  • Celebrate small study goals.
  • Set up a study plan.
  • Avoid procrastination.
  • Create an encouraging study space.
  • Find a study group or buddy.

2. Not Managing Bankrolls Correctly

A close-up of $100 bills with stacks of poker chips in the background.

Another problem that beginner players struggle with is incorrectly managing their bankroll, which is the money they use for their games. Bankroll problems can appear in a number of ways. For example, players may not even have a bankroll specifically set aside, which can lead to accidental overspending. Players who do have a specific poker budget may not keep an eye on their stack size during their games, let alone know how to take advantage of it, and before they know it, it’s gone. Another issue is that they don’t know when to correctly raise, call, or fold, leading to unnecessary losses.

To help overcome bankroll problems like these, here are some tips to help you better manage your poker budget.

  • Have a bankroll that’s separate from the rest of your money so you don’t accidentally end up dipping into money for rent, food, or any other bills that you have to pay.
  • Set a bankroll for each game, session, day, week, or month, depending on what suits your needs. How much you choose to spend will depend on what your regular income is and what you are comfortable risking. Do not use money that is needed elsewhere or borrow any on the chance that you’ll win and be able to pay it back.
  • Only put money down on poker variants that you are familiar with. If you are still learning the basics of a particular version of poker, rather find a way to practice that doesn’t eat into your bankroll. 
  • Track your spending, as well as your wins and losses, so that you know how much you are committing to the game over time.
  • If you find yourself losing too often at low-stakes games, consider dropping to micro-stakes until you get better at the game. This may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it may be that you’re simply not ready for this category.

3. Being Focused on Short-term Results

Many beginners don’t understand that poker is a marathon. Not a sprint. All that this means is that players shouldn’t worry too much about short-term results and instead focus on their long-term performance. This is because there are days that you’re just going to have a bad run of luck and that it’s simply part of the game. More experienced and skilled players know to accept this and to keep their eye on their long-term results. 

If your long-term performance is not where you feel it should be, you may need to record and review your games (relatively simple on a desktop or laptop computer) or consider getting coaching from a more experienced player who can help you identify your weak points.

4. Tilting Easily

A frustrated poker player about to throw their cards down.

Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles that beginners have to overcome, regardless of what the stakes are, is managing their physical and emotional well-being so they don’t get upset. This is known in poker as being tilted. Numerous things can lead to a tilted state that causes a downward spiral and even losses. For example:

  • You may have played correctly but still lost a lot of games, which threw you off.
  • You may have had a poor night’s sleep, resulting in poor decision-making in your games.
  • You may be stressed by things outside the game that are affecting your ability to stay calm and focused.

If you are someone who struggles with remaining emotionally balanced during your games, here are some tips that you can use to help avoid tilt and the unnecessary losses that come with it:

  • Learn to recognize how you feel when you are tilted. You can’t deal with tilt if you don’t know you’re going through it.
  • Take a break from the game. Whether this break is a few minutes, a few hours, or even a few days, this can help you mentally reset so that you approach your poker games in the best frame of mind.
  • Consider meditation to help get rid of tilt. Meditation techniques can help people deal with many emotional issues, including tilt, so learn a few basic breathing techniques to help you get back to a better state of mind faster than you normally would.

5. Not Understanding the Fundamentals of Poker

As a beginner, it’s unsurprising that you might be making more fundamental mistakes than you realize. You might be calling or raising on weak hands, incorrectly betting depending on your position at the table, or not folding when the flop reveals that your chances of winning are basically zero. 

There are many books on poker for beginners from great players, such as “The Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky or “Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2: A Course in Power Poker.” These and other popular poker books are a great place to start to learn the basics of the game.

But if you are looking for some advice to take away now, here are some of the key fundamentals that all poker beginner players should learn to improve the consistency of their play.

  • Learn the value of each starting hand and how its value changes during the course of the game: For example, a player with a pair of aces can afford to raise aggressively preflop as they have the strongest hand in the game overall, so even if someone checks, they are still in a good position going into the flop. However, the same can’t be said for an offsuit ace-queen, which may be very strong but could end up dramatically weaker postflop.
  • Know how your position at the table affects your play: In poker, information is king, which is why your position at the table matters so much. The person who plays first may be able to set the tempo for the round, but the person playing last has the most information as they will have seen the decisions that other players have made. This gives the player who goes last a significant advantage.
  • Know how to use pressure to help you win: Many beginners simply lack the confidence and experience to know how to properly deal with aggressive players who put them under pressure. As a result, most people will tend to play it safe and fold when they think the risk might be too high. You can use this to help increase your wins simply by putting people on the back foot through aggressive play.

Take Low-Stakes Poker Play to the Next Level

While this advice is not everything that beginner players need to know on how to master low-stakes games, it should provide you with a solid foundation on how to improve your game while also pointing you in the direction of other resources on poker strategy that can help you take your poker play to the next level. 

Enjoy Poker and More at BetMGM

New and experienced poker players who enjoy low- or high-stakes games can find both at BetMGM. BetMGM has poker cash games and tournaments that cater to all budgets, with some starting from as little as $1. You can also play Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, and Texas Hold’em online in any of these formats. 

And if the mood strikes, you can even play other exciting casino games like online slots, roulette, craps, baccarat, and more, with many available as classic digital and live dealer games.

Register at BetMGM to enjoy all that online gambling has to offer.

Low-stakes poker is a great way for beginners to learn without too much financial risk. But there’s still a chance to make various mistakes. Find out more here.