A typical real-life poker room’s lowest stakes no-limit hold’em tables will normally be $1/2 blinds with a $200-500 buy-in. For most people, this buy-in is a weekly salary or more, so the play is somewhat serious, even if the players aren’t very good. No matter how bad you are, most people have some level of respect for what a few hundred dollars is worth. When compared to Internet microstakes poker that have buy-ins for as low as $1 and blinds starting at $0.01/0.02, there is quite a difference in how people treat the games. Internet no-limit hold’em games at the microstakes levels are where the worst real-money players in the world reside. To play against these players and maximize your advantage, you have to shed some of the playing habits you probably have from playing against better players. Here we’re going to look at the key strategic adjustments you should be making in these super-weak no-limit hold’em games.
One of the first things you’ll realize from playing is that these games are full of players who will call with anything close to being a piece of the flop, so pure bluffing is usually not such a good idea. When you bluff, you’re counting on your opponent folding a high percentage of his possible holdings in some situation. When the amount of hands they continue with goes up, the amount of hands they fold goes down, and you’re left with few situations where pure bluffing is profitable. Keep in mind, however, that semi-bluffs with good draws are still great because if you happen to hit your draw on the later streets they will usually pay you off very well. This creates an interesting situation where you have to keep in mind the implied odds of your semi-bluffs because of how few of these players are good at folding.
Since these players aren’t folding much, you should also be value betting much more often than you normally would against decent competition. If a tight player raises in a normal game and it folds to you with pocket Jacks, you’ll often consider just calling since raising gets a lot of your opponents’ worse hands to fold and few of his better hands to call. In microstakes no-limit hold’em on the Internet, this is rarely the case and you should be stacking off pre-flop with pocket Jacks the vast majority of the time. Needing to value bet more also goes for post-flop scenarios. If you flop top pair with a good kicker in these games, you should usually be trying to get your stacks in unless an obvious draw comes in on the turn or river.
People have a certain lack of respect for $1 or $2 buy-in games, and out of this lack of respect, the entertainment aspect of poker starts to outweigh the money your opponents are losing. This is what creates the dynamic of people hardly ever folding their trash hands, and what creates the need for these atypical strategic no-limit hold’em adjustments.