Poker players who enjoy small stakes poker games often notice a gap between what they read about poker strategy and what actually happens at the tables. Most poker strategy articles are written with the assumption that opponents are rational – that they will fold a reasonably strong hand when they feel they are beaten for example. Small stakes Texas Holdem games, especially at the micro limits, are often loose, wild and full of plays which do not make much sense.

This article looks at Texas Holdem strategy tips for small stakes poker by taking into account the reality at the tables. In poker the profit comes from the mistakes your opponents make. In order to win at these games we need to understand and adapt to these mistakes.

Many poker strategy guides recommend that you raise with a variety of hands before the flop. This gets money into the pot when you are strong, and also thins the field to one or two opponents – enabling you to win the hand after the flop unless your opponents hit. At the small stakes tables those same raises will often be called by many opponents. You can easily find yourself 5 handed after the flop and out of position too.

There are actually 3 strategic choices here, either raise more, raise with those hands which are profitable in multi-way pots or raise less and play hands which can hit a flop hard such as pairs looking to spike a set.

Your small stakes Texas Holdem strategy should involve understanding how certain hands change value at very loose tables. A good example would be the high ace hands such as ace-king. This is because your opponents are more likely to play aces with small kickers at small stakes tables. If you hit an ace or a king on the flop you should be prepared to commit many chips – there is an excellent chance that an opponent with a lower ace will pay you off.

Premium pairs also go up in value, especially when you have an over-pair to the board. Opponents will regularly pay you off with lower holdings. Conversely, medium pairs (77-JJ) go down in value. Since many opponents will be calling raises with unsuited high cards then you will never be sure where you stand after the flop – any over-card to your pair could have hit opponent. Play these hands cautiously, your main objective here is to hit a set and win an opponent"s entire stack.

Since players in small stakes Texas Holdem games will often call all the way to the river with medium strength holdings you need to reduce the amount of times you bluff. Betting when you miss the flop (especially when you have only a single opponent) can still be profitable, however if you are called and your hand does not improve you need to be able to lay your hand down and not lose any more chips.

The opposite strategy to this – value betting – works very well at low stakes. While in a higher stakes game betting the flop, turn and river with only top pair is usually a big loser when you are called, in the smallest games this is a profitable strategy. You will need to be aware of those times when the turn or river complete flush draws (for example) but generally speaking the weaker hands your opponents call down with the stronger you should push over-pair and top-pair type holdings.

The best strategy of all in small stakes Texas Holdem games is to play tight and bet aggressively when your hand hits. There is room for playing suited connectors and small pairs cheaply before the flop, but only if you are happy to fold each time that you miss. Value betting more in these games will be profitable over time – but you should bluff less, especially when there are several opponents sill in the hand.