Playing poker for real money is fundamentally different compared to
playing for play money. The rules may be the same, but the difference
is in the way people bet. When winning and losing start making a difference,
people are much more considered when they actually put money into
the pot. We call this playing 'tighter'.
The higher the stakes, the tighter the game.
When moving from play money to real money, you will have to tighten up your game as well, or you will inevitably lose money. The aim is to play a slightly tighter game than your opponents. On low limit tables however, this is no problem. The game is still pretty loose anyway.
Size of Table
The first decision to be made before playing poker is the size of the table. The strategy required for playing on a ten player table is completely different to that of a two player 'heads up' game. Pick a type of table and stick to it to make sure you learn it properly.
In general one can say it's more difficult to play No-Limit than Limit Games and it is more difficult to play short handed than at a full 10-player table.
Choosing your opponents is a powerful ploy to successful poker. By selecting the right opponents, you maximize your chance of profitable success. You don't have to be the best player in the world to be profitable at poker, you just have to be better than the players at your table. (Actually, you don't have to be the best player at the table either, as long as you know who the good players are!).
Find players that you are better than.
The first and most obvious piece of advice relating to your opponents is to find, and play at, your own level. Secondly, there is some statistical information in the lobby that you can use.
When, in this document, we refer to low-limit we're talking about tables with $0.5-$1 and $1-$2. The information here should be sufficient for you to play on this level.
To play at $2-$4 and $3-$6 you need to understand the concepts described here on a slightly deeper level and gain some experience of playing.
To assist you in finding the right table, you can use the statistics in the lobby.
This section will give you an introduction in how to adopt your play from play money to real money in the different stages of the hand.
Play the right Hands
The first decision is to select the hands you play. To learn more
on which hands to play and when to play them, it's recommended
that you read a good poker book. A good rule of thumb is to play
fewer hands than your opponents.
In loose low limit games, the pots tend to get big which makes suited connectors (even low) better as you will win large pots making a flush or straight.
Small pairs are good if there are many callers.
High cards are sometimes not as good as you might immediately think. (E.g. QT unsuited is normally not a good hand at a 10 player table)
On the Flop
On the Turn
Coming to the turn, the bet increases. Here's an opportunity for a lot of money to be won or lost. Managing to make it two bets on the turn when you'll win and no bets when you would have lost anyway, makes a winner in low limit Texas Hold'em! (Easier said than done, though!)
On the River
Poker is a game of edge. By playing better than the opponents, you gain an edge and win money. There is, however, a large element of short-term chance, which results in possible swings. To play consistently, you'll need to have a sufficient bankroll to survive.
Even a very good poker player may have a bad day, a bad week, or a bad month!
In low limit poker you can handle the situation of losing your entire bankroll, as it is in small manageable amounts. Playing high stakes would require maybe $1,000,000 in bankroll, which is difficult to replace if lost.
A good starting bankroll would probably be 100 small bets. (On a $1-$2 table, this would require a $100 deposit.) Playing conservatively will give you a buffer for losing streaks. Depositing less money is of course possible, but you should be prepared to deposit more to cover an unlucky streak.
On winning, it's important to build your bankroll in order to be able to try a higher stakes table. This way you can move up the limits without any further deposits.
Large Multi-way Pots
In large multi-way pots, the number of players going all the way to the river constitutes the number of Miracle Rivers thus making your opponents hands increase. It's all a question of probabilities.
On the other hand, the pot will be large, so by not betting on bad hands, you'll not have to win too many pots to end up a winner.
Be aware of made flushes and straights, as well as possible third pairs making trips, so you don't pay unnecessarily over the odds on the turn or river.
General on Bluffing
In loose low limit poker, bluffing is generally a bad thing and will not be profitable. Use bluffing scarcely to put people off. It can sometimes be good to be caught in a bluff early in the game to draw more callers when you have a good hand later in the game.