One of the many advantages offered by online poker is the widespread availability of low-stakes games. You would be fortunate to find anything lower than $1/$2 no-limit or $3/$6 fixed-limit in the real world. Live casinos aren’t interested in diverting resources to host low-level games. Meanwhile, the internet is chock full of games that go as low as €0.01/€0.02 no-limit and €0.2/€0.04 fixed limit.
Virtually every poker site on the planet has a variety of both ring games and tournaments starting at extremely low levels. You won’t have much trouble finding a place to play, but there’s no question that some sites are much better than others for small-stakes players. In my experience, the following sites offer the best all-around combination of soft games, high player traffic, and small deposits.
How Low Limit Games Work
If you’re new to poker, low-limit games offer a great starting point. The competition isn’t overly difficult, but the people do play with a sense of purpose. Low-stakes games provide a nice middle ground between the play-money games where people play with reckless abandon and the higher-level games where the opposition can be fairly advanced.
In the table that you see above, I’ve listed the smallest no-limit poker cash games and lowest buy-in tournaments that you’ll find at each site. Most sites allow you to buy in for up to 100 times the big blind in no-limit games. So if you see the stakes listed as €0.01/€0.02, for example, the maximum buy-in is €2.00. You have something of value on the line, but you’re not risking much in the grand scheme of things.
Most low limit poker sites host games that start at either the €0.01/€0.02 or €0.02/€0.04 level for no limit and fixed limit tables. The stakes go up from there to €0.05/€0.10, €0.10/€0.25 and so on all the way up to €500/€1,000 depending on where you play. Small stakes tournaments typically start with buy-ins as low as €1 and sometimes even lower than that.
Player traffic tends to be the highest at low-stakes games no matter where you play. Finding a table will only be a challenge at the smallest and least-populated poker sites. The sites that I recommend are all medium to large, so you’ll have plenty of tables to choose from any time of day or night.
As far as safety goes, that’s a given. I never recommend poker websites that aren’t 100% reputable and safe places to play. Even though we’re not talking about thousands of euros here, there’s no need to play at a site that can’t keep your bankroll safe or provide fair games.
Making a Small Deposit
After choosing a poker site, the next step in getting started is to make a real money deposit. Every deposit method has both upper and lower limits on transaction sizes. If you can part with at least €20, you should be able to use 99% of the deposit methods out there.
If you’re really limited on funds, you can deposit as little as €5 with some methods. Credit cards, Skrill, and Paysafecard all come with a lower limit of €5. That’s about as low as it goes online. After that point, payment processors start to lose money on transactions.
The fastest way to get started with just a little money is to find your credit or debit card and use that to make your deposit. All you have to do is type in the numbers on the card as you would with any other online purchase, and your account will be credited with the funds instantly. If you choose this deposit method, you’ll be playing in real money games five minutes from now.
What About Deposit Bonuses?
Deposit bonuses are great bankroll boosters, but you need to deposit enough money to make it worth your while. If you have a couple hundred euros/dollars to spare, you can hit the sweet spot of most deposit bonuses. Typical welcome offers double your first deposit up to a max of about €1,000 to €2,000. If you want to deposit a little, that’s fine too.
I’ll go ahead and warn you now that bonuses aren’t all that useful for micro-stakes players. If you’re planning on playing in the absolute lowest level games, it’s going to take a long time to clear any bonus. The speed at which your bonus cash is released ultimately depends on how much rake you generate at the tables. Micro stakes games generate minimal rake and make it difficult to clear a bonus.
The best thing you can do is focus on improving your game and winning money at the tables. There will also be more bonuses out there. Spend a little time building your bankroll now so that you can take full advantage of any bonuses that you find later.
Are Low Stakes Poker Games Beatable?
Absolutely. The smaller the stakes, the easier the opposition. Even with all the online training material today, players can crush the small and micro stakes games if they use the right strategy. It’s always funny when I see someone complain about how atrocious the players are and how they can’t wait to move up in stakes where people actually make sense.
Let me assure you of one thing: whenever your opponents make mistakes, it’s a good thing for you. If you have multiple opponents making multiple mistakes in every hand, you’re bound to win money using a basic ABC poker strategy. Yes, you do experience more bad beats when everyone calls everything, but you get paid so much more on your made hands over the long run.
If you find yourself at a table of low-stakes fish, the best thing you can do is be patient and play straightforward poker. Fold your weak hands, bet your strong hands and avoid chasing draws when the pot odds don’t justify doing so. That’s all you have to do. Don’t worry about bluffing or getting too tricky. Tight, basic poker is how you win money at the micros.