Not everyone plays poker with the same goals in mind. While most of the glory goes to those players who frequent the highest stakes games in the world, there are plenty of very successful professional and recreational players who play at medium and low stakes. And for casual players (or those just starting to build a bankroll), even the so-called “micro stakes” games can be fun, challenging, and rewarding.
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If you want to take your poker career seriously, there are two main factors that will determine what stakes you’ll want to play. The first is your bankroll. Without being properly bankrolled for a stakes level, you’ll be running a high risk of going broke if you run into a little bad luck. Secondly, you’ll want to take your own skill level into consideration; almost without fail, the players you face will get tougher on average as you move up in stakes. Moving up too fast could land you in a game with players who are stronger than the opponents you’re used to facing. On the other hand, if you’re just playing for fun, you won’t have to worry about these considerations; simply sit in at whatever stakes level you’ll have fun winning, but can also handle losing your stake.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the four general levels of poker stakes. Click on each game type to see our picks for the best online poker rooms for players at those stakes!
Micro stakes games are the lowest stakes games available in the poker world, and are where most poker careers begin. You won’t find these games in live casinos; they’re mostly confined to online poker rooms and casual home games. Generally, games with blinds of $0.25/0.50 or lower are considered micro stakes games (for no-limit games, $.10/$.25 or lower). Micro stakes games are perfect for practice and building bankrolls against soft competition. Players interested in this may also like to check out our min deposit poker rooms guide.
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Small stakes (or low stakes) games are the first place where you’ll find aspiring professional players, and even some semi-professional players who grind out serious profits. Usually, games from $0.50/$1 to $4/$8 ($0.25/0.50 to $0.50/$1 in no-limit) are considered small stakes. This is also the level at which you’ll begin seeing games spread in live casinos.
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Mid stakes or medium stakes games are for serious gamblers, with some serious money on the line. While there are still plenty of amateur players at these stakes, you can expect to see professional players more frequently, as it’s very possible to stake out a living here. For limit games, mid stakes covers the range from around $5/$10 to $10/$20; no-limit mid stakes games usually have blinds on the order of $1/$2 to $3/$6.
Find the best medium stakes poker rooms
If you’re looking to make big money in poker, your goal should be to land in high stakes games. If you’re playing a limit game of $20/$40 or more, or playing no-limit with blinds of $5/$10 or higher, you’re not playing around, and you can expect to be up against some very tough (or very rich) opponents. While those numbers aren’t exactly peanuts, those are the minimums for high stakes games, which can go much, much higher; so-called nosebleed games can have blinds in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and attract the world’s greatest players!