However, if you know what to expect before making the move, it can make the transition a lot easier.
Last time I wrote a guide on the differences between NL2 and NL5. It proved to be a fairly popular article so this week I am going to cover what you can expect when you make the move from NL5 to NL10.
NL5 Versus NL10
NL5 (2c/5c blinds) is typically the 2nd lowest limit cash game that you can play online and it usually has a $5 max buyin (100 big blinds). NL10 (5c/10c blinds) is typically the 3rd rung on the ladder in online poker cash games with a $10 max buyin.
So unlike NL2, where you will encounter many complete online poker beginners, at both NL5 and NL10 you will typically find players who have "graduated" from a lower limit. Very few people will start their playing career at either of these stakes.
So this means that you will find far less completely clueless fish playing 40% or more of their hands. Also, the regs at these stakes will have typically studied the game to some extent and therefore offer more than the "play tight" strategy that is the only thing that most NL2 regs know.
However, as I discussed in the previous article in this series there is always a relative skill difference any time you move up the stakes in online cash games. The average NL10 reg will be a better poker player than the average NL5 reg.
NL5 Regs Versus NL10 Regs
With that said though, the relative skill difference that you will encounter between regs at NL5 and NL10 is not nearly as pronounced as it is between NL2 and NL5. The key difference though once again will be aggression.
- You will get 3Bet more often preflop
- You will get 4Bet more often preflop
- You will get floated more often postflop
- You will get raised more often postflop
- You will get barreled more often postflop
If these numbers sound like Greek to you then you might want to go check out my comprehensive article on HUD setup and stats for more information.
With regards to postflop play NL10 regs will float or raise you more often than NL5 regs. This is because they understand the power of position in poker better and how to use it. So they will flat you in position preflop with a wider array of holdings as well.
Lastly, NL10 regs will barrel you more often than their NL5 counterparts. This means that if you float them, they will fire another CBet on the turn more often and sometimes even a 3rd shell on the river either as a value bet or as a bluff.
At NL10 you will encounter a lot more hyper aggressive regs who will be constantly trying to push you out of the pot at every stage of the hand.
The answer to this (just like versus a maniac fish) is to simply call with a wider range and let them hang themselves. It is important to note though that regs are not fish and just because they are betting and raising like crazy against you in every hand does not necessarily mean that they are bluffing you every time.
This is why it will be imperative once again that you wait until you have played a few sessions and built up some reasonable HUD data on the regs before making any big adjustments to them. There are still going to be many tight regs at NL10 who will have the nuts or close to it a lot of the time when they bet.
You don't want to make the mistake of calling them down light. This is why it is important to collect a couple hundred hands on a reg before making a firm decision about what type of player they are.
NL5 Fish Versus NL10 Fish
Once again the differences between the recreational players at NL5 and at NL10 will be small. Fish are pretty much fish at any limit.
They play the game for fun and they don't try to improve. Many see it almost like bingo or something anyways. They don't understand that poker is actually a game of skill where if you improve your technical knowledge, then your results will improve as well.
Therefore, the fish at either of these limits will continue to play way too many hands, play way too passively and limp a lot. The answer to this is to isolate them frequently and value bet the crap out of them.
The one main difference though between these two limits is that the recreational players will be harder to find. This is because there are simply less and less of them as you move up the limits.
This is why it is increasingly important that you are paying attention to table selection by the time you reach NL10. Despite what the naysayers will tell you it is very possible to find 40%+ VPIP goofballs still at this stake.
You will have to bounce around tables a lot more though, learn to play short-handed and even poker site select. If you choose to sit down at random tables or grind reg infested Zoom games then you will rarely encounter these types of players at NL10 and even at NL5 for that matter.
Winrates Between NL5 and NL10
So as expected when you are facing better skilled opponents and less recreational players your winrate will go down when you move from NL5 to NL10. The drop will not be as pronounced as between NL2 and NL5 though because the relative skill difference is not as big.
However, you should definitely expect to see your winrate decrease by anywhere from 25% to 50%. This means that if you are a 5bb/100 winner at NL5 then your winrate might decrease to 4bb/100 or 3bb/100 at NL10.
A decrease in winrate will mean more variance. This means that you will encounter lengthier and more intense downswings. 20 buyin downswings are definitely possible even for a good player at NL10 whereas this won't happen as often at NL5.
This is why it is imperative that you are practicing good bankroll management by the time you get to NL10. I would suggest having 40 buyins for this limit. This means $400 in your bankroll.
Making the Move from NL5 to NL10
All of the same rules apply when moving up to any new limit.
- Make sure that you are consistently beating your current limit for a reasonable winrate (2bb/100 or more) and over a reasonable sample size (20k hands minimum)
- Make sure that you are adequately bankrolled
- Make sure that you are feeling confident about your game and you are not currently in a downswing
- Move up on a weekend or a high traffic time when the games are likely to be the best
- Lower the number of tables at first and pay heavy attention to table selection
- Don't get into big time reg wars until you have a good amount of HUD data on them
Many regs will also start to become more aware of when you are isolating a fish at NL10. Therefore they will correctly light 3Bet or 4Bet you back.
This is why it is important by NL10 that you start paying attention not only to who is on your right but to who is on your left as well. Dealing with a hyper aggressive player, who you have little information about, and who has direct position on you, won't be a fun experience. It can also be tilt-inducing if the cards aren't falling your way.
So in a situation like this it can often be a good idea to simply leave the table or rejoin in a different seat. NL10, much like NL5, is a very popular limit online and therefore there are many other tables to choose from.
It is important not to let your ego get involved when you are out of position against an aggressive good reg. Even if you manage to win the battle you will still lose the war because the money does not come from players like this in poker.
Moving from NL5 to NL10 is a fairly big step along your journey up the micro stakes poker ladder. You will encounter tougher players and less fish. Also, the pots will be twice as large. While the money amounts are still small to most, they aren't completely insignificant either.
However, with an understanding of the differences between the regs at each limit and a carefully planned strategy for moving up (and down), there is no reason why you can't make a seamless transition to this next limit.
The bottom line is this:
If you are winning right now with a reasonable winrate over a decent sample at NL5, then you will without question have success at NL10 as well.
Moving up in stakes is never easy though and it might take you several attempts before you succeed. This happens to everybody due to short term variance and sometimes tilt. Having to move back down for awhile is nothing to be ashamed of.
Once you do finally stick at NL10 though you will adjust to the new regs and wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place. You will also be just one step away from getting to this first limit in online poker cash games where you can make some decent money which is NL25.
Let me know in the comments below what your experience has been like in moving from NL5 to NL10. Do you have any tips for making the transition easier?
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