How to Beat 10NL: The Ultimate Guide [2019]

How to Beat 10NL
People ask me all the time how to beat 10NL online these days. And believe me, I get it. 10NL is not exactly a walk in the park anymore.

10NL by the way means the $10 maximum buyin no limit holdem cash games with 5 cent and 10 cent blinds. Some people also call it NL10, which means the same thing.

On most online poker sites these days the 10NL games are still fairly soft with a lot of weak regulars and several recreational players. However, you will encounter quite a few decent to good players as well at 10NL who know what they are doing.

The best strategy to beat 10NL is a tight and aggressive or loose and aggressive style of play. Other good 10NL strategies including 3betting and 4betting the weak regulars light, putting them on tilt, learning how to float and call-down light. With a little bit of practice most people can learn how to beat 10NL fairly quickly.

However, this is a fairly simplistic answer.

So in this article I am going to give you my complete strategy to beating 10NL Zoom, 6max and full ring poker games in 2019. Use these strategies and start crushing 10NL quickly!

By the way, if you are still struggling to beat 2NL or 5NL, then I recommend you check out my guide to beating 2NL or my guide to beating 5NL before reading this article.


1. How to Beat NL10 - Learn to Play LAG


Now by the time you get to 10NL I am going to assume that you already have a decent understanding of how to play a solid TAG (tight and aggressive) game.

You should already know which hands to play from which seats at the poker tables and how to apply pressure on the right opponents both before the flop and after the flop.

However, if you really want to start beating 10NL for the maximum win-rate then you are really going to need to start opening up your game by transitioning from a TAG to LAG game.

LAG stands for loose and aggressive by the way.

The reason why you need to start learning how to play a loose and aggressive game by 10NL is because these stakes are absolutely full of weak TAGs and the best way to exploit their weaknesses is by playing a lot of hands and applying a lot of pressure (bluffs).

You should also start learning how to beat the handful of other LAGs that you will encounter at 10NL as I outline in this video.


Now versus the fish, it doesn't matter. The best strategy to crush them is always the same.

You should just play the simple ABC value betting based game that I talk about so often here on my blog, in all my poker strategy books and in my YouTube poker videos.

But if you really want to start crushing the 10NL regulars (and not just be another mediocre break-even or small winner like all them), then you need to start opening up you game.

Here is my complete guide for transitioning from a TAG to a LAG playing style.


2. How to Beat 10NL - Open Up Your Preflop 3Bet and 4Bet Game


It is hugely important that by the time you get to 10NL that you learn how to open up your light 3Betting and 4Betting game versus the regulars.

You need to have a solidly balanced range of value hands and drawing hands at this stake. You cannot just only 3Bet and 4Bet with premiums anymore. Any smart regular will see right through it.


So for example:

You should be 3Betting with all your premiums and plenty of drawing hands like:

87
A2
KT

You should be 4Betting with all of your premiums and occasionally with a suited ace like:

A5
A4
A3

As I have discussed several times before, suited aces are a particularly good candidate for a light 4Bet because they block big aces and they have some reasonable equity versus big pocket pairs (usually around 30%).

You still mostly want to be 4Betting for value at 10NL but it is important to start thinking about mixing in some light 4Bets into your game.

This will put the aggressive regulars who 3Bet too much on notice that you will not just be run over like every other weak regular at these stakes. Sometimes you will bite back.

By the way, I recently wrote a huge article specifically devoted to how to play your suited aces better. You can find that right here.


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3. Bring Your "A" Game Every Single Time


As I mentioned above, many of the regulars are decent players by the time you get to 10NL these days and while there are fish, there aren't as many of them as there at 5NL and 2NL.

So therefore, you can't afford to sit down to play while feeling like crap anymore, tired, hungry, depressed, hungover and so on.

You need to be ready and focused to play your "A" game every single time you sit down to play at NL10 these days because the edges are small and the variance can be difficult to handle at times.

By "variance" I am basically referring to the swings. More specifically you will have more losing days at 10NL than you are used to and it will challenge you mentally.

So this is why for me, making sure that I am taking care of my body and mind away from the poker tables is hugely important.

In fact anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that the first thing I do every single morning is head straight to the gym. I literally just roll out of bed and go.



This allows me to start every single day with a massive advantage over my competition.

I am already feeling supercharged and totally focused on dominating at the poker table or in business by the time I am finished my workout at around 8am.

Good sleep and a healthy diet are also vitally important to my success in poker. I am in bed by 10pm each night and I have all my meals delivered from health food distributors.

You can also try using meditation both before and after sessions to clear your mind and detach yourself from short term results.

Now some people still laugh when I say all this. And that's cool!

But the serious players at these stakes (a few of whom are even professionals by 10NL), are not taking this for granted.

They know that in order to beat 10NL (and every stake above it) for the highest winnings they cannot afford to ignore the mental side of the game anymore.

Much like a professional athlete does, they are putting in the work away from the tables in order to make sure they are in peak mental state every time they sit down to play.

This is something that Daniel Negreanu also talks about in his new poker strategy course.

He believes that regular exercise, meditation and a good diet (vegan in his case) are a big part of success in poker today especially as you move up the stakes.


4. Advanced 10NL Poker Strategy - Put the Other Regulars on Tilt


By the time you get to 10NL, whether you play Zoom, 6max or full ring game, you are going to be dealing with regulars much more consistently. In fact they will be by far your most common opponent.

Remember, these are decent to good players who aren't stupid. These are people who take the game seriously like you do and they are trying to win.

They might even be studying to improve their poker game away from the tables and they might be using a poker HUD as well to gather information on you.

Basically, the regulars at 10NL are not pushovers and they are not making nearly as many huge fundamental mistakes like many of the regs at 5NL or 2NL.

So you have to find a way to get an edge on them. Using a LAG strategy against them is one key to success which I already mentioned above.

But there is one other key area where most 10NL regulars are very weak. And this is exactly what I was just discussing in the previous section, the mental game!

Most NL10 regulars get frustrated easily and tilt. So basically, you can gain a large edge over them by directly targeting them and trying to force them to tilt.

So, these days one of the top strategies that I use each session at 10NL (and higher) is to actively target a specific regular and try to get him pissed off at me basically.

NL10 poker strategy

Because, it doesn't matter who you are, as long as you are human then you will tilt sometimes in poker. And even the very best players in the world can become huge fish while on tilt.

Poker is a game of mental warfare and when I sit down to play my sole aim is to take every last chip off that table. So I am going to use every mental advantage and "trick" that I can.

So what I do is just pick one specific NL10 regular who I happen to have direct position on (ideally across multiple tables), and just start re-raising and bluffing the crap out of them almost every hand.

I will make it painfully obvious that I am totally out of line against them and clearly targeting them. This will usually cause them to start fighting back at me and we will get a nice little "reg war" going on.

But since I have direct position, they will always be fighting an uphill battle against me. This is why position is so important. Don't ever target someone if they have position on you!

Now, if I run good (pick up some decent hands), this will often be enough to put them on tilt straight away after 10 minutes or so.

But regardless, with this strategy, I am usually able to get most 10NL regulars off their game and totally focused on me. Which is great!

But the real key to this strategy is that in all future poker sessions I will revert to totally normal play against them. However, in their mind, they will still have me pegged as a maniac for life.

This is how you tilt the NL10 regulars and ensure plenty of future action against them.

I see people complain all the time about how tight the games are these days and how they can never get paid off with their good hands.

For me that is not the case at all.

I usually have no trouble getting paid off by the NL10 Nits when I pick up my AA because most of them believe (incorrectly) that I am a complete maniac :)


Quick Point of Caution!

By the way, if you have just moved up to NL10 from NL5 and you know very little about the regulars yet, then I would not suggest using this strategy.

Wait until you are firmly established at NL10 and you have plenty of information on the regulars. Also, it is always much better to pick a "bad reg" than a "good reg" to use this strategy against.

For much more on player types and the differences between a good reg and a bad reg, check out this article of mine.


5. Study Advanced Poker Strategy to Beat 10NL in 2019


Another huge factor in beating 10NL is to consistently improve your poker game.

Poker games these days are always changing and if you don't keep up with the latest theory and strategies, you will simply get left behind.

So this is why I suggest that you start studying an advanced poker training course that will help you stay one step ahead of the other regulars at NL10.

My #1 recommended poker training program in 2019 is The Upswing Poker Lab.

advanced 10NL poker strategy

This poker course is taught by some of the best poker players in the world including 3-time WSOP bracelet winner, with millions in winnings both live and online, Doug Polk.

The Upswing Poker Lab teaches you how to crush the other good regulars at NL10 through a deep understanding of game theory optimal play and exploitative strategies.

If you are a struggling low or mid stakes poker player The Upswing Poker Lab is easily one of the best ways to start rapidly changing your results today.

You can enroll in The Upswing Poker Lab right here.


6. Advanced NL10 Poker Strategy - Float The Flop Like a Champion


So here's the deal guys.

At 2NL and even 5NL you could get away with folding most of the time on the flop if you don't have a pair or a decent draw and still do just fine.

But with the better players and the smaller edges as you move up the stakes this strategy isn't going to cut it anymore. The smarter regulars will eat you alive when they notice you fold too much.

So you need to develop a more balanced flop strategy as the preflop caller and by the time you get to 10NL, it is a good time to start learning this!

And just so we are on the same page here a "float" in poker is essentially when you call (could be on the flop or turn), with the goal of taking the pot away on a later street.

So what I would recommend is that you start looking for the regulars who continuation bet (CBet) on the flop too much, (70% or higher), and start calling them in position with more hands.


Start floating them with hands like:
  • A gutshot straight draw
  • A backdoor flush draw and one overcard
  • Two overcards

I think you get the idea. You need to start floating the flop with hands like this that have a small amount of equity, instead of just folding them.

These guys who are CBetting the flop too much will often give up on the turn and then you can simply make a bet and take the pot away from them.

This is an absolutely crucial skill for you to start learning as you move up the stakes. And as always, I already got you covered.

Here is my complete guide to floating the flop versus aggressive players and then taking the pot away from them on the turn.


7. Learn the Art of the Light Call Down


Alright, let me jump into another advanced poker strategy that you need to start working into your game by the time you get to 10NL.

This is the art of the light call down, and once again, it works best against aggressive poker players.

One of the biggest things you are going to notice as you move up the stakes in poker is that the players will get more and more aggressive.

Many of them will be capable of firing both the flop and turn as a bluff. Some of them will even have the heart to fire all three streets as a bluff (flop, turn and river).

So we need to develop strategies to counteract these kinds of players. This is something that I really focus on heavily in The Micro Stakes Playbook.

As I discuss in chapter 17 of this book, one of the absolute best strategies to crush these over aggressive regulars is to basically become a bit of a calling station against them.

You need to start taking a hand like top pair for example and be willing to call off an entire stack with it in some cases.

Here is a recent hand I played at 10NL where I show you exactly how to do this:



The bottom line is that you need to stop respecting the bets of the regulars as much as you move up the stakes.

They have much better balanced betting ranges that includes not only strong hands but many semi-bluffs and even pure bluffs as well.

Therefore, you must start working a light call down strategy into your game plan versus some of them.


8. Table Selection is Mandatory


So my last tip for helping you beat 10NL games is to recommend that you start taking your table selection very, very seriously.

Once again, at 2NL and even 5NL you could still get away with ignoring this.

At both of these stakes there is often a good chance that there will be a weaker player (or even a complete fish) on most random tables.

But as you move up to 10NL and especially higher limits, this is definitely not the case. The majority of the tables will simply have a bunch of decent to good regulars sitting around trading the blinds back and forth.

This is NOT the type of poker game you want to be playing in if making money in poker is your goal.

We make money in this game from the recreational players who make large fundamental mistakes, not the intelligent thinking regulars who are trying hard to win just like you.

So you need to start making sure that there is always a soft spot at any 10NL table you decide to sit down at. And if there isn't, then you leave the table.

If you are using a poker HUD, then all you have to do is look for somebody with a VPIP of 40 or more. It only takes a couple orbits whether you are playing NL10 6max or NL10 full ring to get this information.


If you are not using a HUD then you just need to look for the players who are:
  • Playing too many hands
  • Limping into the pot a lot
  • Calling down with garbage
  • Chasing every ridiculous draw
  • Don't have a full stack
  • Often bet ridiculously small amounts

And so on. You know the type. That's a recreational player (fish).

You need to tag them right away. Most online poker sites allow you to place a note or a color tag on another player which sticks around forever basically. So you will always know who the bad players are next time you play as soon as you sit down.

You also want to use some seat selection (when possible) to try and get on their direct left because this will make it much easier for you to isolate them every hand and stack them.

The bottom line is that if you really want to start beating NL10 in today's games, then you need to start table selecting like it's your job. As always, I already got you covered.

Here is my complete guide to online poker table selection.


How to Beat 10NL Zoom


Let's talk a bit about how to beat 10NL Zoom specifically.

Many people believe that Zoom poker requires a totally new strategy to beat. However, this just really isn't the case.

There are two differences between a 10NL Zoom game and a regular 10NL poker game. The first is that you will be placed at a random table in a random seat for every hand.

And the second difference is that because of this you won't be able to isolate the fish, use table selection or really even get any solid reads most of the time.

How to beat NL10 Zoom

Zoom poker essentially forces you to revert back to an ABC style basic poker strategy. And this is because you simply do not know enough about your opponents.

Often the player pool in a 10NL Zoom game in prime time can have 100+ people in it. This means that you will rarely get to play a hand against the same player or even collect HUD stats.

And as mentioned, you can't table select and seat select to get on the left of the fish like I just talked about above.

However, Zoom poker (or Snap poker or Zone poker as it is called on other poker rooms) is still profitable and it is also extremely convenient.

Here is my complete guide to Zoom poker strategy for 2019 games.


10NL Bankroll Guidelines


Alright, let's finally talk about your bankroll for 10NL. This is an area where a lot of people shoot themselves in the foot.

And what I mean by that is they fail to realize how big of a bankroll you need to play NL10!

To put it simply, a good winning poker player could quite conceivably lose 10 buyins, maybe even 15 or 20 at 10NL these days.

Many people do not realize that this is actually standard variance even for a winning poker player as you move up the stakes.

Variance by the way is the technical term we use in poker for the routine ups and downs that you will face due to the short term luck element that is built into the game of poker.

So this is why I suggest having a bankroll for NL10 that is at least 30 buyins.

NL10 bankroll strategy

Since a full buyin at NL10 is $10, this means that you should have at a bare minimum, $300 in your bankroll before you start playing this game.

And to be completely honest, I would actually recommend even more than this if you want to play it safe. As a pro, I always have far more bullets than this available.

The issue with NL10 these days (and indeed all limits above it) is that even if you are table selecting vigorously like I suggest above, you are still going to be mostly playing against other decent players.

And these players don't make the huge glaring mistakes that you so often see at NL2 and even at NL5.

Now don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean that the average NL10 player is some world beater pro. If this were the case, they would be playing much higher stakes.

But the average NL10 player these days is far from clueless. And what this ultimately means is that your edges will be thinner and therefore your swings will be more intense.

As I always say, your poker bankroll is literally the last thing you should have to worry about at the poker table. Do yourself a favor and start with the right NL10 bankroll in the first place.

If you want to know much more about proper poker bankroll management strategy, I have already written the complete guide to that also, covering every stake.


Final Thoughts


So how hard is it to beat 10NL in 2019? Well honestly, a lot of people exaggerate how difficult it is. Now sure, are the players better than 5NL and 2NL?

Yes of course.

But this is the case any time you move up limits. Your opponents at 25NL will be tougher and smarter than the ones you face at 10NL as well.

However, you don't need to spend hours and hours studying advanced poker training in order to beat 10NL these days.

Although, improving your game and studying your hands away from the tables as you move up the stakes is certainly something I recommend.

The best way to beat NL10 is to start experimenting with a loose and aggressive style with more preflop aggression in order to exploit all of the weak and tight regulars you will encounter at this stake.

You also need to focus on bringing your "A" game every time you sit down to play at NL10 and also start experimenting with putting some of the other regulars on tilt. Trust me it works amazing at NL10!

Lastly, you want to start mixing in some higher level advanced poker strategies into your game such as floating the flop more and calling down lighter versus over-aggressive regulars.

The bottom line is that with a little bit of effort and dedication anyone can learn to beat NL10 these days. You are one more step along the ladder.

NL25 is next where you can finally start making some really good money in this game. So keep plugging away!

If you want to learn how to start consistently making $1000 per month at stakes like NL10, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

---

Let me know your NL10 poker strategy in the comments below. What is your best advice to beat NL10?

How to Beat 10NL zoom

8 comments:

  1. A lot of great advice as usual. I have been playing a lot of 10NL for the last year or so as well as related limits like 16NL on Stars and more recently 20NL on 888 Poker. And I would like to add, that at least on these two sites, the 6-max games and full ring games tend to play at least somewhat different. At 10NL full ring you still find a decent amount of regulars, who are on the nitty side of the spectrum, while at 10NL 6-max you find more loose and aggressive regulars including some, that take the aggression to far.

    Constantly adjusting between these different player pool tendencies can be difficult, so especially in the beginning I would advise people moving from 5NL to 10NL to pick one game format and concentrate on it. Or if you still want to practice both formats, then maybe play 2 weeks at 6-max and then 2 weeks at full ring. Dont mix it up from session to session or even within sessions. And get out of Zoom, if your goal is to build your bankroll.

    About starting reg wars, I am sure, this is a great way to increase your winrate, if you are among the best regs in your game. However if you just moved from 5NL to 10NL, then you are not among the best regs at 10NL. And then chances are, you will come out on the losing end of any “wars”, weather you started them or not. So just focus on not making big mistakes against the other regulars, and try to play equilibrium against them.

    And dont tilt and go into fight mode, just because someone seem to be 3-betting a lot. Its quite easy for someone to appear like an absolute maniac after 40 hands, especially at 6-max, but as time moves on, it often turn out, he was just on a heater. I have learned that the hard way by fighting back against the “maniac” by 4-betting a hand like AJs, calling off his 5-bet jam, and been shown a hand like KK.

    The adjustment, you do want to make to games with more aggressive 3-betting, is to tighten up your opening a little bit especially from early position, and to maybe use a smaller sizing like 2,5BB. In that way you lose less, when you fold to a 3-bet, and you give yourself more room to call 3-bets with some speculative hands, that can bust an overpair.

    Or simply just leave the table, if someone on your left is continuously 3-betting you, especially at 6-max. This is a completely acceptable strategy, and maybe there was no real reason for you to be on the table anyway. Maybe on the next table the LAG is then on your right, and now you can return the favour by 3-betting him light in position.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Lars,

      Thanks for your comments!

      I agree about 6max NL10 having more LAGs and Full Ring having more Nits. It is important to distinguish between the two and play against them differently.

      And yes, good point about starting reg wars when you have just moved up from NL5 to NL10. I would not recommend this either. Better to wait until you are more confident at NL10 and you know the regs better.

      I actually made a small edit to the article because I do think this is an important point.

      Delete
  2. next article is how to beat passive nit who buys in less than 50bb.
    I see nowadays more this kind of player on rec site like pppoker app

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Tom,

      Thanks for the suggestion. I have written a few articles in the past on short stack poker strategy with a few tips on how to counteract it as well.

      For example:

      https://www.blackrain79.com/2018/08/short-stack-poker-strategy.html

      The best advice I can give is to always be aware of where they are seated at the table.

      And be prepared to tighten up your opening range in certain spots especially with stuff like small suited connectors (56 suited etc.) that cannot continue versus a 3Bet or a shove.

      I will also widen my shoving range against the short stacks in some spots depending on how light they like to squeeze. I might jam an A9 suited or something like that against certain players.

      Delete
  3. Hey Nathan, thanks for this article. Your advices in your books and in the forum helped me a lot to be a winning player at nl10. :)

    What du you think about the new tablecap on stars? On my way to nl 25 i used to play 8 Tables and it worked good for me until now.

    The changes in onlinepoker in the last time make it much harder for winning players and there will more changes come in the future.

    I try to play more SNGs additionally and try to improve my ICM Knowledge to compensate.

    Changes in onlinepoker and the adjustments...
    Maybe the stuff for a new article? ;)

    Best regards
    Pascal

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Pascal,

      I am glad my books and my forum are helping you!

      I don't typically comment on the changes that specific poker sites make because they change their policies all the time. However, I talked about this a bit already on social media.

      Good for recs, regs will need to adjust.

      Delete
  4. Excellent guide! I am going to point people to this when they ask me how to beat 10NL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks TJ, glad you enjoyed this one!

      Delete