100NL and 200NL are where things start to get serious and game play is more advanced, at these limits you will need to have a deep understanding of the game or you should expect to lose money. Many online pros stick to 100NL and 200NL as it can provide a very steady and solid income. The rakeback potential at these limits is very large as well so many players just play a ton of tables and accept a low win rate as they will make up for it in what they generate in rakeback.

So what new things will you encounter at these limits. You will find players stacking off a lot less lightly in post flop situations as they are usually capable of making a good fold and you find much more aggressive pre and post flop play. 3-bets at 100NL and 200NL are often made as bluffs to counter the times they are made for value. This is known as “balancing your range.” At the lower limits most players 3-bet strictly for value, where at these limits players are able to 3-bet to take down a pot pre flop without a solid hand. The times players get caught 3-betting with nothing are balanced by the times that 3-bets are made with strong hands. This makes these limits more difficult as you have to use your own judgment in determining whether a player is more likely to be 3-betting for value or as a bluff.

The ability to win pots without getting to showdown is something else that you will begin to see at 100NL and 200NL. Players are now much more capable of double and triple barreling the board with nothing. The reason that they can get away with this increased aggression is because they know that their opponents are more likely to fold a decent hand and because they are pretty good at hand reading. If a player is a great hand reader their cards become irrelevant. It is much more beneficial to you to know what your opponent probably has as opposed to what you have. You could have 72 off suit but if you know your opponent has AQ on a board of 3 8 J T 7 you can safely push him out of the hand. If you are only thinking “What do I have?” as opposed to “What does my opponent likely have?” you will end up getting crushed in the long run at small stakes.

In contrast to the increased aggression is the ability to make folds. While you know that other players are going to be more aggressive post flop you also need to know that they aren’t stupid. They often have a general idea of what types of hands you might have. If you instantly call the flop, the turn brings a small card and you call again, do you think another river small card is a good spot to call? They won’t keep firing, not often anyway, with absolutely nothing. It is not even that they won’t bet with nothing in their actual hand, but if two low cards came on the turn and the river it is increasingly hard for them to represent a hand that has gained strength on the turn or river. Situations like this are where good players at 100NL and 200NL are able to extract maximum value from the other players. This is what largely separates the winners, small winners, and losers at the small stakes, the ability to make the most and lose the least. This is crucial at all limits but begins to become really important at limits where the money is now significant.