There comes a time as a poker player when it’s (financially) correct to play higher limits. Cue the song Moving On Up at this time. I’m going to be selfish and talk about my navigation through the rough waters of low and mid stakes.
I started playing micro stakes on Party Poker when I was 17. I turned $50 into $50,000. Cool. I bought a car, got a girlfriend and spent all of my money traveling. Not so cool. I always thought I could build my roll back up easily at any time. This is not true.
It takes time (a lot of time) to build a roll and garner the experience to move up in stakes. Any monkey could go on a rush and build a massive roll. I’m talking about a slow process where you can add the tools to your game to be competitive at the next limit.
That being said, I would like to give you a guideline to follow when moving up the ladder. I wish someone would’ve given me this when it was my turn. Take advantage of my trials and tribulations and read and re-read this article.
THE SWINGS OF BIGGER GAMES ARE…BIGGER: The players, on average, will be better when you move up and will put you in more difficult spots where you might make mistakes. This is why you need a bigger bankroll to play higher stakes. Say you can play live $1-$2 no-limit hold’em with 15 buy-ins, whereas you may need 20 or 25 buy-ins for $2-$5.
BE WILLING TO MOVE DOWN AT ANY GIVEN TIME: Take your ego and erase it from the equation. Money is cool, enough said. If you move up and start losing, whether it’s a structural leak in your game or fear of playing higher, whatever, move down immediately to a limit you can beat. The confidence you’ll gain from booking wins is invaluable when attempting to move up.
TAKE SHOTS: Yeah, I said it. I may get flamed for this one, but I’m a big fan of taking controlled shots at higher limits. When I’m crushing my limit and playing my “A” game, I may take a shot at a higher game every now and then. If things don’t go my way I know I can drop back when needed. You’ll never know how far you can go if you don’t take a few shots along the way. Just remember the reason you lost that buy-in at the bigger game may not have been because you aren’t good enough; It could’ve been a cooler or a bad beat that isn’t your fault. Have no fear; it’s only money.
THINK OF THE GAME OBJECTIVELY: Always look at it in terms of big blinds and percentage of the pot being bet. Don’t look at it in terms of money as it will negatively affect your play at the higher limits. I remember the first time I played $5-$10, I said to myself, “If I raise preflop with A-K, miss and c-bet, that’s like $200. Oh my God!” The game becomes much easier when you say, “OK, so he raised three times the big blind; what does that mean?”
Lastly, just have fun. It’s poker.
— Michael is a team pro at surebetpoker.net. Email him at MichaelJWolf33@gmail.com and follow his adventures on Twitter @mikewolf7.