When Do You Know It’s Time to Move Up Your Poker Stakes?

So, you’ve learned a few things about poker and you’re itching to move up the ladder. Poker is a big world and there’s always room for another star of course. However, one of the things that you’re going to have to start thinking about isn’t just how much poker you want to play — you also need to start thinking about what stakes and limits that you’re trying to play at.

Here’s the obvious point that needs to be said and gotten out of the way before we just burst — higher stakes means higher competition. We know that’s probably obvious, but for people that don’t feel that it’s obvious, they tend to think that they’re going to immediately rise up and start dominating the tables. Unfortunately, real life poker doesn’t really work that way. If you don’t plan to win, you’re going to end up getting crushed.

Hold on, back up for a moment. We’ve jumped the gun. You have to first figure out when it’s safe to move up your stakes and limits before you can make any changes to your strategy. So here’s what you need to know on that.

First and foremost, you will want to make sure that you’ve got enough bankroll to facilitate the move. We recommend for cash games that you have 20-25 times the buy in. That means for a $10 cash game, you need to have $200-$250 available. Can you do it with less? Sure you can but it’s going to be a tight and very uncomfortable game. Every decision is going to feel like it’s crushing you. Why would you want to put yourself through that type of stress if you could honestly avoid it?

Having a solid bankroll leads to decisions made from logic rather than emotion. Acting from fear is only going to get you marked as a target. Also, if you have significantly less bankroll than other people, you can actually bet that someone is going to make sure that they aim for you. It could be intimidation through betting or it could be bluffing. You’d have to be on your guard hardcore to make a super small bankroll work. Can it be done? Yes, but not when you’re trying to move up at the ladder.

You also need to think about your numbers when it comes to your current poker level. Are you playing poker at a level where you can indeed move up? Look over your past games and percentages. How much money are you winning at your current level? Does it match up to your poker money making goals at the moment? If it doesn’t, then you need to stay at the level that you’re at. The last thing that you want to do is try to rush too quickly into a higher stake/limit only to find that you really can’t handle it.

Keep in mind that we’re really not trying to belittle you or make you feel bad just because you’re not crushing $200/$400 games. The people that are doing it big at that level have literally played hundreds of thousands of hands to get there — and put in 10-12 hours a day at the poker tables in order to get there. It takes time in order to build up that type of skill, and you shouldn’t feel bad that you’re only moving from 1/2 to 2/4 play or 2/4 to 5/10 play. Every little step counts and adds up to something big.

Downswings and upswings are part of the life of a professional poker player, and amateur poker players also need to realize that they have to plan for those rainy days. There are going to be times where you have some heavy losses. If these hurt you mentally and cause you to shut down, then you really need to think about doing something else within the world of poker– like moving back down. Even famous poker players can get stung when they stay at a stake/limit level that isn’t comfortable enough for them to buckle down and make the right decision. If you play at too high of a stake, you might start getting nervous and feeling like you can’t do it.

Again, you shouldn’t put too much emphasis on time. If you feel confident about moving to the next level and you have the bankroll, then you definitely should. If you know yourself well enough to know that moving to a higher stake level is just going to make you frustrated and too nervous to take risks, then you might want to stay at the level you’re at a little while longer.

The time is definitely now to play your best game of poker — why not get started today? You’ll definitely be glad you did!