Knowing When to Move Up in Limits

Pretty much every poker player has heard about how some nosebleed high stakes cash game poker player got their start in poker by playing micro stakes SNGs or cash games and built up their million dollar bankrolls over an incredibly short period of time. The journey of some of these elite poker players is quite remarkable, and the important thing to keep in mind when thinking about your own poker goals and aspirations is that none of this would have been possible if it wasn't for these players to have had the confidence of taking on bigger games.

As a poker player with ambitions of playing poker and to make a lot of money, it really is imperative that you move up in limits where there is more money at stake to win. Even though as you move up in stakes you can expect to find the competition to be slightly better, sometimes you might not even notice the difference. The main point to remember, however, is that if you can maintain a similar win rate at the higher limit, it will allow you to make so much more money than what would have been possible otherwise. The higher stakes online games are raked at a significantly less rate as well.

With that being said, you need to have the right approach when thinking about moving up in limits, because if you don't put any thought into it, you risk going broke, and therefore will no longer be able to enjoy playing poker, until you build up enough of a roll to start playing again, which can take some time.

There are usually two distinct and very paths a poker player will take. Many winning poker players wait patiently, build up a huge bankroll, and stick with grinding the same limit for a long period of time, when they could have and probably should have moved up in limits a long time ago. These players tend to be risk averse. On the other hand, some players move up in limits to chase losses, which is only going to end really badly.

Knowing when to move up in limits is a natural progression and something you should do when it feels right and your poker bankroll can properly support it. If you take shots at bigger games with no regard for proper bankroll management, the money you're playing with at the table will mean a lot to you, which is a recipe for disaster.

Regardless of the stakes and games you are playing, you must practice smart bankroll management. If you have played poker for any significant length of time, then you would know swings in a positive or negative direction as a result of variance will be inevitable and hard on you, and they will become larger once you start playing higher limit games, so make sure you are properly rolled for any games you want to take shots at.

For cash games, if you're a competent cash player, 25 buy-ins for any given limit, is a decent sized roll. Once you have enough buy-ins for the limit you want to play, it can be profitable moving up just as long as you have confidence in your game. For SNGs and MTTs you want an even bigger bankroll to support the greater variance in tournaments. When it comes to SNGs you want around 50 buy-ins and for MTTs, have at least 100 buy-ins.

Although these general guidelines for bankroll management are a good starting point to go on, having a big enough roll is not the only concern you should have. Obviously you want to make sure you can beat the higher stakes games you are thinking of playing. If you've never played a certain stake, you can really only go off acquaintances in the poker world or go off gut instinct, but at the end of the day, you will never really know unless you take a shot.

Also, keep in mind there is nothing stopping you from moving up in limits to see how you go and moving back down to your normal stakes if you don't run very good and your roll has taken a bit of a hit. Don't allow your ego to get in the way of moving back down if the results aren't going your way or if you've lost a bit of confidence and feel like you're the fish amongst the sharks with no real idea of what you're doing.

If you are playing poker online and multi-table 4 tables of 25NL, for example, you could consider taking a shot at 50NL, but instead of moving up in one go, you could play 3 tables of 25NL and a single table of 50NL to see what it's like. Once you are comfortable with doing that then you can slowly migrate to strictly 4 tables of 50NL.