Poker Essays

Moving up the levels.

By Nick Nicolaou. March 2007.

Don't be in a hurry to move up the limits.

Although your ultimate goal is to increase your bankroll and move up the ranks you need to be careful of moving up too quickly before you are ready for the next level. Many players run well when they first start off and believe that having a sufficient bankroll is enough to move up to the next level. They could not be more wrong!

There are many factors that should be involved in this decision and although bankroll size is one of them, it is not the only one. The higher you move up, the tougher the competition becomes. The tougher the competition becomes, the lower your edge becomes. The lower your edge becomes, the more variance you will be subjected to. The more variance you need to deal with, the more stress and frustration you will face. The more stress and frustration you face, the more inclined you are to tilt. The more you tilt, the more likely you will go broke.

It follows that because of this you require more buy-ins for a $5/10 bankroll then you would need for a $1/2 bankroll. So just because you felt comfortable playing $1/2 with a $4000 roll does not mean that playing $2/4 with an $8000 roll is good bankroll management. I would suggest increasing the amount of buy-ins you have in your roll for each level above $1/2 by at least 5 and preferably 10.

You should feel comfortable when playing in any game and it is hard to do that if you are feeling the pressure it is putting onto your bankroll. To feel comfortable moving up in limits you should be a proven winner at the limit below it. For many players being a proven winner means winning a few buy ins over the course of a few thousand hands and I would hope that you all realize that this in fact is not the case. I would suggest logging at least 50,000 hands at a given level before you should feel confident that you can beat it. The higher the level the more hands would be required before you can determine whether you are a winner or not. Most player's don't bother taking the time to do this, because they feel they are 'too good' to be playing so low for so long and it is this train of thought that leads to people going broke.

I recommend doing research on a particular level when considering whether or not to play at it. With the technology available online these days a player can uncover exactly how a particular game plays and can therefore determine whether or not they can adjust their own play to beat it. I am referring to data-mining games when you are not playing in them and using this data with Poker Tracker to prepare yourself for the new level. Looking at the biggest winners in the games and how they play is always helpful in understanding what it takes to beat a certain level and will also give you valuable information on how to beat the regulars in the game. By doing this before you actually play in the game you will arm yourself with the tools required to compete against players who are most likely much better than any competition you have faced before and this will give you an edge... as you will know something about them but they will know nothing about you.

Once you feel comfortable that you are well armed and you have made the adjustments needed for the new limit, you should try and ease your way into it instead of diving right in. Decreasing the number of tables and shortening the length of your sessions to increase your focus is definitely something that would be helpful in your first few thousand hands at a new limit. Pay attention and make notes about anything you see playing out differently to what you anticipated. Go back and run through each session you play, working out where you could be playing better.

In some respects playing a new limit is almost like learning a new game because of the new dynamics you are being introduced to. Also of great importance is creating a stop loss, whereby you stop playing the new limit and move back down if you lose a certain amount. This will prevent you losing your whole bankroll in a game that you are not ready for. By taking these small stabs at the game you will gain experience in it and will be stronger next time to try it whilst not risking your whole roll.

It also helps develop your discipline as a poker player if you can set these rules for yourself and stick to them. There is a learning curve that we must all face and it takes time to adjust to new players and styles, so taking your time will help you beat the game sooner. Although that may sound weird it is very accurate. It is much faster to take your time do things right the first time rather than going broke over and over again and having to work your way all the way back up.

By considering the above and putting it into practice you are taking active steps to move up the limits in an efficient and profitable way. Believe it or not but that alone puts you ahead of the majority of players who, to be honest, have no idea about what it takes to build a bankroll and keep it while moving up the limits. You must always have a plan. Set your goals and then formulate a plan to achieve them. Execute this plan and have contingency plans in place for when unexpected events present themselves.

Being a successful poker player has a lot to do with knowing yourself and it is true for many players that no-one else can beat them except for themselves. Don't be one of those people who have a head full of dreams and nothing else. Poker, like anything else in life, takes hard work and a lot of discipline. Start doing the right things early and you will find that it will make things easier for you later on.

Good Luck!

Nick Nicolaou
Card Academy Instructor

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