Tips for Moving Up Limits
Are you grinding successfully at lower limits and think it's time to up the stakes? Moving up limits can lead to a higher win rate per hour. Of course, you may also end up losing money by playing -EV games or going bust due to variance. Let's go over a few things to factor in when making the decision to move up the proverbial poker ladder:
Make Sure You Aren't Playing Scared
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If you think you think you have the poker skills to beat higher stakes games, make sure you are still playing as well as you normally do when you sit down at a higher buy-in table. Playing scared, whether because you don't think you have the bankroll or because you are intimidated by your opponents, will pretty much guarantee you will lose. Take a deep breath and attack the higher-stakes game like you would the games you typically play.
Play at the Most Optimal Time
Since you'll likely be a bit nervous the first time you play, jump into a higher-stakes game for the first time when you believe it is the most optimal for you. For example, if you see a few players you know you can beat, join at that time since you'll be more confident that it is +EV for you. If you play at a variety of sites, move up stakes at the site at which you've consistently performed the best.
Factor in Your Motivations for Higher Stakes Play
It seems a bit silly; most people play higher stakes just to win more money right? Well, some may also play higher stakes since they believe they may learn to play poker better by playing against a few more elite players. While this may be a reason to up the stakes, you should make sure you don't pay too much for your lessons!
Also, some people may just be bored at the lower limits that they are playing. The point of poker is to have fun first and foremost, so if you can afford to play higher stakes and the downside risk doesn't really strain you financially, then it might be the most +EV for you in terms of enjoyment.
Consider Increasing Low-Stakes Volume Instead
An alternative to playing $2-4 NL is playing two $1-$2NL games instead. Multi-tabling is obviously only available online, but the natural alternative to playing higher stakes is just playing more lower stakes. The only way to know which has a better ROI for you is to keep track of your wins and losses and measure which method is optimal for you.
Remember, You're Not Married to the Decision
Just because you decide to amp up the stakes you are playing doesn't mean you have to stay there. If you run bad or just have a bad feeling, just go back down to what you used to play or take a poker break for awhile.
Also, instead of feeling like you permanently move up stakes, consider just playing higher stakes games off an on when you feel they are very +EV for you. While there are all sorts of bankroll management articles out there, the decision-making as to what stakes to play is often largely dependent on the situation you find yourself in on any given day.