Being a recreational poker player, I stick to low-limit hold’em games. Over time, I have moved from $2-$4 limits and now play $4-$8. Often, I have thought about moving up to $5-$10. Perhaps you too have considered the prospect of moving up from the game you are now playing.
You have been winning regularly at the current limits; so you contemplate moving up to the next level where you can increase the amount of your winnings. One advantage to moving up in stakes is you would be prone to play much more carefully and focus more on the game – and likely go home much “richer.” Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?
Of course, the situation could be just the opposite: Because you have been losing session after session, you decide to move down, and play at lower stakes. (We all hate to lose!) For one thing, your opponents are likely to be less skilled; so your chances of winning would be a lot better. On the other hand, you would miss the opportunity to win more. And furthermore, compared to the size of the pots, the rake is relatively more costly in lower-limit games.
Move Up; Win More: Let’s examine the idea of moving up – playing at higher limits – so you can further increase your winnings. But, before making the change, consider there can, in fact, be real disadvantages. For one thing, the higher the stakes, the more likely there will be more highly skilled opponents at the table. That would make it more difficult to beat the game.
Also, you could experience more stress than you feel ready to tolerate, so you fail to play your A-game, thereby making the session more costly and less enjoyable. Faced with more stress when you move up in limits, and thus being more harried, you are less likely to make the best decisions. And, you would be less prone to apply some of the new strategies and tactics you are trying to master. For example, perhaps, you had just read about the Esther Bluff in “The Art of Bluffing.”
But, at the higher stakes game, you are too hesitant to try out something unfamiliar to you. In short, it could be harder to develop or hone new skills when you move to higher stakes games – at least for a while. (Eventually, as you gain experience and confidence, you might muster the courage.)
It goes without saying, it is not smart to move up when you may be on tilt or otherwise emotionally disturbed. In that case, it would be better to take a break from your table – or change to another table that is less aggressive, and where your opponents have yet to evaluate your playing traits. A fresh start.
Our Advice: Having made the decision to move up to the next level of limits, play more cautiously – at least at the beginning. Make good use of the Hold’em Algorithm.
Observe your opponents as carefully as possible. Be especially on your guard against opponents with the bigger stacks – at least until you determine what type of player each is. It’s best to focus your main attention on one or two opponents at a time.
Have due respect for tight players; almost for sure they have powerful hands when they come out betting or raise a previous bettor.
Try to be seated to the right of tight players; they are less likely to raise you after you call a bet or make a raise. Likewise, it’s best to be seated to the left of very aggressive players. Based on your hole cards, you might decide to muck your hole-cards, and relax as you observe the action. At the same time, perhaps you can observe a few tells.
After playing with caution and focus for a while, and winning, you will gain the confidence to be more aggressive on occasion, and more deceptive. Then you are on your way to win more chips at the higher-limit game.
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