Bankroll Management: Shot-Taking and Moving Up in Stakes

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Senior Editor
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Shot-Taking and Moving Up in Stakes

Last week I spoke about the importance of bankroll management to all poker players regardless of their experience and skill levels. Although I cannot stress enough how crucial adhering to solid bankroll management is to continued success in poker, there are times when you are ready to take a shot at higher stakes or to move up to the next tier permanently.

For a second part of this three-part series on bankroll management, let’s look more closely at factors you should be considering before making that move upward in stakes.


Last month Rich Ryan had some good advice to share about the subject of “taking shots.” “Taking a shot” refers to playing games that have higher stakes than you usually play, but on a temporary basis. For example, a player who primarily plays cash online games with stakes of $0.05/$0.10 may jump into a $0.10/$0.25 or $0.25/$0.50 game.

If you are going to take a shot at higher stakes, you must remember the following golden rules:

  • You are not taking a shot in an attempt to win losses back.
  • You will move back to stakes that your bankroll dictates once your shot-taking is finished.

All too often I read about players who have been on a losing streak and take a shot at higher stakes in an attempt to win their money back, and more often than not those players only manage to lose even more of their bankroll doing so.

Step back and think about this for a moment — surely the best time to take a shot is when you are playing well and variance is on your side, thereby increasing your confidence and hopefully your focus, too. It stands to reason, then, that while on a downswing and perhaps not playing your best poker, that isn’t going to be the best time to take a shot at higher stakes.

By all means, reward yourself with the occasional shot one or two levels above your current stakes, but please move back down and stick to a bankroll management plan once you are finished with the shot-taking.

Moving Up in Stakes

You’ve been reading the strategy articles here at PokerNews for a while now, have been sticking to a good bankroll management plan, and have been winning. Congratulations! However, you have been playing from a 30 buy-in bankroll and at present only have 27 buy-ins for the next-highest stakes. What do you do?

You could wait until you have a 30 or more buy-ins for the stakes you want to play, or you could take a two buy-in shot and move back down if you lose those two buy-ins. In the latter case, even if the worst case scenario happened and you lost your two buy-ins taking your shot, you would still have a very healthy bankroll at your current stakes which you could use to rebuild again.

Remember, having a bankroll for a specific buy-in level does not necessarily mean you have to restrict yourself to playing those stakes. If you do move up and do not feel comfortable at your new stakes, then move back down again until you can build enough momentum and confidence to compete at the next level.

Taking shots is an important part of bankroll building and skill development, and it can also be a great way to keep the game fresh and exciting. Playing countless hands of micro- and low-stakes poker can be tedious — it’s why they call it “grinding” — so the odd shot here and there in higher games can give you a taste of things to come. Plus you never know, you may run well and add a welcomed chunk of cash to your bankroll.

Next week we’ll conclude this series with some strategy advice regarding one of the most enjoyable aspects of poker — cashing out.

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