Poker is one of those rare bears that give players a legitimate shot at winning in the casino. One of the more charming aspects of the game is that regardless of how much time you devote to the game, you’ll never master it.
There’s no such thing as a perfect game; it’s untamed and unforgiving. It reminds me of golf in that way, and it’s what drew me to the poker table over two decades ago.
While you could never perfect your poker skills to the point that you’ll never lose a hand, it’s critical that you never stop working to improve. As you progress and move up in stakes, you’ll face increasingly talented competition.
Here are 12 strategies for poker players that want to move to bigger stakes. Utilize the tactics here to hit the ground running when you finally get away from the $1/$2 tables.
1 – Get Your Bankroll Boosted Before Taking Another Step
For poker players, the bankroll is key to opening up possibilities. Regardless of how much ability a player has, they must have the bankroll to support their effort.
Since the stakes are raised, you’ll be counting on your higher bankroll to carry you through any losing streaks. You’ll also want the additional funds to capitalize when you’re winning.
Get your funds in order before you take any steps to move up to higher-stakes games.
2 – Sustain Winning Poker at the Smaller Stakes
Before you make a concerted push to play at a higher stake, you should be winning at your current level. That doesn’t mean one winning session on the mid-stakes games before moving to high-stakes.
It would be best to be a consistent winner who enjoys sustained profits before moving to more money and better players. That means sometimes you need to remain where you are until your poker skills develop.
If you regularly lose money in the more minor stake games, you’ll undoubtedly lose more by moving to better competition.
3 – Address the Weaknesses in Your Game Before Moving Up
Even when you’re consistently winning money, there may be holes in your game. I don’t know a single poker player with prominent areas of weakness or is constantly working to spot their weakness.
The more time you spend shoring up your game, the better off you’ll be when you make the leap. Find the areas of your poker game that need improvement and focus on eliminating them.
4 – Make Some Trial Runs
One good way to gauge whether you’re ready to make a move to higher stakes is by making a trial run. There’s no substitute for real-world poker experience, and the trial run is your gateway to the higher-stakes poker games.
It’s essential that you keep your bankroll as small as possible during these trials to ensure that you don’t go broke testing the water. However, it would be best to make several of these runs to establish a baseline.
One key to these trial runs is establishing shorter time and loss limits than you’re accustomed to at the lower stakes. If you play for the same time frame against better players for more cash, the result could be devastating.
Keep your sessions short and sweet. The goal is to get a feel for how the game flows at higher stakes and get a taste of the competition.
5 – Study the Game Constantly
I mentioned earlier that the best poker player on the planet works non-stop to identify areas that need improvement. That should be true for all players hoping to progress to bigger and better poker games.
One definitive way to become a better poker player is to become a student of the game. There’s almost zero chance that you’ll somehow learn everything there is to know about poker.
Still, it’s paramount that you match your competition to your current skill level. Ideally, you’ll be playing against less skilled opponents with money to lose.
6 – Avoid the Temptation to Treat Yourself
If you move to the higher-level games and start enjoying immediate success, it can be tempting to want to splurge on yourself.
You want to avoid that temptation. Any extra money you’re winning needs to be put back into your gambling bankroll.
Taking this step will ensure that you can build your bankroll to a level that will maximize your poker play in the future and carry you through any downswing.
7 – Understand the Risks That Come with Higher Stakes
You must understand that more significant risks come from moving to higher stakes. The blinds may not seem drastically different in the grand scope, but several factors increase the risk.
Typically, your competition will be much stronger at the mid-tier tables than the bottom rung. That can put your entire poker endeavor at risk.
The expectation at the higher-level games is that there’s more money floating around the pots. This increase in the amount of money can also significantly increase your risks.
It would help if you were mindful of the additional risks to your bankroll from playing higher-stakes games.
8 – Get Your Body Prepared for the Stiff Competition
Too many recreational poker players underestimate the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, diet, exercise, and sleep are pillars of a well-groomed poker regiment.
Since they don’t have to be up for work at 6 am, they have plenty of time to catch up on sleep and squeeze in a workout before repeating the process.
You need to develop a healthy routine before jumping to better competition.
9 – Use Failure as a Tool for Improvement
If you’re going to succeed as a poker player, you can’t let failure stand in your way. All the successful poker players have endured numerous setbacks.
It’s how they process these failures that solidify them as incredible players. Instead of looking at your losses as a reason to give up, use them as learning experiences.
A failure is a great tool and an even better motivator, don’t waste it by feeling sorry for yourself.
10 – Consider Taking a Hiatus Before Making the Change
Before moving up in stakes, one solid strategy is to take a brief hiatus from the game. You’re likely playing more poker than you ever have before moving to a higher level.
Taking a break from poker completely can give your body and mind a chance to recoup will send you into the more significant stakes refreshed. You’ll also be excited about the opportunity to get back to the game you love.
The break doesn’t necessarily need to be a full-fledged vacation, but the more you can disconnect, the more refreshed you’ll be when you get back to the tables.
11 – Be Confident in Your Ability
Confidence goes a long way in life, and it pays dividends in the poker room. One of the reasons players fail when moving to more enormous stakes is that they lack the confidence to play their typical game.
First, you need to bet bigger to account for the higher stakes. Secondly, you shouldn’t overthink every decision; you’ve already put in the work. Finally, better competition can’t scare you away; you should be better than many players at this point.
12 – Understand That Your Past Success Won’t Make You Profitable
The most prominent pitfall poker players face when moving to higher-stakes games is that their past success will somehow translate to wins now.
To maintain a profitable poker streak, you should continuously be striving to become a better player. That will keep the fire burning and ensure that you always leave the poker room better than when you arrived.
Playing poker is a lifelong endeavor with hidden rewards that money could never buy. Still, the money is a big part of why most of us gravitated to the poker rooms in the first place.
Use these 12 strategies for poker players that want to move to bigger stakes, and you’ll soon be earning more money from poker than you’ve ever imagined.