Playing higher up in Texas Hold’em

Moving up in levels at any form of poker is not as simple as having more money and a bigger bankroll. This is a bit like saying that a $300-$600 no-limit Texas Hold em poker player is essentially the same as a $1-$2 player but with more money and a bigger bankroll. It is a fact that no matter how good you become or how much money you have behind you that becoming a successful high-stakes poker player or even a middle stakes player for that matter is not automatic.

How are you going to play high-stakes poker if your attitude to risk is low? How are you going to play high-stakes poker when your opponents are every bit as good as you or better? How are you going to attain an earn rate when the players are so good that there is no value? How are you going to play high-stakes poker if you cannot mentally accept a $500,000 or a $1 million downswing?

If you tilt at the thought of losing $500 then what in heavens name makes you think that you could lead a normal everyday life after losing $100k in a single day? To a large extent players that can play at these levels and take what it throws at you are born rather than made. This is why merely having intelligence is no guarantee of success. Intelligent people are ten a penny at the middle stakes levels and above so don’t think that just because you have read a few poker books that you are better than them.

You will no doubt have heard of the snowball effect and what exactly that means. Well when you move up in levels then this is exactly what is happening to you but in reverse. The higher you go in poker then the more difficult it becomes to extract money and to accept the higher levels and the swings that you incur at those levels mentally. The snowball effect becomes so severe that once you reach as low as NL400 these days then the players are so good that value is hard to find.

I have always maintained that a better way to make money from online poker and a safer way is to play low-stakes games but play lots of them. A good limit hold’em player who was playing ten tables at $1-$2 limit with a good rakeback deal could be making as much money or more as a $10-20 or even a $20-$40 player who was single tabling. This may seem like an extreme example but it is certainly true.

The ability to play more and more tables has led to a mass compression of skill where the very good players are no longer playing their usual levels but are multi-tabling at lower stakes levels and making just as much money or in some cases more money. So it is clear that moving up even one single level is something that needs to be done with care and a reckless move up to a level that is too tough for you can destroy months of careful work.

Posted on Friday, 15th October 2010 .