The dream of many
players is to play at the highest possible stakes where they can win vast fortunes playing a game they love and live a life of relative luxury. Whilst there is nothing wrong with aiming high, many of them will attempt to move up stakes far too quickly and risk losing their entire bankrolls.
Moving up through the different levels should be a gradual process especially because, like in most sports and games, the higher up you go the more difficult it becomes to win due to the players at those levels and stakes being much more skilled than before.
The first consideration to make when you plan on playing for higher stakes is that your bankroll is sufficient enough to allow you to play your usual style. In today’s game, a six-max no-limit Hold’em player should probably have around 25 buy-ins as a bankroll, so a player wanting to play $0.50/$1 with a $100 buy-in should have a cushion of around $2,500 available to play with.
Just because you have a sufficient bankroll it does not mean you are ready to
learn how to play poker
at that particular level. Before you move up, you should ensure that you have no obvious leaks in your game and that you are beating your current level and beating it very easily otherwise it defeats the object moving up. If you are only just beating $0.50/$1 no-limit, then there is little point moving up to $1/$2 as you could actually become a losing player due to the increase in your opponent’s skills.
You also need to attempt to stop yourself thinking about the value of the money at the table and instead think of it in terms of big blinds. Whilst this is not usually a problem at the micro-stakes where a player will only be risking $5-$25 at a time, once you start playing $1/$2 and above, the actually money won and lost can be quite significant indeed. Some players have a natural ability to do this and will happily get $1,000 in as a 55% favourite where as others would struggle to cope with losing just $50 in a single hand.
Once you move up you need to be prepared to move back down should your bankroll or win-rate dictate. Some people struggle to overcome their ego and move down in stakes when things are going badly at the table but it is better to move down and rebuild your bankroll and confidence and live to take another shot than it is to be stubborn and lose a large percentage of your bankroll and possibly all your confidence playing at stakes where you simply do not belong.