Moving Up in Limits

written by: John

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Moving up in limits is the goal for the majority of online poker players. After all, who wouldn't want to play with the best of the best for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars at any given time?

But the fact of the matter is that many players have issues when it comes to moving up in limits. Some players move up too soon, either before they have an adequate bankroll and/or skill set. Others will move up when they're ready, yet will psyche themselves out and not play poker to the best of their abilities. And then there are players who are more than ready to move up but for some reason they choose not to.

So with all of that in mind, the goal of this article is to highlight what you need to consider when deciding whether to move up in limits or not.  

Poker Bankroll

Your poker bankroll is going to be one of the most important variables to consider before moving up in stakes. The reason being is that no matter how well you play or how confident you are in your game, swings will happen. You want to be prepared for these swings by having an adequate bankroll for the games and stakes you are moving up too. This will ensure that you have the best possible chance at succeeding at your move up attempt as well as avoid busting your whole roll.

We have already covered our bankroll tips extensively in other articles. However, as a reminder, your bankroll should meet the minimums listed below before you even think about taking a shot:

·         20 buy-ins for cash games
·         50-100 buy-ins for sit n go's
·         100+ buy-ins for larger MTTs

Quite honestly, I'm a person who likes to make my move ups as risk free as possible. So if it were me, I would actually do 1.5-2x times what I listed above. Doing this should also keep you from having to move down so quickly to rebuild your roll if you run into some variance on your move up.

Speaking of which, being able to move down is just as important as having the roll to move up. In order to avoid going broke and having to start over again, you must be able to move down if your attempt is unsuccessful. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

Skill Set

Being a winning player at your current game and stakes is also extremely important when looking to take a shot at higher limits. I mean, why would you bother to move up if you're a losing player? You'll only lose more and lose it faster.

So how good do you need to be to move up? That's difficult to say. The best way to determine whether you're ready to move up is to look at your statistics for the games you're playing. Do you have a high win-rate or ROI? How does it compare to your peers or the players at the level you're trying to move up too? If you're crushing your current game and have decent stats for the games you want to move up to, then you very could be ready. Be aware though that you should have a fairly large sample size when determining if your skill set is good enough. This is even more important the higher in stakes you go.


You can have all the money and skills in the world, but if you aren't confident in your abilities to play on a higher level, you won't.

From experience, it's easy to look at the dollar amount and psyche yourself out thinking that just because you are spending more to play, the level of competition is going to be higher as well. But that's not always the case. You'll notice that fish and recreational players do play the higher limit games. Even the regulars at those particular games and stakes aren't always "good" and are in fact fish themselves. The best thing to do is ignore the buy-in amount and play your "A" game - pay attention to reads, maybe different tendencies for those games/stakes and the winnings should simply follow. The other thing you can do is mix the buy-in you currently play with the games you are looking to move up to. For example, if you currently play $6 sit n gos, you might mix in some of those with $10 sit n gos. This will help get over the buy-in amount as well as help you realize that the games aren't that much different from each other.

Quite honestly, as long as you have the bankroll, confidence can often times even override the skill set needed to move up. This is not to say you can suck and succeed at the higher levels. But you can be a marginal poker player and as long as you are confident that you can compete and are willing to work hard at your game, you will succeed.    

Summary of How to Move Up in Limits in Poker

Moving up in poker doesn't need to be difficult. Just be sure that you have an adequate bankroll, are honest about your skill set and are confident in your abilities to play on a higher level. The rest will simply work itself out.