Taking Shots in No Limit

Despite our understanding of the principles of bankroll management in No Limit Holdem, there’s still an impatient kid inside all of us who wants to move up the ranks as quickly as possible.

While it certainly isn’t good to do anything reckless, there are times when it can be acceptable to move up and test out a higher level before your bankroll has quite reached the recommended guideline. This practice, commonly known as “taking a shot,” can work out great as long as you know why you are doing it, which I am about to explain in some detail.

Conventional Rules

The rule you will inevitably encounter in poker bankroll management strategy is to only play a particular No Limit level when you have 20 buy-ins. This means that in order to play a .05/.10 game where the maximum buy-in is $10, you should have $200 in your bankroll. To move up to the next level, typically the $25 game, you would need $500.

When Taking a Shot is Okay

The general window for taking a shot is when you’ve built your bankroll up to roughly 15 buy-ins at the higher level. This would mean that to move up from 10NL to 25NL, you would have over $350. If you try it any earlier, you are taking too much of a risk and exposing your whole bankroll to the dangers of short-term luck.

Do Some Homework

Taking a shot should be an educated decision, not an impulse move. Since you play online, you have an advantage as you can easily do some research on the competition. If you’re itching to move up a level, pull up a few tables of those stakes. Does it look like it’s easy to find a pool of fish and calling stations? That suggests that it might be time to take a shot. If you find mostly tables full of tight-aggressive regs, on the other hand, it might not be a great idea to tackle it until you build your bankroll a bit more. Table selection is so important in No Limit that it should be a major factor in your decision. When taking a shot, you need to be investing more resources into table selection than you do at your current level.

Be Disciplined and Don’t Overdo It!

Discipline is an absolutely required trait to have before you ever can take a shot. If you lose 2-3 buy-ins right off the bat, you must move back down immediately. Playing for too long below the threshold of 15 buy-ins is far too risky. Also, losing as a result of bad beats is no excuse, and you must go back down no and build your roll back not matter how “unjustly” it occurred. Finally, if you get on a hot streak and win several buy-ins at the new level, it can be tempting to continue the rush by moving up again for a chance at big money. After all, you’d only be playing with profits! This type of thinking should be avoided at all costs. Moving up two levels in a short period of time will put you way out of your comfort zone and this would break the most fundamental of bankroll rules.

Many successful high No Limit players say that it was their decision to take a shot early in their career has helped them get where they are today. In order to be take smart No Limit shots, however, you must have a good reason for doing it. And “I’m bored playing against these donks” or “I want to be rich right now” doesn’t count!

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