Daryl Jace

Teacher, Blogger, Poker player.

Moving Up stakes

This isn't going to be an article telling you specifically what amount of buyins you need before you take a shot. I don't know enough about kelly criterion and besides that the subject has been covered a million times already (including RonFezBuddy's article MTT Bankroll Management Guidelines and Game Selection Tips) . I will instead make the focus of the article about what skill set you need to compete at different levels and how to acquire that skill set. I'll start with what it takes to make the move from low to mid stakes (by mid stakes I mean 20-50 rebuys, 200$ freezeouts and majors).  

The Fundamentals of Mid Stakes

To move from low to mid stakes your going to need a strong understanding of the fundamentals. This can/should get you a decent ROI in mid stakes MTTs . By fundamentals I mean push/fold ranges , reshove and call reshove rangescbetting , and preflop and postflop bet sizing . The only way to get good at the these things is too put in the time with tools like sngwizard, poker stove,ICMIZER, sngpowertools,TPE and 2p2 ( im sure there are plenty of other programs to use) .You need to be good but not great at this stuff to compete in the mid stakes MTTs.   Fundamentals are a essential part of poker and its very hard to beat mid stakes online MTTs without a good understanding of them. I'm sure its much cooler to think about 3barreling or river check raise bluffs, then to sit in front of your computer screen and hit compute on pokerstove all day but its a necessary part of being a poker player. If you don't have a good understanding of sizings and cbetting how can you possibly grasp when u should 3barrel or river c/r bluff? If you wanted to learn ice skating should u 1st learn how to actually skate or should u try right off the bat to do triple axels? In poker its basically the same way. Sure there are some people who have this innate intuitive ability to just know what to do and crush people without much understanding of the fundamentals but not many people have that gift as far as i know. If you feel you have this great intuitive instinct/feel for how to play poker thats great, and you should play a style that fits your personality and that suits you but i still think you can benefit greatly by having a good knowledge of the fundamentals. Knowing the fundamentals also means knowing how people who play solid fundamental poker are going to play in a lot of spots. How can that not be helpful, even for a intuitive feel player?  A great way to get a grasp on the fundamentals are through TPE's Theory Videos.


 To beat the highstakes MTTs you will need a much greater understanding of these fundamentals. But competing in High stakes MTTs takes a lot more than good fundamentals . You need to be creative , you need to have a good understanding of not just the fundamentals but some of the more esoteric parts of the game. Such as : 3betting  , leveling , table dynamics , 4betting , balancing  , barreling etc. . Playing HSMTT's is not a easy task it takes a lot of hard work and you will probably have to get your ass kicked for awhile and lose a lot of money before you start winning. Some of things you should do to work on beating HSMTTs are , thinking abstractly about all aspects of the game, reading/posting on 2p2, watching videos, reviewing sessions talking to other players, and of course working on the fundamentals. 

Play Less Tables as you Move Up

When your playing higher stakes then normal its generally a good idea to play less tables so you can concentrate more and learn from the experience. It is also vital to review those sessions by yourself and with another person , especially if that person is already a winner at the those stakes . Firing up 16 tables of your typical games and then 1 or 2 higher stakes games is generally not a good idea and this goes for the low to mid stakes move as well. You simply wont be learning much from the experience. Less tables = more learning . More tables = less learning . Its important to be honest with yourself and your ability but to still be confident. You need to put in the work before taking a shot to be confident when your playing in those games. If you put in the work and you know you worked hard and learned a lot you will feel a lot more confident about your abilities. Thats where your greatest sense of confidence will/should  come from , not from your wins or sick hands you played but from the fact that u know u worked harder than most everybody else . You will see yourself becoming a  better player with all the work your putting in and that will be a huge confidence booster for you.

Open Your Mind

 At the same time you need to be humble enough to admit and be willing that you still have a lot to learn. If you go in thinking your the best and every1 else sucks ( not as uncommon a thought for players as you would think) your probably not going to learn much. When you see a reg do something that you think is weird or really bad don't just dismiss the guy as terrible immediately and IM it to your friends to make fun of how bad this winning reg is to make you feel better about yourself. Save it into your notepad go over it later and think about why he might of did that play , even finding some merit in the line without necessarily agreeing with the play can be very helpful. Of course a decent % of the time the guy was probably just clueless or made some terrible mistake but that doesn't mean its still not worth it to try and find out. The fact is that none of us know everything about poker and sometimes we will see someone do something that looks weird or bad to us and automatically think thats terrible. What about the possibility that that player just knows something more than you do or seen something you didn't? People throughout history have mocked new, radical and different ideas. There was a doctor who had the "crazy" idea that other doctors should wash their hands before delivering a baby, he was berated and mocked for his entire career and was eventually admitted to an asylum. . As a result  his ideas weren't implemented until after his death and 15-25% of  women died of  puerperal fever while giving birth .

Poker is no different, people  7 years ago used to berate you if you jammed 10bb with 65s from the sb because nobody ever did the math then . Obviously the latter situation isn't nearly as dire but I think it helps illustrate how problematic close-mindedness can be . You need to be willing to see other peoples point of view and analyze what they are doing/saying objectively. Being dogmatic and married to your ideas slows and can altogether spot innovation, creativity and learning. Don't be scared to make mistakes , mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process . Its not about who makes the least mistakes its about who learns the most from their mistakes. Be willing to make mistakes and accept that you have indeed made a mistake. You need to hold yourself accountable and not look to blame others or variance or whatever on your losing. People who constantly complain and don't take ownership of their mistakes will definitely find it hard to succeed/improve.

Basically what im trying to say is that if you wanna move up stakes you have to learn , if you wanna learn you have to be open minded.  To play in higher stakes games you have to be confident and to be confident you have to put in the time learning the game. It all comes down to learning and I hope this article has given you a better idea how to do that.


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