Taking Shots Outside of Your Bankroll

Taking shots

Those of you who read last week’s article about the importance of bankroll management are forgiven for thinking that the title of this latest free poker strategy piece is a mistype. How can managing your poker bankroll be so key to success if you can start taking shots outside it? Keep reading to find out.

Let’s get one thing straight before we kick on here: solid bankroll management is vitally important and should be adhered to all the time, well, almost all the time. That said, there will be opportunities that present themselves that cold see you taking shots out of your bankroll’s constraints.

Taking shots at higher stakes games is something that is to be encouraged under the correct circumstances. While we would never advocate sitting in a $25/$50 cash game when your usual stakes are $1/$2, it can sometimes be a good idea to plump yourself down in a $2/$5 game, or a level above the stakes you consider to be your bread and butter.

Taking Shots: Always Look For An Edge

Imagine this scenario. You head to your local casino to play some $1/$2 no limit Hold’em and see that a $2/$5 game is running at the next table. At this $2/$5 game, there are a couple of players who are obviously intoxicated and another player who looks like a tourist who seems to be playing just for the fun of it. This could be a great table to take a shot at because the conditions have slightly stacked the odds in your favor.

By all means take a set in this bigger game, but, and it’s a big but, do not be afraid to drop back to your usual stakes if this session does not go to plan. And that is one of the golden rules of taking shots in higher buy-in games: know when to cut your losses and get the hell out of Dodge.

The same principle applies to online poker. You may see a game at the next highest stakes that has some loose-passive players seated at it, opponents who are not sat with a full stack.

Another situation you may find yourself in is when you have been winning over a period of time and plan to move up when you have 30 buy-ins for those stakes, but you currently only have 28 buy-ins for them. Here, you could take a shot at the bigger game if you are prepared to drop back down to your usual level if you lose a stack or two.

Taking Shots: Consider Selling Some Of Your Action

Tournament players are often taking shots, especially when there is a special edition of a particular event taking place, like the recent $1 million guaranteed Sunday Storm at PokerStars. If you were bankrolled for $5.50 tournaments and this tournament came around, it would be worth taking a shot at the $11 buy-in because it’s not a world away from your current level plus you have the added advantage of there being a massive potential prize should the stars align and you go deep in the bigger event. Always consider the risk-to-reward of any situation in poker.

Multi-table tournament players have the added advantage that they can sell some of their action to friends, family and backers; you can still do this in cash games but it is a little more complicated. There may be a $109 buy-in tournament that you have to play, yet your bankroll dictates you should only be playing $22 games. Why not sell a percentage of the $109 buy-in? Sure, if you cash you’re going to give away some of those profits but you still get the experience of playing against better opponents and should you take down the bigger event, you are still going to get your hands on a sizeable prize.

Before we sign off here, let us highlight two things that should be abundantly clear to anyone taking shots in poker. First, never sit in a game that you are not confident you have some sort of edge in. Be honest with yourself when deciding how much of an edge you have. Never sit in a game where you are afraid of your opposition because you simply will not be able to play poker to the best of your ability and you will either lose or not win as much as you ordinarily would as a result.

Second, never take shots to win back losses or if you are enduring a downswing. You should never, ever chase your losses regardless of taking shots or not, but you should only ever take the plunge in bigger, more expensive games if you have been running well and feel variance has been on your side for a while. Running badly in bigger games leads to bigger losses, perhaps a significant percentage of your precious bankroll.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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