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Are You Ready to Move Up?

April 19, 2022
by Raise Your Edge

Moving up in stakes too fast is the #1 cause of poker players going broke and quitting the game. If you’re thinking about moving up in stakes, you have to be sure that you’re prepared.

Most poker players will either lose money at their current stake and try to get it back at higher stakes or sit down at games they have no business playing in the first place.

Unless you’re as lucky as Mike McDermott in the final scene in Rounders, don’t put your entire bankroll on the table and expect anything other than to walk out of the door broke. If you think you’re ready to move up, make sure to check these 5 boxes first.

Bankroll Management

First, you need to follow precise bankroll management.

For cash games, a 40 buy-in bankroll is sufficient to start playing at a certain stake. If you’re playing $1/$2, having 40 stacks of $200 behind (an $8,000 bankroll) would be advisable. You can start with less, but you’ll have to adjust your strategy and play a bit more conservatively, making sure not to take too many high variance spots at the table.

At an absolute minimum you should have 20 buy-ins, or a $4,000 bankroll for $1/$2. If you ever drop below 20 buy-ins, it’s time to move down in stakes.

This is where your discipline will play a massive part in your success, as you have to be able to control your emotions and always stick to good bankroll management. If you disregard this and move up too fast, be prepared to lose it all eventually.

Technical Skill

Almost as important as practicing good bankroll management is knowing your skill level compared to the field you’ll be moving up to compete against.

Try not to answer this all by yourself – also ask your peers for their help and advice. How good do they think you are? Analyze your stats and the population stats that you’ll be up against. Look at hands played at those stakes; do you see instances where people are making crazy plays? Can you see errors in the ways players at this stake are playing that you can exploit?

The more mistakes you see from your opponents, the better the odds that you’re a winning player in that field.

Sample Size

Heaters are great but they happen to all of us, even losing players. You need to have a decent sample size first before you can know whether you’re a winning player at the stake you’re currently playing.

Statistically it’s recommended that you need a sample of around 100k hands to accurately determine if you’re a winning player at a certain stake, but in real practice we don’t need to actually grind out 100k hands at low stakes.

You should move up in low stakes if you’re winning over at least 30k-50k hands, since the skill gap between players at NL5 vs NL25 is not very large. Once you start playing NL50 – NL100 you should definitely stick to your stake for a while and start aiming for 50k-100k hands before moving up.


Having the right mindset is vital when it comes to moving up in stakes.

Many players get scared of the money at higher stakes and become increasingly anxious about the skill level of their opponents. This leads them to trying to switch up their game last minute and leveling themselves into oblivion.

You have to be able to concentrate and play your game. Make sure that on the day you’re taking a shot that you’re well rested and in a good mood. Try working out beforehand and eating healthy, then go to the tables fully prepared and ready. Don’t do what most people do and take an impulsive shot to recoup earlier losses at your normal stake.

Plan what day you will take your shot and make sure you set yourself up for success mentally. For more mindset tips, check out this article featuring Raise Your Edge mindset coach Bahman Zarghami by clicking here.


Finally, connect with likeminded people who can hold you accountable to your bankroll management and skill level.

Having other players to grow with puts you on the fast track for poker success and allows you to study and improve much more efficiently, as well as make better decisions when it comes to moving up in stakes.

Join a discord server like the Raise Your Edge server, where there are thousands of active members who are working on their poker game just like you. Create study groups, analyze hands together and ask for feedback before making the leap up to higher stakes. Having poker friends to share the highs and the lows with is what will keep you going even when times are tough.

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