Friday, September 02, 2005

Warning Signs

A lot of people should move up in limits. I read the comments of a TON of people about their online poker play, both in forums and in blogs, and most of them are playing below the level they should.

Whether to change levels at which you play is a dangerous subject. A lot of people playing at low levels feel inadequate, but are scared of playing for higher dollar amounts. They can be very defensive about it. A lot of people are very comfortable at the level they are playing, and don't want to change anything to take them out of the comfort zone.

Which is fine to me, actually. I know that "stasis = death," but if playing for more money is going to make you play differently because you are afraid of going broke, then you probably shouldn't move up.

But the flipside is MUCH WORSE. If you move up in levels because the level you are playing at "just doesn't do it anymore," you might be looking at a much more serious problem.

We all love the "action." We get a thrill out of playing poker, even if that thrill is diminished over the tens of thousands of hands we play. Having the hard decisions, making great moves, and outlasting the suckouts to be a profitable player is an exciting proposition for us. But if you have to increase the stakes just to "keep it exciting," then you are in a scary cycle.

Many of us have experienced this when trying out a new game. How do we play micro-limit Omaha Eight to try and learn the game when we are accustomed to $5/$10 limit hold em? It's not in us to play a lower level just because we "expect to lose." We NEVER expect to lose!

So what are the good reasons for moving up? Well, the obvious one is that your bankroll isn't increasing (percentage wise) like it has. There's a very fine line between this and "keeping it exciting," but it's a very real one.

A lot of us move up because we want to "see what it's like." We inevitably discover that it's exactly the same. There are rocks and maniacs at every level, and if we practice good table selection and play our own game, we can succeed. The danger of this "experiment" at the higher level is that we will always feel like a failure if we drop back down to the previous level.

The best reason to move up is simply that our bankroll dictates it. If you're sitting on $3000 in neteller, you probably shouldn't be toiling away at the $1/$2 game anymore, griding out those bonuses.

But wouldn't it be much easier to reduce your bankroll and buy yourself something nice, than it would to explore the world of higher limits? Like one commenter said "I don't understand why you'd move up in limits, just so you can keep moving up in limits." This can be a losing game, kind of like the Peter Principle. If you keep rising until you reach your level of incompetence, you can only go broke. What is the point of that?

Some of us play just to PLAY. We can play a freeroll just as fervently as the Party Poker Million. We can agonize over a $.10/$.20 decision as hard as we would over a $30/$60 decision. We can't say "fuck it, it's only $.20." We want to make the right decision. We want to play POKER, damn the stakes.

What level to play is the hardest decision in poker. The two most common questions poker players ask me are "What is your Favorite Online Poker Room" and "What Levels do you like to play?" The answer to both questions is always, "I have no idea."


TripJax said...

That was a good post DuggleBogey. I'm in the process or evaluating my game and moving up in limits/buy-ins is on my list to adjust...

GaryC said...

Difficult subject to broach. I'm very protective of my "baby."(bankroll) It is obvious to me that the higher limits are really not that much different, as far as the level of play. Of course, I've only dipped my toe into the water a couple of times.

Having said all of that, a move upward in limits is on the horizon for me. I'm just not sure how far I want to jump. My bankroll would suggest 1/2, but that 2/4 game on Noble is awfully juicy.

Very good post, DuggleBogey.


Drizztdj said...

I'm sitting on $3000+ in Neteller and playing $1/$2 NL.

I don't know what stops me but something does.

Great post Duggle.