Holding Onto Your Profit

Most people only think of poker success in terms of how much they've won or lost. Another way to judge success is by how much of your profit you've managed to keep. I've often seen players build up a great bankroll and then advance to a higher level only to lose any profit they made.

A great example of this, is when my friend and I set a goal to each make $100,000 by the end of the summer. We might have done it had we followed our original plan to mercilessly attack the $3/$6 tables to make half of our roll there before moving up to the $5/$10 games and then to the $10/$20 games, to finish our run after reaching $75,000. Instead, we jumped the gun and moved directly to the $10/$20 games. We thought wrong - I went bust, and the next day, he did too.

When you make a drastic jump like that and are playing above your limits, that's when poker turns into gambling. You won't have the bankroll to outlast the bad hands and losing streaks nor will you live to see the good hands come around. It then becomes about luck and hoping you get that one good hand that will win big before you run out of money. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to be successful playing poker this way.

By playing at the levels that you are most comfortable with, you take the gamble out of poker and increase your chances of holding onto your profit. Ultimately, you remove some of the luck factor from the game and play at a level your bankroll can handle. Doing this will also help you relax and not worry about whether the next hand will make or break you, thus playing your best game.

Eventually you can look at moving up to the next level. The best strategy is to play at your current level until you've been dominating it for months and have built up a good bankroll, and then step up to the next level. Keep in mind, that while the returns are higher at the next level, the competition is also quite a bit better. You have to be sure your bankroll is big enough to handle the move so you can be totally focused on the quality of your game and not the money.

If you're not patient enough to do that, there's only one way to jump to a higher limit and possibly beat it. You have to hit-and-run the table. Basically, you'll take a $500 shot at $5/$10, and when you double up, immediately get off the table no matter how good it is.

The problem most people have, myself included, is that once they've made a little money they refuse to leave the table. I've done this many times and almost always go on to lose any money I have made. If you lose your buy-in, you must step down a limit and play where you usually play.

I've seen too many people lose it all by taking a huge shot at the big time. I want you to understand that playing winning poker will turn into gambling every time you step up a limit without the necessary bankroll. Take my advice to heart and continue playing a solid poker game at a comfortable level. You won't regret it.

See you at the tables.

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