February 16, 2011
I just want to say that when you're in the learning process, and/or trying to move up through stakes, you should not be afraid or ashamed of losing. I moved up to 50NL about 28,000 hands ago; I'm stuck about three and a half buy-ins over this sample ($172 or so), but closer to break-even with bonuses. It has been 100% worth it.
I was really surprised by the differences when I first moved up to this new level (previously blogged). I immediately noticed obvious places where my game needed short and long term adjustments, and I have been slowly adjusting. Initially afraid of losing funds quickly, I found before long that being forced to improve my game through experience was extremely rewarding. I would easily pay $172 again to learn this much (and bonuses are like getting a discount!). Admittedly, I spent a lot of time playing multiple tables (between 2 and 12) which doesn't lend itself well to learning, but I wanted to compare my play to what I was doing at 25NL. I'm now trying to cut the tables down so that I can perform better in-game analysis. I am sure my winrate could be higher if I played fewer tables. So, while I haven't stabilized into a steady trend at the new stakes, I've been able to hold my own and have not been afraid to get into pots and play. I could be showing a better win rate at 25NL, but my goal is to get better and move up, so that's what I'm doing.
One of my friends described a recent interest in buying back in to online poker, but said he was too bored at micro stakes to bother playing them. I countered with two arguments. First, you have to get a serious load of experience playing actual hands to improve your game, and associated losses are best sustained at lower stakes; second, games are tougher than you might think, so you should start out lower to establish yourself and prove you can sustain a bankroll at those stakes before moving higher. Too many stories have come around about friends who buy in for fun and immediately start playing games like 100NL etc, where they don't last long. For people who want to play short-term poker, it can be OK, but those people can't be bothered by notions of learning and moving up through the stakes, so the considerations of this article aren't for them.
What will you do?