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Moving up in poker limits

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A good poker player always needs to know when it is time to change gears. Whether it is tight, aggressive, passive, loose, lots of bluffs, or none at all. If you always play in the same gear - that is, at the same betting pace - you'll probably be a losing player, unless you're running with a weak crowd (which of course is the best kind of crowd to run with, but that's a story for another day).

Most experienced players recognize this, and as such, they don't always play at the same speed. Sometimes they change speeds by design, and sometimes life just helps them out. An example would be a cash shortage slowing an action player down, or a tight player that maybe has had a little too much to drink.

It's much better to change by design than by accident; sometimes those accidents help your game, but usually if you haven't shifted gears by design, that grinding sound you hear will be your bankroll burning up.

There's another kind of gearshift that many players face, and often they're not adept at it. This shift comes when you change limits. For example, if a 5-10 player jumps into a 15-30 game, he is going to find that the game plays much differently. Mostly because there will be much more raising going on, and on average, fewer players see the flop. This happens because 15-30 is where the level changes and you’ll find more pros at the table. Not the whole table, but almost certainly some of them play for a living.

You can have problems going in either direction. The 5-10 player trying to play 15-30 will probably be a bit intimidated by the amount of money at risk. If the 5-10 player usually plays far too many hands, that intimidation isn't necessarily a bad thing: it might help him to play better. In general, though, if you're playing scared, you're not going to play well - this means extracting the most out of your good hands by betting and raising. Also, when you are playing scared, you are more easily bluffed out of pots.

The 15-30 player who drops down a limit to 5-10 will also have problems. Usually the biggest problem is that he won't respect the value of the chips. He's used to the $15 bets, and the smaller ones won't seem to matter as much. At the same time, he probably won't respect the opposition, assuming that the players in the 5-10 game won't be as good as those he's used to facing in 15-30.

As a result, the 15-30 player who moves down will probably play too many pots, and probably overvalue hands - like A-K off suit - that win a lot of money against two or three opponents in the bigger game, but tend to run into trouble against five or six opponents in the smaller game. To make matters worse, when the 15-30 player gets his A-K off suit knocked off by someone playing 2-5 off suit in early position, he's much more vulnerable to going on tilt and treating his chips with even less respect, often times trying to bully a table full of people that are new to the game.

Moral of the story: be very careful about switching limits. Sometimes financial concerns or game availability will force you to switch when you'd rather not. To do so successfully, you need not only to understand that the styles of play are probably going to be different at the new limit, but also to understand your own emotional make-up. You'll need to sit down and have a conversation with yourself, before you start, about what's likely to be different in your new game, and what you plan to do about it. Once you're in the middle of a hand, it's too late.

It is much easier to adapt to different limits if you have a front row seat without jeopardizing your chip stacks. Join Titan Poker now and grab the opportunity to play in free roll tournaments*, receive deposit bonuses, and watch the play in different limits before you decide to jump into the action.

*$20 deposit required.


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