Trying to move up

As of this post I have about 4.5 million chips and this isn’t bad, I am ranked 5,000 out of a site with around 500,000 active players and I am still a relatively new player. But I can sort of feel like I am almost reaching my ceiling of stakes and bankroll if I continue to play my current strategy. I play 100/200 and 200/400 and 50k tournaments, while playing a 100k about once a week and sat to 250k to try to get my feet wet with high stakes.

While I am happy with how far I have come on this site in the past 9 months, I want to keep going and reach higher and higher stakes and higher levels of play and I feel like I am stuck where I am now. If I cannot increase my ROI and improve my skills, I think 50ks and 100ks are the maximum I can play, but I strive to play more and better games. What strategies do you suggest for my games?

I feel like I play pretty solid poker although I can’t know for sure. I don’t limp a whole lot unless others limp before me. I bluff, but not a lot, mainly I make small bets postflop when I am the preflop aggressor because they call less than the minimum defense frequency Ex if I bet 1/3 pot, they need to call 75% of their range which players do not do. I also sometimes go all-in with marginal hands when I am short or I bluff in the small blind when it folds to me. There are some other times I bluff, but only if I think it is right and I am not a maniac 999/1000 hands I play. What can I do to get better? What is a tactic that you guys use that you think most players do not? I recently got a new poker book acceling at tough no limit holdem games and after that I am going to read mastering small stakes no limit holdem. What advice do players like you guys have? I feel like I am missing something that some other players get. What is it? Maybe this is just how it is and getting a good bankroll is just a long grind. I am open to any/all advice.

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  1. tournaments on replay will never give you a huge bankroll. The stakes of tournaments are just so low, there a few 1m buy ins per day, so even if you were crushing the biggest tournaments here and playing 8 hours per day you would probably slowly drag yourself into the 10s of millions over several months. And they are high variance, so even 250k is big bankroll risk for 4.5m, so it would realistically take a while to build a bankroll of 100m.

In ring, even with good bankroll management (having at least 10+ max buy ins behind) you could go from 4.5m to 100m in a few weeks of playing regularly. In my first 3 years here I only played tourneys and played many hours per week and had 8.5m. In 3 years after switching to mostly ring I had a lot less time to play and went up to 1b (now 800m). You just can’t compare the potential winnings of a 5m buy in being the highest stakes tourney versus ring where you can have double that amount in the pot preflop (or even in “high stakes” not elite stakes you can win a 20m chip pot at 20k/40k).

So, if your goal is to build your bankroll, ring is the way to go. But, having fun or learning are other important goals, so if you are enjoying, winning, and practicing then you should keep doing what you’re doing.

Why is it that you feel like you’ve hit your ceiling? Are you on a long downswing? Poker has so much variance it can be hard to evaluate your actual win rate and whether you’re making optimal decisions.

  1. it’s good that you’re looking to improve (and the statements I made in point 1 are dependent on you having a strong win rate and edge at every level you play).

When I was first learning, the YouTube channel the poker bank has a lot of good content for beating low stakes (real money low stakes being roughly equivalent to high/elite here). Then Doug Polk’s channel helped me learn the next level beyond that (though I’m sure everyone knows Doug by now).

My advice for beating replay is to bet bigger and be mostly value oriented. You don’t need balanced ranges, bet sizing to protect your range, or worry about minimum defense frequencies at any level here unless you are heads up against one of the top 5 players. They are good concepts to know, but your opponents are not thinking about those things. You will profit by making them pay the maximum for hands that they won’t fold.

The corollary of that is that they also do not bluff correctly or frequently enough (if at all). If someone is betting or raising (unless they have shown themselves to be a maniac) you can usually believe them, so it is good to overfold unless you have nearly the nuts. It’s almost never necessary to bluff or to bluff catch.

That being said, you want to learn to be the best possible player and so exploiting fishy tendencies will only get you so far (something I’m trying to overcome now). So, you can still try to use some balance and make “realistic” plays closer to GTO but you’re generally sacrificing EV compared to just exploiting your opponents. At higher stakes you can also exploit your opponents’ tendency to overfold, which is also wise to do in the later stages of tourneys when people tighten up.

So, that’s my broad advice on how to keep progressing. A key point that helped me, which you may already know, is to think about most situations in terms of range versus range. Which boards hit which range, when your opponent has lots of hands to get value from, where your specific hand falls within your range, etc. Best of luck!


Hi JoeDirk, you give some great advice beginners can use to better their play here and in the real game. But one thing I do disagree is with your suggestion for a bankroll management of 20 buy ins as too conservative. Actually the recommended buy in for everyone should be 100 buy ins whether for MTT or cash games. The least should be 70 buy ins not 10. although there is a strategy to move up stakes which is to take shots. Have enough buy ins for your normal games and get 5 buy ins to take shots at bigger games and ran up your bankroll if possible. But don’t jeopardize your whole bankroll for 10 or 20 buy ins, that is one ticket to go broke.

Come to 50-100k hu, there will be easy money for you.

Btw: July 2019, you’re my grandfather <3

That’s a great idea @El-Jogador, I’d love to see you and @Punlsher play :slight_smile:

I think HU against @JoeDirk would be pretty exciting as well!

Just you wait though … one day I’m going to grow up and I’ll take you on lol


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The advice I’ve read is 20 buy ins for cash/ ring games, 40 for SnGs and 100 for mtts.

10 for ring is definitely aggressive, but losing 10 buy ins in a row on replay should be just about impossible if you’re playing ABC poker on replay.

We’ll see, maybe if Joe Dirk’s advice works I’ll get to those stakes in no time. After I read his post (probably luck but still funny) I won 700,00 chips immediatly, which is pretty good for where I am at. So you can enjoy destroying people in high stakes for now, but I am not someone in will back down to a dare so easily :slight_smile: Also, I guess I have been around longer, but I played like a donkey until April of 2020 where I was at 760 chips and then I finally decided to play normally and get some chips.

I think the higher up you go, your ROI gets smaller so you need a bigger bankroll because the variance is going to be worse. I think at my games 10-15 is just fine, but as I move up I will probably need more.

El-jog thinks I’m a fish because I stacked them on a very “questionable” semi bluff once (and he thinks everyone is a fish). I’d love to have the stack to play HU, but it’s tough to even have a positive win rate playing an hour per week, let alone accumulate another billion. I know it only took el-jog 5 minutes to get their first billion…

Also, in theory your ROI goes down as you move up but that may not be the case here. The game gets a little less wild which can enable you to exploit specific tendencies rather than have to hold the nuts. What’s your ROI? It’s tough to even track with what little info they give you. If you’re clearly winning at whatever stakes you play, I wouldn’t worry about moving up if you have the bankroll.

I’m not sure what my ROI is, but I’m guessing somewhere in the range of 10-20 BB per hour in 200-400, but its hard to know for sure because I haven’t put in tens of thousands of hands at the stake level and my ROI improves as I improve as a player.

This may help you find some answers - free 3 day pass to Poker Coaching. Its from Feb 26-28th and you will be able to go through any of the material on the site. Ranges, strategies, exploits and so on.

There are other resources I’ll try to provide links to as well but this just came up and I wanted to make sure you were able to take advantage of it if you wanted to.

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I was trying to point out that it is pretty impossible to know your ROI on replay. There’s no hud data obviously and activity data just disappears every few sessions. You can track your chip progression but not how many hands or how much time was involved (without a lot of additional work). That’s why it’s virtually meaningless to even report winrates, like I was winning 200 bb/100 over 35 hands or losing 100bbs/100 over 30 hands… Just as an aside, I find bb/100 hands easier to interpret than bb/hour because the rate of play varies by game type.

If you are consistently winning and making good decisions, then you can assume your ROI is good enough at that level and you can try higher levels as your bankroll grows. Keep learning and improving, and don’t be intimidated by the stakes here on replay. ABC poker is enough to win at the highest elite stakes tables, and even the players with the highest win rates (like CKE or gamer girl who maybe deleted her account) are not balanced and can be exploited with the right adjustments. There are no active players who you need to be gto to beat. Keep on grinding and studying.


Wow! Thank you so much! I always wanted poker coaching, but its too expensive to buy for free poker. I definitely want to use that thanks so much! Whered you find that? Thanks again!

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Fairly new to this poker site and I am trying to learn-- will you explain to me what a fish is and also what ROI stands for? -just reading through trying to understand…thanks in advance.

There are two kinds of incompetent poker player: fish and donkey.

Donkeys are more conspicuous than fish. Donkeys are idiotic aggressive players. They play every hand and bet every hand aggressively. Fish are quite different and you have to observe someone for a while before discovering that they are a fish. Fish, basically, never give up on a hand. They don’t fold.

A simple example of fish-play:

A player has pocket cards ace of diamonds and four of hearts. Unsuited ace and four is not among the worst hands, but it’s certainly not a good one. Fish players think ace and four is good, because of the ace. A few bets, a few raises take place, and fish calls, hoping that another ace will appear - which will give him a pair of aces and a low kicker, so still very much a foldable hand. He might also hope that the flop is all diamonds, because he has the ace of diamonds, but pinning your hopes on that is unwise and a player will waste a lot of chips if that way of thinking is repeated over and over. The community cards, meanwhile, are king of spades, 2 of spades, 5 of spades, 7 of spades, and ace of clubs - so the fish has his pair of aces and continues calling, but there’s an exceedingly high probability that another player has a flush, which the fish has overlooked. In that situation, a player without a flush can do one of two things: bluff (all in) or fold. Taking either one of those options would suggest an adequate level of competence. But calling with your pair of aces in that situation will reveal a player to be a fish.

Fish and donkeys are eliminated from tables very quickly. But they do win games sometimes, too, of course. Donkeys will, on occasion (as we all do) flop a monster. Fish, because they call everything, will sometimes catch out a bluffer. But neither fish nor donkeys are capable of earning sustainable profit in the long run and they are incapable of learning better ways to play.

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ROI, meanwhile, I assume means return on investment.

So, for example, you enter a table with 10,000 chips, win a few games, lose a few games, but exit the table with 12,000 chips, which is an ROI of 2,000 chips or 20%.

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I took my bankroll from less than ten million to over 100 million in a couple of months, but I was probably pretty lucky.

I think you must first specialize in one particular format, and then in one particular stakes level. Every tournament has its own rhythms and a lot depends on whether you are playing 6-max (my favorite) or 9-max, as it is a different game.

You have to be on top of every stage of a tournament, for example in a 6-max you are probably going to be playing 4 or 3 at a table before you get to the final table, so you have to know how to handle that specialist situation to be successful in 6-max tournaments.

I would recommend two things:

  1. really focus on your play, try to guess what hands players have before they show them, and develop your hand reading skills.

  2. absolutely memorize the material at this link, which examines every hand in Hold’em and points out its strengths, weaknesses and when it can be played. You do not have to follow this at all times, but at least you need to know the material.

Here is some sample text regarding Ace Ten suited:

…This really is just an ace rag hand disguised as something better, as evidenced by the narrow gap in win percentage between A 10 suited 16.60 percent and A 9 suited 14.60 percent. So consider folding it straight away from early position, while proceeding with prudent caution from middle and late position.


thanks, helps to learn those abbreviations