One reason why I think there are so many fish in poker who lose their entire bankroll in a few weeks is because they don’t know how to determine the stakes they should be playing. They see headlines about people raking in over $100k in huge online tournaments, read a strategy book or two, and want to move up limits as quickly as possible.
Especially when they catch a rush they try and move up even faster than they should. Hell I’ve even done this once or twice. But I have a much better idea: figure out how much your bankroll is and use that to decide what stakes you can play. This logic even works for those of you who like to gamble at the best casino sites too. To get started, you need to find out what your expected winnings will be.
For convenience sake, let’s use sit and go’s as a measuring stick for expected winnings. Let’s also say that you play $1 SNG’s and expect to cash in 4 out of every 10 SNG’s you play. Assuming this was the case you’d be doing pretty good, and can pat yourself on the back for cashing in 40% of your SNG’s.
We’re not finished yet though because you also need to factor payouts into the equation. So for $1 + $0.20 SNG’s, you’d be hauling in around $13-$15 if you cashed in 4 out of every 10 sit and go’s (depending on placing). Considering that you’d be spending a total of $12 in buy-in fees for the 10 tournaments, you would be beating these limits and might want to consider moving up.
I personally like to play multi-table tournaments so my calculations might not work out so nice and neatly when deciding on a limit. And bankroll factors in a lot more with MTT’s since you’ll go on more cold streaks. But after playing in enough tournaments prior to my $1 to $1,000 bankroll challenge, I know that I can afford to play $1 and $2 buy-in tournaments anytime while throwing the occasional $10 tourney into the mix (provided it’s not taking more than 5% of my bankroll).
The key is to play enough tourneys so that you have a good range to work with – maybe like 100 or so. Once you know your profitability at a certain limit, you can decide if it’s wise to continue playing at those stakes.
Now once you figure out what you feel comfortable with THEN you can start looking at the hands you play.