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This is a very pertinent question; one to take in all seriousness.  Thus, we can say that the matter of moving to higher stakes is a lot more complicated than as one wag put it, “You’re ready to move to higher stakes when you stop checking the rake schedule all the time”!

You Need a Solid Grounding in Poker Math

At Juicy Stakes Poker, we come into contact with a lot of players.  Many players never master even the basics of poker math.  The fact is that every average player can learn enough poker math to use it in a game.  Good poker players are constantly calculating things like EV (expected value) pot odds, their own outs and the odds of getting one and their opponents’ outs and the odds that the opponents might hit an out, and other aspects of poker math.

If you are paying attention to every hand, especially those hands that you are no longer in, then you might have enough of a grasp of poker math to move to higher stakes.

But poker math is not enough.

You Need a Better Attention Span

You need to find many aspects of poker that you can pay attention to so that your attention span grows.  Good poker players have a very flexible attention span.  If they are in a tournament where they need to be alert for hours, they have long since trained themselves to be alert for hours.

When we say “be alert” we mean maintaining an analytical edge on every hand.

It is not so simple to develop a solid attention span.  One of the mistakes many poker players make is that they try to “take in everything”.  In fact, we also tell players to watch every hand closely.  The advice to watch every hand is sound and the advice to take everything in is also sound.

What we need to do is to rephrase the advice about watching every hand and taking in everything to include “within reason”.  Many poker players try to take in so much, looking intently at every nuance of every player that they are actually able to process very little of what they see.

Looking and seeing are not the same!  Similarly, hearing and listening are not the same.  We need to see and take in everything but we also have to stay within reason.

You are ready to move to higher stakes games when your efforts to see and take everything in becomes natural and the “within reason” side of it has expanded to include many things that you didn’t see or absorb when you started playing poker online.

Stay Healthy

You might be ready to move up to higher stakes poker if you know poker math pretty well and if you are able to pay attention for longer periods of time and at greater depth than when you started out.

Still, one of the least appreciated parameters surrounding players’ ability to move to higher stakes is general and overall health!

Let’s divide health into a few categories:

  1. Exercise.
  2. Eating properly.
  3. Drinking alcohol only n moderation.
  4. Sleeping soundly and well.
  5. Intermittent fasting.

Say, what?

Let’s take a look.

Exercise Generates Heat, Blood Circulation, and Wellness

We are not advocating for any single method of exercise.  The internet is full of channels that give their own insights into exercise.  The point is that in the modern world, many people lead sedentary lifestyles.

Anyone who is prepared to play enough poker at low stakes to move up to higher stakes is going to be leading a very sedentary lifestyle.

Exercise might include walking, jogging, spinning, resistance training, swimming, hiking, bicycling, and more.  All are fine if you enjoy them.  We would just advise everyone to start slowly.

One exercise that we feel is so subtle as to not exactly qualify as an exercise and yet it does help overall health, concentration, sleep and more.  This exercise is called Standing Like a Tree or Zhan Zhuang.  In the interest of starting slowly, Zhan Zhuang is a great exercise of sorts.

Most people can’t do the most basic Zhan Zhuang pose for even five minutes at the outset even though it involves just standing!

Proper Eating Generates Long Lasting Energy

Once again, there are quite a few different “eating programs”.  Surely, one will work for you.  The key is that proper eating should make you stronger.  A lot of people in our fast food culture actually often feel tired and sluggish and bloated after eating.

At a land based casino, the buffet may be the worst place to eat!

Alcohol in Moderation

Almost everyone who does not have a general health issue with alcohol enjoys drinking.  Alcohol, even in mild form as with beer and wine, is an acquired taste but once acquired we love it.

Our advice is to cut down if you know that you drink too much.  We further advise players to never drink alcohol while playing poker!  Alcohol decreases everyone’s ability to process incoming information.  It leads to costly mistakes.  There will be plenty of time to drink after the playing is done.

Get Plenty of Sleep

We know that our body regenerates itself while we sleep.  Sleep has so many salutary effects on our body and mind that it is amazing how few people do not get enough good sleep.  In short, if you learn how to get the most benefit from your sleep, you will automatically have an advantage over other players!

Intermittent Fasting

This is possibly the most popular fad in modern societies.  The idea is simply that we eat too much, we eat too often, we eat too many of the less healthy foods, we have problems inside our bodies that we can’t see any hint of from the outside, and that eating and snacking throughout the day is a totally unnatural way to eat!

Intermittent fasting takes the will power out of the “eat less” equation.  If you are in generally good health a regimen of 16 fasting hours every day and an 8-hour eating window is probably all you need to lose a few pounds and feel a lot better.

The more overweight you are, the more intermittent fasting is said to be beneficial.

As with all of these medical and scientific areas, we aren’t advocating as much as telling you what we have seen has helped players become better poker players!

Be Sure that You Can Afford to Play at Higher Stakes

This one is the most obvious of all.  We always tell the players at Juicy Stakes that you should never play at a stakes level above your comfort zone.  Exercising a little beyond your comfort zone may be beneficial.  Standing like a tree beyond your comfort zone is also beneficial for most people.

Playing beyond your comfort zone financially will lead to a reversal of all of the good things you have done to get to this point.  The pressure builds up and players fall ill after even a short time.

For many players, the pressure of playing at a stakes level beyond their comfort zone is damaging even if they start out by winning money!


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