In another poker strategy tip article, I talked about how serious players should not be worried about stop limits. This is where you set an amount in which you will stop playing if you reach (for example – “if I can win $500, I’m done”). There is, however, a set of circumstances in which you should set a stop limit, even as a serious or professional player. This occurs when you are playing in a pot-limit or no-limit game.
Let’s say that your bankroll allows you to play in a $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em game where the buy-in is $100. You do not have enough that you feel comfortable playing in a $2/$4 game with a $200 minimum buy-in. In your game you are doing quite well, in fact you’ve turned your $100 buy-in into a $250 stack. The game is going well. You’re the best player at the table. You’re a serious player who knows that stop limits can restrict your potential. So you should play on, right? It depends. There is one important factor as to whether or not you should continue in this game; the stack size of the other players. Since your bankroll allows you to put $100 at risk, but not $200, you need to be aware of when you are putting $200 at risk in your $100 buy-in game. As soon as your stack size is double or more of the original buy-in AND someone else at the table has double or more of your original buy-in, you are putting too much at risk. Remember in No-Limit (and even pot-limit) your entire stack is at risk in any given hand. No matter how good of a player you are, you can lose a single hand. If you would not risk $200 in a game, don’t continue once your stack and someone else’s has reached that $200 mark. Of course, even if you build up to $500, but everyone else has around $100 or less, you should keep playing. The only portion of your stack at risk is the amount equal to the largest stack at the table besides your own. Once someone does reach the $200 mark, you should consider stopping. Playing poker is not playing a simple game. It requires effective and fresh strategies so you can beat your opponents.
Here’s another reason why to make this stop limit for yourself. Let’s say you build your $100 buy-in into a $500 stack and there are other players with large stacks as well. You may think, “I am still only risking $100 because that’s all I’ve invested”. Here’s the problem; you have pocket aces, and a player goes all in front of you for $500. You would have to be crazy to lay down AA here, so you call. Disaster strikes and you lose it all. Your opponent has now won $500 from you in one hand. Since you would buy back in for $100, you must win multiple large pots to make back what you lost and can lose again in one single hand. Your entire stack is at risk on every hand, while your opponent only risks a small portion of what he just won.
Remember, it’s not the fact that you are up a good amount of money; it’s the amount of risk you are now taking. Pay attention to these situations and take your big wins. You can always buy back into the game later for the $100 buy-in (most games will not allow you to take chips off the table and return with less until a certain amount of time (30 minutes – two hours) has passed).