Will we always get beat down at higher stakes, or is there some kind of shield for us to use?

We asked cash game players to share their wisdom and advice to help you prepare for the pain that comes with trying to climb higher. We found out how many buy-ins are required for a full shot and how many attempts it takes to gain a foothold at a new stakes. We also tried to understand whether it is possible to avoid the "curse of the upper stakes" or whether it inevitably haunts everyone.

### Sergey Radeo // Poker saved my life!

I would divide the shots by stakes – up to NL200 and after.

For stakes up to NL200, I would shoot aggressively, especially up to NL50-NL100. If there were already unsuccessful attempts to consolidate, then at NL50 I would sit with 20 BI and a stop-loss of 2-3 BI. A microscopic stop-loss is better than continuing to pay an incredible rake.

Our goal up to NL50 is to break out of the micro-stakes mine at any cost, again because of the rake. I would try to play the way I can, without thinking about what kind of opponents there are and that I should act in some special way. I just sit down and play; if it doesn't work out, no big deal, we'll go down.

You won't enter new stakes without an upstreak. When you've shot the stakes several times with a small stop-loss, you come back more confident with each entry. The brain begins to realize that there are also fish/VIPs/half of the regs from your limit, and that you can also make money – you just need to get into the right variance.

Before the shot, it seems that each new stake consists exclusively of opponents with an IQ of 200, nothing else. I don't have any preparation for shots; you just wake up in the morning and realize – IT'S TIME. It's time to get a dose of pain.

• Most Memorable Shot

The hardest thing for me was the transition to NL50 – to gain a foothold, it took 5-6 shots with constant shortfalls and moves. I also moved from NL20, that is, I began to play 2.5 times more expensive. In fact, this affects more than it seems – you lose 4 BI of the upper stakes, and this is already 10 BI of your limit, not 8.

• Percentage of Successful Shots

I think the percentage of successful shots tends to zero. A shot is a preparation for pain, plus no one has canceled the curse of the upper stakes. Getting hit in the head with a shovel during a test of the upper limit is a must in poker. Well, you can't just take a new stake level by storm – so that everything immediately works out there, and they deal well. Does anyone even know such regulars!? [Ed. – such will be below]

But seriously, I just wasn't very lucky. I spent several painful shots at each limit, starting from NL10, and I began playing at NL5. Those were the times.

• Above NL200

At NL200+ stakes, a shot no longer represents a full-fledged load of the new stakes. Unfortunately, at NL200-NL500 and higher, finding even 4-6 tables of the same limit is not an easy task, especially since we choose tables with a good amateur for a shot. We will leave the upper limit shots in the regocatka to Sandrix, while mere mortals need to select very carefully and, of course, sit down under a good fish.

At high stakes, a shot is no longer something separate from a regular session. You just play working stakes, see a fish at a higher stakes, evaluate your form and condition, and jump. With God! The romance of familiar shots passes, but the "curse of the upper limit" never passes.

### Ilya KARACHEVSKII // Ego is a minor

In my opinion, all shots should be divided into those where regular play is going on and those where it is not. Above NL500, unfortunately, there is practically no regular play now. Only GG and prime time on Chico, regwars on ACR – this is the way of Sandrix, but not the average reg.

• Bankroll Management

At regular stakes, the goal is to consolidate as quickly as possible, which means you need to have a reserve of buy-ins that will help you hold out when you hit the worst round of dispersion. I don't think I've had any drawdowns greater than 30 BI, despite the fact that my win rate at mid-stakes is mediocre, so for a confident assault I would take 60 BI of the upper limit.

Those who like to rush underestimate the loss of EV in case of failure to consolidate. I advise such people to use a calculator of financial life scenarios. There is no point in getting a foothold at stakes above NL1k, it is enough to have 40 BI and bumhunt wisely with a sober assessment of your strength.

It is necessary to understand that, for example, the dispersion at NL5k with a fish in effective stacks of 50 bb is lower than in a regular regwar at NL2k. I have no fear of money in shots, because in China I played up to NL40k in crazy deeps, where, among other things, I lost huge amounts of money. After that, even NL10k under the fish does not cause much adrenaline, except that the concentration on each hand increases greatly due to the very high \$ / hour, but at the same time, most likely, attention to cheaper regular tables decreases.

• Preparation

If we are talking about regwar, and I know who I will play with, then I will prepare exploits and watch how they work. Otherwise, nothing, now the line between NL1k-NL5k is completely erased, literally the same people are sitting. All we can control is to play as best as possible every hand.

Of the memorable forays into the upper limits, this hand comes to mind. The first thing I thought about was that I was \$300 short because I didn't add 1.5 bb before the hand.

• Ratio of Successful and Unsuccessful Shots

I always consolidated. Once I had to go down from NL100-200 to NL50, I withdrew a lot then and got into a long streak. Last year I removed the reqwars on NL2k, but I was an outright gambling addict there. Now I just select NL2k-NL5k and try to keep the lobby on the most profitable tables.

### Ivan A_NAVI40K_K // A_NAVI40K_K – road to PokerPro or thereabouts :)

It all depends on what a shot means. If I'm focusing specifically on a new stakes (so that the main part of the monitor is taken up by these tables), then I usually allocate 5-10 BI. But there are forays under a good amateur, for which I can allocate 2-3 BI.

• Money Pressure

Basically, having a strong bankroll (70-100 BI of the working stakes) helps to fight the pressure of money. When you have a decent reserve behind you, then the excitement is much less. However, it is not possible to completely eliminate it, because the stakes for shots are 2-2.5 times higher than usual.

I believe that you can only get used to this over time, having played a distance at the new stakes. Although, I heard that there is a Trueteller tactic with a shot of stakes even higher than the one we want to gain a foothold on, but how effective this method is – I can't say yet, I haven't tried it yet.

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• Preparing for a Shot

I probably won't do anything special. I'll do the usual preparation: 10-20 minutes to analyze the hands and voice the goal for the session in my head, what I should pay special attention to. If I feel a lack of concentration, I'll do a 5-10-minute meditation, pour a glass of water so that it's at hand, and get to work.

The last foray into the new stakes was completely spontaneous. I saw an amateur at NL200, was able to sit on him in a pose and off we went. The regs are practically the same as at NL100. And this happened a couple of times – the first time I lost one and a half buy-ins, the second time I won half a buy-in. In the end I realized that it was still too expensive for me, I was holding back.

• Most Memorable Shot

Oddly enough, I remember how I conquered NL25 on Chico from December 2022 to February 2023. After NL10, the stakes were 2.5 times higher, so expensive! It became much more difficult to find fish, regs seemed like killing machines, at first I played very carefully. When I put my stack on the table, my heart started pounding wildly (although this is not uncommon in expensive spots even now).

As a result, everything resulted in a huge shortfall (35-40 BI, my biggest shortfall in my career). Then the rake was increased on Chico, this was the last straw for me, and I decided to try my luck with mobile apps. Chico's NL10-25 shortage...

• Percentage of Successful Shots

It happened differently. It took me about 4-6 attempts to get a NL10 shot in Eurorooms, and I was able to get a foothold on NL40-60 in apps from the first try. However, it took me 3-4 attempts to get to NL100. It turns out that on average I need about 3.5 attempts per stake level.

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### gamz11 // game of nits

I cope with money pressure quite well – I played NL600 a bit, though a long time ago. It's quite easy to overcome it – you play a few thousand hands at higher stakes, and the money pressure disappears. Perhaps the new option will help you – withdraw stacks at the table in big blinds.

The worst pain when you go to higher stakes is to put in 10 BI and understand that it will take forever to get them back at the working limit. And it often happens, at least for me, that after an unsuccessful shot, even at the working limit, the run starts to feel so-so.

• Preparation

Previously, I would just sit down to play the upper stakes. Then there was a period when I sat in the simulator in the Wizard before the rink. Now I just sit down to play the working limit without preliminary preparation, play carefully for half an hour, get into the swing of things and start adding upper limit tables.

I realized that this is a working method for me, I spied it on Madhouse in Telegram. This applies not only to shots, but also to regular sessions – to get into the game through the game itself, and not through near-poker moments. You just need to play more reliably at the beginning of the session and gradually accelerate.

• Most Memorable Shot

I remember playing NL50 CAPs, went to shoot NL100, it seemed that everyone was outplaying me, everyone was loose. There was one opponent, 0limpia, it seemed like a beast, but then it turned out that he was the main nit of the limit.

This has always happened to me, it seemed that at a higher stakes the opponents were much stronger and it was unclear how to win at all. Now I seem to evaluate everything adequately, at a higher limit the level of regs is stronger, but not that critical, over time everything levels out or you go back. There is also an option to connect a new room, leave a bankroll there and go lower (the last experience of my walks through the limits).

• Percentage of Successful Shots

My shots were always through pain, I was constantly getting into reggae, doing unnecessary crap, putting in 10 BI per session. I am a very bad example. It used to be a total nightmare, I was getting into games that I didn't beat.

Now I've completely switched to bumhunting, and, lo and behold, the 10 BI drops suddenly disappeared both at the working limit and at the limit I shoot.

• Perfect Shot

This is when you know how to bring yourself to A-game by the time you have the main part of the game. Choose the best compositions to minimize the chance of a drawdown and increase the chance of gaining a foothold. Or bankroll management, like Nicedaybro and Supermegopro in several hundred buy-ins.

### Artem pasha_shalnaya // Playing Cards for Real Money

I think 8-10 BI is enough for a shot. I try to move to a new stake only if the money I lost won't affect me in any way. Shots are random, you need to catch an upstreak at the right time, feel confident in your abilities and gain a foothold. Once I shot NL1k for a year and lost there in one go. It was very annoying, but over time I got used to it, and everything became ok.

### Roma edRock // t.me/Very Excellent Diary

It all started with 200 BI. I imagined that 200 BI (or even better, 400) would liberate my game. And let's turn to the classics. How much bankroll did they recommend? 400? Sandrix had a drawdown of 150 BI only at NL100-NL200 (and even more above that). Supermegopro refuses to play if he can't afford a minus push preflop or repeat the flop 400 times in a row (truly, a great empiricist!).

• Shots

Let's imagine that I have 20 BI of limit X and I went to shoot this limit. What should happen there for me to consider this shot successful? Do I have to win 180 BI in three days?

• Preparation

Normal pre-war me, even if I shoot a stake lower than I played before (and this happened to me often), before any session I studied preflop and ran (sometimes even at the same time). Now I don't believe in these rituals (but I should).

• Most Memorable Shot

I shot NL200 (Phil Ivey, move over twice, as Big Gogi would say, you could talk now) Stars in Budapest in 2018, playing on a 42" TV (full HD). Immediately updated my worst day. I remember that I lost a stack to Madhouse (I bet three pots into his set in a 3-bet pot) and gained the an enemy – a Hungarian fish (I don't remember his nickname, but everyone definitely played with him): I donated about 800 bb to him then. And in my subjective top of the worst poker days, in terms of experiences, it would not even enter the top 100. On the contrary, I was happy with the new achievement.

I can't say that the other shots were so successful. Fortunately, the unconscious repressed them, and I don't remember anything about them.

• Percentage of Successful Shots

When I shoot for higher stakes, I usually fly away for 7 BI in 800 hands and at the same time offline there are expenses for several more BI. Even if it is an old new limit. This was the case with absolutely all stakes.

It seems that the probability of a successful shot for me is about 5%. And these weren't even shots – the money just ran out (not that this is rare in forced emigration). And, thus, I automatically became a shotter at the stakes at which I rolled a million hands in the plus. At the same time, I have never rolled and did not even take backing, which means there were still a lot of successful shots. And therefore, most likely, my assessment of the percentage of successful shots is nothing more than a lie.