News: Poker Basics – Shot Taking

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When should you take a shot at a bigger game and what rules should you have in place to avoid potential problems?

Have a budget to take a shot and don’t go beyond it

Most poker players agree that a good bankroll management strategy is key to surviving in poker. Yet a lot of them will admit to ‘taking shots at bigger games’. Are these two ideas at odds with one another?

Shot taking sounds like reckless gambling when you have heard of bankroll management, but it can be a genuinely profitable and safe strategy if you do it with discipline. 

Proper shot taking is not about playing outside of your bankroll without thinking about it, there are some rules that make it a viable strategy. 

Have a gameplan for when it goes wrong

Most players at the WSOP are taking a shot

First of all, you should not be taking shots as a way of chasing losses. In fact, you should only take shots at bigger games when you have been winning for an extended period of time. When done properly, shot taking is something you should do as part of a plan to move up stakes, when you are ready. 

Shot taking should only happen when you have identified a profitable game to take a shot at, or at least a game where you feel ready to challenge yourself. You have to have a reason beyond ‘wanting to play higher’, otherwise it will be hard to justify it to yourself if you lose.

You should have a stop loss or a budget for the shot, which you do not go below. You need a game plan essentially for what happens when you lose. Most important of all, you should be fully prepared to move back down in stakes and grind again when it doesn’t go well. It might also make sense to get staked for a shot at a bigger game. 

The point of bankroll management is to reduce risk of ruin, ie. the chance of you going broke. Shot taking seems counter intuitive with that in mind, but only if you stay playing the higher stake. If instead you allocate, say, 10% of your bankroll for the shot take and return to your regular stakes, only taking another shot once you have recouped the losses, then in theory you should not go broke taking an occasional, well planned, shot. 

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