If you play a lot of online poker at micro-stakes levels, you’ll likely see the same old faces time and time again. There are many possible reasons why these grinders are still stuck at that level, which we’ll be discussing in this article. Hopefully, with our tips for moving up through the stakes, you’ll avoid the same pitfalls.

It isn’t always easy to move up from micro-stakes poker games.

Bankroll Considerations

The number one reason why players struggle to break out of micro stakes is due to their bankrolls. There are several factors in play here, the first of which is rake. The average poker site is taking 10 Big Blinds per 100 hands at the smallest stakes, which is a considerable cut. 

Obviously, even if you’re picking up a fairly solid 12BBs per 100 in profit, you’re not making much profit in practice. Therefore, when you see those same old players, it’s not necessarily that they can’t beat the game. It’s often the rake they struggle with. 

To have any chance of progressing at all, you need to find a rakeback deal. And the good news is that, when you do eventually break out, you’ll notice that the rake has a much smaller impact at the mid-stakes games. You’ll find it’s more like 4 or 5BBs per 100.

Avoid Cashing Out

Another problem is cashing out too often. Even if you only make 2BBs per 100 after rake and everything else, that means a profit of 100BBs every 5,000. That’s a full buy-in. And if you can churn out 25,000 to 50,000 hands per month, you’re looking at 5-10 buy-ins each month.

You don’t need to be a genius player to reach these fairly modest levels. So why aren’t people soaring up through the ranks all the time? Because they’re constantly chipping away at their bankrolls instead of letting it grow. You need to keep that money separate from everyday life. Consider it as an investment for your future poker game. 

What Is a Good Size Bankroll to Break Out from Micro Stakes?

You’ve probably heard figures like 600BB being perfectly adequate for micro stakes games. That seems fair, but when you climb the ladder, there’s more to think about. 

Volatility is an important factor, for one. Compare an extremely tight $5/$10 game to a completely wild $2/$5 table where everyone is shoving often. In truth, the required bankroll is likely similar for both games. Don’t forget that, as the numbers increase, it becomes harder to rebuild the bankroll if it gets wiped out. 

Sure, you can probably pull together a couple of hundred bucks if you don’t slip up at micro stakes. But how long will it take to rebuild the thousands of dollars if you move up too soon? With that in mind, you shouldn’t treat it as a linear scale. Look to increase the number of BBs required to jump up each level.

The Importance of Study

Another reason many players fail to move up the stakes is simply down to confidence. If you constantly tell yourself that you’ll fail, the chances are that you will. You need to believe in yourself and trust the process. You’ll have a much easier time doing that if you continually review your game and study the right strategies to improve.

Poker players at all levels should always be analyzing their game, looking for leaks, and plugging knowledge gaps. But it’s just as important to study your opposition. Ideally, you’ll want at least 1,000 hands worth of information on a player before forming a solid opinion on their tendencies. And when you do, you can look to exploit their weaknesses. 

Take It Slow

If you’re thinking of jumping up a level, take the time to look out for familiar names first. If there are players you already recognize as being soft, try to start in these games to ease yourself in. But if you don’t have sufficient data on the players at the level above, start slowly. You don’t have to move up full time if you’re not comfortable. 

Take a stab at the higher stakes game one day and return the next. Slowly work towards building up your database on your new opponents until it’s of sufficient size for you to learn their tendencies. Don’t be afraid to drop straight back down if it looks like it’s not working. Regain confidence by reverting to a level that you know you can beat. It’s not a race, after all. 

The Mental Game

No matter what stakes you play, you must constantly look to improve your mental approach. The variance experienced in poker is extremely stressful, and the higher the climb, the harder it gets. While it’s easy to talk about viewing your bankroll as an investment, it’s harder to put into practice.

Establishing a routine is one thing that can help your mental state before and after a session of poker. Everyone is different of course, but perhaps exercise, meditation, or reading a book before playing can help. Make sure your phone is switched off to minimize distractions and look after yourself by eating well and drinking plenty of water. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t drink alcohol while playing.


It can be really difficult to break out of micro stakes games. But it is possible, with strict bankroll management and hard work. Look after your body and mind, study hard, and believe in yourself.

Now that you are ready to break out of micro-stakes games, why not sign up for a free account with Natural8 today and put everything you have learned to use?

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