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Topping up

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  • Topping up

    Topping up in cash games is a much debated subject. Should you top up to the maximum buy-in? Why? And how often? What are the advantages and disadvantages? Just for reference: topping up in a cash game is the practice of putting more money on the table once you take a few hits to your stack.

    Frankly, I haven't a clue. I just don't. Why not you ask? Good question...

    Doing a little research makes it clear: you should always top up to the full buy-in if you drop more than, say, 5-10% of that stack. I usually see only the one reason given: you want to be able to get max value for a monster if you do happen to get all-in. The only downside I can find is the risk of losing a whole lotta chips should you happen to enter tilt-city.

    Well, once I lose a number of chips, my mindset is that of a losing player. That to me means topping up endangers more of my bankroll. Without topping up, I lose the one buy-in and that's it. Also, I like the idea of fighting back to a starting stack. To see your stack go ove the original buy-in after a deficit gives me a great feeling. Today I lost almost half my buy-in within the first 15 minutes of play. For another hour I hovered between half a buy-in and a full stack. I was pretty much card dead, and everytime I did pick up a hand it got folded around. Of th pots I played I missed the flop on all but one hand.

    But I exercised a lesson learned last week, the lesson of patience. Sooner or later I should actually get a hand good enough to win a decent pot with. And sure enough, finally I got pocket Queens and not everyone folded. In fact, the UTG player raised to 4 x. So there I sat pondering what to do. Raise to 12 x or so and putting in a quarter of my remaining stack, or just shove it. I could of course raise a bit bigger than 12 x so that I'd actually have a pot-sized bet left and then shove the flop.

    In the end I decided to shove right here for simple reasons. First, I didn't wanna run the risk of the flop coming Ace high and the other guy donk-shoving into me. Then what do you do with your Queens... Second, I didn't want to run the risk of the flop scaring him away and folding to my flop shove. This was my one chance to get back to a starting stack after all. And third, the guy had me covered by a whole lot, and I felt he actually had a decent hand possible of calling a short-stack shove. And he did. The flop indeed came Ace high, but fortunately the guy didn't have the AK, just a pair of 7. And so I got back to my original starting stack. Plus the blinds. Now had I topped up, I would have had double the stack I'd had now. That would have been way too big to shove, so I'd have made a normal raise, got scared out of my its my the Ace on the flop, and I might likely have lost the hand. By not topping up, I had a shovable stack that actually had a decent hance of being called by worse (AK, AQ, any pocket pair). An hour and a half of play and I was up by a whopping 10 Big Blinds. Not a huge profit, but considering I was down 50 Big blinds for over an hour, it's still satisfying to finish the session in the black.

    But what it comes down to ... is such a story enough to make a final decision on topping up? Probably not since it's just the one example. This blog certainly won't end any discussion on topping up, least of all for me. I just know that for the time being, I'll stick to the status quo of not topping up. Unless of course there's a whole lot of people coming up with more reasons to start doing it except the one already mentioned...

    The Road to Fame and Fortune - Keeping track of my poker semi-career
    Keep up to date: @Ov3rsight


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