Poker Tips by George: Buy-in Is Important

By George Epstein
April 20, 2021

My favorite poker game is $4-$8 limit Texas Hold’em. The casino has a minimum buy-in of $40, which is 10 times the lower limit. Most recreational players buy in for that amount or a bit more. Personally, over the years, I have increased my buy-in to $100 – a full rack of chips. But now, I am considering upping it to two full racks – $200. Let me explain why.

money fan

The amount of your buy-in is important – perhaps much more than you realize. First of all, your opponents tend to judge your poker expertise by how many and how high the stacks and racks of chips in front of you are. The bigger your chip count, the more respect the other players will tend to have for you – and the more they fear you. Needless to say, that gives you a decided edge (much like using the best high risk merchant processor). It gives you more control of the game. You will have a much better chance of making your bluffs and semi-bluffs. And your deceptive actions are more likely to bear fruit. Slow-playing, trapping, and check-raising will help you build the pot when you catch a monster hand (preferably, the nuts).

Being realistic

With eight opponents at the table, chances are it will take you several hands or more before you finally win a pot after sitting down to begin your session. The odds are against you, so waiting for a decent starting hand is a good idea. In fact, it is essential to winning; remember this is LIMIT Hold’em! On average, highly skilled players will muck about 75 percent of the hands dealt to them before the flop.

But, meanwhile, you still must pay your share of the cost-to-play. And then there is the likelihood that you will have a decent hand but end up second-best. It happens to the best of players.

If you buy-in for the minimum, before you realize it you will need to replenish your stack. That can happen several times before the poker gods smile down on you, and you start to win some hands. What do those re-buys tell your opponents? How will they react to your subsequent bets and raises after you have just shelled out more cash for another buy-in? Naturally, they have less respect for you; they fear you less. In their minds, you are a loser. That will make it all the harder to pull off a bluff or semi-bluff.

And how about your own mental and emotional response when you find yourself low in chips? How do you feel when you see the player to your left scoop in pot after pot? You watch his stacks grow taller while yours get smaller. Frustrating, right? How does this affect your thinking and actions? Will you be able to exercise tilt control?

Certainly, your self-confidence will be down in the dumps. This is bound to detract from your ability to make wise decisions. You win less often. Your opponents now regard you as a poker pigeon – a loser. They look forward to taking even more of your chips.

Time to increase your buy-in

Well, by now you can probably guess what my advice will be. There is one good way to avoid the aforementioned occurrences. Are you ready to increase your buy-in to that game? Instead of that minimum buy-in of $40, come to the casino planning to start out with four times as much – or more. Instead of being the player with the fewest chips in front of him, plan to start with more than anyone else. If you cannot afford it, don’t play.

You’ll likely see that most, if not all, the aforementioned issues “magically” disappear. In short, having a good amount of starting chips in front of you makes it somewhat more likely that you’ll more easily be able to add to that stack over the course of your session.

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Written By.

George Epstein

After a long and productive career as a leader in the aerospace industry, upon his retirement in the 1990s, George Epstein chose poker as his “second career.” George has been widely recognized for his many significant accomplishments and contributions to our society. These include pioneering and innovations in various materials, testing and manufacturing technologies for […]

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