Buying in for Max at Lower Stakes VS Buying in Mid/Short Stacked at Higher Stakes?



Jun 8, 2021
Total posts
For example: imagine you had a bankroll of $600 and you wanted to stick to the 30x buy in for cash games bankroll management rule.

($600 ➗ 30 = $20 Max Buy in for Your Bankroll)

Considering this, you have two options:

Option #1: Buy in for max (100 BB) at a lower stakes game ($0.10/$0.20)


Option #2: Buy in shortstacked (40 BB) at a higher stakes game ($0.25/$0.50)

Which do you prefer and which do you think is more profitable?
Last edited:


May 2, 2019
Total posts
It depends on the objectives you have regarding cash games. If you want to have fun and experience other levels of play, you can shoot towards medium stakes with minimal buy-in.
But if you really want to make money and play with more support or seriousness, with 600 dollars I would remain between 16 and 25NL, but with more volume in the micro stake, because the bankroll is a bit limited for low stakes.
Remember that if you want to face the cash game seriously, as you advance in the stakes the variance increases considerably. Therefore the rule of 30 boxes should not be applied uniformly in your evolution, unless you plan a very aggressive management of funds and have a low degree of aversion to risk.


Jan 13, 2019
Total posts
Don't play short stacked, you give up so much expected value. If you're playing at a stake you don't feel confident playing with a full buy in at you shouldn't be playing it.

Top pros use short stacks because it makes playing against them more difficult as you need to split your range up into more complex sections because you need to counter both the short stack at the table as well as the other full stacks. Also in most cases the pros will just look to cover the fish at the table, There's no real reason to get into a 100bb cooler when theres a fish at the table paying out like crazy so they often buy in for just enough to cover the fish to prevent that from happening.

As a low stakes rec I don't think there's any value to be gained by playing short stacked, villains are still going to sew chips to you in spots, it would be better to have a full stack to receive all of their gift as opposed to just 40% of it. Also it sounds like you're doing to to protect your roll not because you believe you have a profitable edge in the games you're going to play in with a 40bb stack.

If you haven't spent the time to develop a 40bb deep strategy there is no real reason to look to pay it in my opinion. Plus you're missing the fact that with fewer bbs in your stack theres going to be more 1 and 2 street bets being made that will get your chips all in increasing the variance while you are looking to "Protect" your roll by playing under max buy-in in the first place.

Is there a time and a place for 40bb play? Of course! Are the low stakes that place when you still have huge sections of the game where studying will yield you more value? Probably not.

I hope this helps!


Nov 20, 2012
Total posts
There is no quick and easy answer to this question. It depends in part on your confidence in your game, and your honest assessment of the exact game you are sitting in. If you feel that you are the best player at your table (If we are playing live low stakes and are competent we should be feeling this way almost always) then you should always look to be buying in for the maximum because our EV is maximized when we cover all the other players at the table. But perhaps our EV is not always maximized by having as much money in front of us as possible and this hypothetical should elucidate this point:

A live 2/5 match the stack game with 6 regs who are 4k+ deep and 2 fish who are 2k deep. We know the regs and we perceive them to play at the same level as us, perhaps one may even be better than us. If we expect to mostly pass money back and forth with the regs over a large sample, then it is totally acceptable (and perhaps EV is even maximized) when we buy in for 2k to cover the fish and then keep add on chips in our pocket in case those fish end up deeper than 2k.

In online games though we should employ a similar strategy to maximize EV... make sure that you cover the fish to the best of your ability. It constantly blows my mind when I see online crushers at 1-2 and 2-4 sitting with 100BB when you can buy in for 200BB and a big fish has 300BB in front of them. We will not make our money in online poker by battling the absolute best (unless thats what you like to do and you are truly aspiring to be the best). Most of our profit will come from the players who make glaring errors. The better you play, the more likely you are to maximize profits by buying in for the maximum. If you are a losing player and you gamble for fun, it is possible that our -ROI is minimized by buying in for less. It's a double edged sword. Serious players who are just getting involved in the game should look to buy in for 100BB at online cash because 100BB play is important to master and is a great foundational stepping stone to understanding poker theory.