I live in Las Vegas, and I am an excellent big blind limit player. I don't really care for no limit poker much, simply because limit is the game I understand best. Big blind limit games are simply structured limit games where the big blind is generally twice the amount of the small blind and the first two betting rounds are the amount of the big blind and the third and fourth rounds are double the amount of the big blind. They are commonly expressed as 4/8 games, 10/20 etc.

The problem here is that there are only a few places that offer big blind limit games and there is a big gap between the limits offered. The jump that must be made is from 4/8 to 20/40. There is a sporadic 10/20 games that goes for short times on weekends, but for all paractical purposes it does not go often enough to use it as a stepping stone.

The question is how does one build a bankroll to move up? Or do you even wait for a bankroll, just gamble it get your bankroll?

I had taken a decade long hiatus from playing poker, I had other things going that made better money. But now I am getting back into playing. I have good win rates in limit. So in pondering the question you can make the assumption that the answer is applicable to someone with a strong winning record.

Let me add some more background, last week I was playing 4/8 at the Bellagio, when I had a small epiphany about how many hours I could expect to be playing 4/8 to get together a 20/40 bankroll. I placed it very optimistically at 1500 hours but easily as many as 3000 hours of play.(Based on two big bets an hour minus overhead IE rake tips, and food in the casino, really an expectation much less the ten an hour, maybe more like 4 an hour) So I picked up and went and sat at the 20/40 game for awhile. I did fine, got about four ahead, lost with aces and decided to end my experiment while I was still a hundred ahead.

So what I am really pondering is should I just stop playing 4/8, and start shooting at 20/40 always. I am looking at it like why try to stay in business at 4/8 for small returns, rather then just be in business at 20/40 + for larger returns when you can be in business. Will I get to where I want to be quicker by shooting at 20/40 or grinding at 4/8? While shooting goes against conventional bankroll wisdom, I will not particularly hurt me if I loose a buy-in or swing up and down to where I need to start over again. ( I am rather disciplined about not getting into trouble with gambling)

Update: 5/10/21

So in the year or so after I posted this originally, I took a few shoots at 20/40, and lost about 2500. As far as swings go that was nothing in 20/40, and it was won money from 4/8 games so nothing serious as far as that goes.

Since I posted this originally, a lot has happened with limit poker in Las Vegas, and none is very good. It has become harder to find 4/8 Big blind limit games, most poker rooms like to spread 2/4 limit games with jackpots, some have lowered blinds in 4/8 to 1/2,3/6 made a slight comeback and many have now offer 2-6 spread limit games rather then 4/8. 10/20 limit although sporadic until a few years ago, is completely gone in Las Vegas. The only place you can find 20/40 limit is at the Bellagio. About half the players in this game I know from the mid-nineties. The other half I got to know over the 4 years I spent at the B dealing. While there are a few live ones, the game is wicked tough, with a much more seasoned and stronger lineup then you would find in a typical 2/5 or 5/10 NL game. A lot of the pros I talked to are talking about win rates of around one big blind an hour making them happy.

So I came to the conclusion that limit poker was just not the way to go.

So I started playing No Limit. I did fine playing 1/3 and 2/5. Even had a life changing event unrelated to poker that set me up to be able to completely separate BR from living expenses in late 2019. So everything was great, winning, all the time I needed to play, then covid hit and I did not play for over a year, until a week ago after my second shot. Was out last weekend, did good not great, but this is where I am at, kind of starting over again. Let you know how it goes.

  • 1
    I'm not into Limit but generally when a player wants to move up, he plays both limits for a certain period, both for testing the waters while keeping bankroll in control. When the bankroll is ready for the next limit, you'll have already many games in that limit. This is what most online players do, although i know you play live.
    – user4090
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


I haven't played limit in a long time nor have I been to Vegas in a while, but I find it surprising that there wouldn't be any 5/10 limit games available--there's so many poker rooms--but I'll take it that you've looked into it.

Generally, I've heard that around 300-400 big bets is considered a good bankroll for live limit hold'em for a decent, winning player. For 10/20, that would translate to $6,000-$8,000 (the money that you have set aside and available to play with).

Another way to look at this is: what bankroll are you comfortable with having when you play 4/8? Take that answer and multiply by 2.5 for your answer, but realize that the play at 10/20 games is presumably better, your win-rate might go down a tad, and that introduces more variance.

Alternatively, if you're comfortable with where your bankroll is right now, use the amount that you have over and above your "comfort level" to slowly start mixing in some 10/20 games here and there--but keep 4/8 as your go-to game and always have a sufficient bankroll for that. You can get a feel for the higher stakes games (like if there's any differences in skill-level), and if you run good to start out you'll get the bankroll you need and can continue shifting to 10/20. If your first couple sessions don't go well, just go back to 4/8 and build it back up again; there's no need to commit to only one or the other.

  • I just realized that you were asking about moving up to 20/40. My advice still stands generally but with different proportions. If you have a few hundred over your acceptable bankroll for 4/8, it's OK to take a shot at the 20/40, but now I really think there's got to be some games with limits in between there, somewhere in Vegas. Keep looking. Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 21:39
  • I am very familiar with the market here, there is no more middle limit games until 20/40.Back ten to fifteen years ago it was very granular, 6/12, 9/18 15/30 all available every night of the week. Now it is 2/4,4/8 an iffy 10/20. There is however as much 2/40 as ever and much more 40/80 and higher then there was.
    – Jon
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 21:53
  • I am comfortable playing 4/8 with no bank roll at all. Just a job, the rent paid, food in the pantry and a buy in is fine.
    – Jon
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 21:59
  • @Jon, if that's the case and you define bankroll to be "money I can afford to lose", then by all means take a shot at 20/40 if you have an extra $1,000 or so that you're not too attached to. Maybe it will go well, maybe not. I'd be inclined to just chalk it up to tough luck that there's no middle ground available for you. If you really want to become a regular higher stakes player, you'll need to start setting aside some of your winnings and creating a separate poker bankroll until you have enough to move up. Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 22:25
  • No that's buy-in, bankroll is the reserve you need to stay in business at a particular level. Bankroll is also exclusive of income. A buy in is just simply money you have to buy-in and may or may not be part of bankroll.
    – Jon
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 23:17

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