Poker Tips and Strategies Posts
Monday, May 2, 2011, 6:32 AM
[Poker Tips and Strategies
While listening in to a discussion between two older 888 forum members, Cheesies and L67C, Cheesies referenced a quote regarding bankroll management that I hadn't heard before but sounded very interesting. I'm paraphrasing, but it went along the lines of, "your bankroll should be at least the size of the tournament prize pool to support the variance of multi table poker."
Think about that for a second. Your bankroll should be at least the size of the entire tournament prize pool before you register for said tournament. That means that if you wanted to play the daily $5k guaranteed at $22 a game, you should have at least a $5 000 bankroll. When trying to dispute this claim, two schools of thought come to mind:
- If the buyin is higher than $22, I can afford to play in the tournament without a $5 000 bankroll because the field will be shorter and it will be easier to cash in the tournament.
- If the buyin is cheaper than $22, I can afford to play in the tournament without a $5 000 bankroll as it won't cost me as much to enter.
Both lines of thought come to the same conclusion. Variance.
While a greater buy-in may mean less opponents and therefore easier to cash, the times you don't cash in the tournament will be highly stressful on your bankroll.
While a smaller buy-in may allow you to buy into a particular tournament many times over, the larger field that accompanies smaller buy-in games will make it highly difficult to finish in the top 3. Thus preventing any real money from being won.
So what is my point? Should you avoid playing the Daily Challenges because you don't have a $15k, $30k or $100k bankroll? Are you stuck playing $100 and $500 guaranteed tournaments forever?
Of course not.
However, buying in directly into these games will have a long term negative effect on your bankroll.
What you need to be doing is actively searching for value in your tournaments. Two major ways you can find value are:
Most of us know what satellites are. Satellites allow you the opportunity to play the expensive games, and smaller fields, for a cheap price. This greatly reduces the consequence on our bankrolls while giving us extra prize pool value for the tournaments we are playing.
Not everyone knows to look for Overlay in their tournament. Overlay occurs when the prizepool is set at a specific amount, and the number of registrants falls short of covering the prizepool amount offered.
For example if there is a $10k guaranteed tournament with a $100 buyin, this tournament needs 100 players to cover the $10k prizepool. If there are only 50 players registered, there is a $5000 overlay (or $5000 extra money) in the prizepool.
This is huge added value, and you should be actively searching for, and playing these tournaments when you find them.
Thursday, February 3, 2011, 7:55 AM
[Poker Tips and Strategies
Let Someone Else Find the Leaks
Any online poker player who consistently wins year in and year out, will tell you that self-analysis is a major part of their success. Some players will even go as far as studying more than they play. Studying poker includes reading all sorts of different material available to you, books, magazines, internet sources, and especially reviewing hand histories from games you've played.
I've already touched upon the importance of studying hand histories in a previous blog, as well as stressing the benefit of replayer software that is available to everyone these days. I want to further discuss self-analysis and try to highlight some benefits of alternative approaches that you may not be using to the fullest.
I truly believe that being self-aware is one of the most invaluable characteristics a poker player can possess. I don't know if self-awareness is something that can be taught, but it can certainly be improved upon by everyone. For instance, I consider myself to have a fairly unbiased realistic perspective of what my limits are as a poker player. Today after a tournament, I was ranting to a friend about a hand that cost me a significant stack, when he mentioned that he didn't particularly like the line I took. This kind of knocked me back for a moment. The specific move I had made which he had a problem with, was at the time, something I thought was no less than brilliant.
My first instinct was to argue with him and defend my position, but it took less than a minute for me to see all the reasons why he was right and why I butchered the hand. This got me to thinking almost immediately. I like to think I analyze my play without bias, but how honest can you actually be when trying to critic yourself. If you ask any poker player 3 things they do exceptionally well at the table, they will be able to rhyme these off in 30 seconds. Could they tell you 3 things things they need to improve upon? Probably, but it would take a lot longer than 30 seconds, and it would be likely that there are far more prominent leaks in their game than the ones they described.
The truth is this: In order to plug a leak in our game, we first have to be able to spot the hole. For whatever reason we are unable to spot the weaknesses in our game, and therefore can't make the necessary steps to correct them. For losing players this is easier to fix. Often losing and some break-even players make the mistake of analyzing hands with results-oriented bias. If they won the hand, they played it correctly. If they lost it, they should have done something differently. Most winning and break-even players know this to be false. We judge the hand based on the correctness of the decision, not the result.
However even winning players often fail to narrow this down further still. Perhaps you took a line that got your opponent to put all his chips in as a slight underdog, resulting in you winning the hand. You got your chips in good, you won the hand, what could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing is wrong with getting your money in good, but getting your money in with the best of it, is a result in of itself. Ask yourself a few questions:
- Would my opponent have paid off his entire range with the line I took?
- Did he only pay me off this time because his hand was polarized to one side of his range?
- Could I have taken a different line that would have gotten my opponent to pay me off with the bottom end of his range as well?
Remember, when we're deciding what lines to take against opponents, we are making our decisions based on a range of possible hands our opponent may be holding, so our decisions need to account for both ends of this range and everything in between. If we're taking a line that only gets us paid when our opponent has a flush draw, but has us drawing dead the rest of the time, we can't evaluate the correctness of this line based solely on the one time we won the pot against a flush draw.
This type of thought process and decision making leads precisely to bad habits. Even more damaging, it leads to bad habits that we believe to be winning moves. If we think the way we played a hand is correct, we are unable to see the ways in which we could (or should) improve it. Bringing us back to why it is essential to have someone else evaluate your game for you. They offer a different perspective to see holes in our games that we've created through repetition of moderately winning to moderately losing lines.
Below is the hand taken from the daily High Rollers Tournament on 888 which inspired the discussion:
#Game No : 106203917
***** Cassava Hand History for Game 106203917 *****
$200/$400 Blinds No Limit Holdem - *** 02 02 2011 18:36:30
Tournament #29606697 $100 + $9 - Table #9 (Real Money)
Seat 2 is the button
Total number of players : 6
Seat 1: gnorma ( $3,656 )
Seat 2: snusman ( $12,145 )
Seat 4: letmeseeit ( $18,446 )
Seat 6: aaronlt ( $19,116 )
Seat 7: dece123 ( $4,351 )
Seat 9: xBARALHONEx ( $5,549 )
letmeseeit posts small blind [$200]
aaronlt posts big blind [$400]
The history: I had been at this table for about 40 hands, and had thin notes on two of them, snusman and gnorma. Snusman was beginning to make a habit out of minimum raising the button, and letmeseeit was playing fairly loose/passive.
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to aaronlt [ 8d, 8s ]
snusman raises [$800]
letmeseeit calls [$600]
aaronlt calls [$400]
My first mistake of the hand. I had fully intended on raising snusman the next time he min raised my big blind, but the flat call from the SB threw me off, and I reacted without taking my time to assess the hand. It was a perfect opportunity for a 3-bet. Playing too loose/passive out of big blind facing small raises is a significant hole in my game that I have to consciously and actively work on.
** Dealing flop ** [ 8h, 2c, Kh ]
aaronlt bets [$1,800]
snusman calls [$1,800]
letmeseeit calls [$1,800]
I like my flop lead. Betting into the raiser could mean a number of things. I could have flopped a king from big blind and I'm trying to protect it. I could have flopped middle pair/limped with a mid pocket pair like 9s or 7s and am trying to win the pot here facing only 1 remaining opponent. I could also be leading out on a flush draw. So not only am I inflating the pot by leading here, I am also masking the huge strength of my hand. Being called twice should have instantly triggered me to a flush draw.
** Dealing turn ** [ Ad ]
This street sparked the discussion. I saw the Ace hit the turn and I immediately thought “perfect!” I could now check, feigning fear of the ace, and further reinforcing the perception that I have a pair of kings. My opponent on the button, snusman the original raiser, would have to jump at the opportunity to bet this ace, whether he had it or not. If he doesn't have the ace, I check raise anyways and have maximized value out of an opponent without a hand. Or he has the ace, and he'll be put in a very difficult spot facing a significant check-raise.
This was my thought process. My critic said “I would have bet the turn 100%.” This in itself wasn't enough to convince me that I made a mistake. Next he said, “if your opponent hit the ace, he's going to at least call a turn bet.” It was such an obvious statement, but one that I hadn't even considered.
By leading the turn, I still offer my opponent the opportunity to represent the ace, only this time he has to do so in the form of a raise, not a lead bet. This means that when I re-raise, based on the size of the pot, I will be able to put him all in, and there is a very good chance he will call and be in rough shape for his tournament life.
Leading the turn offers potentially an even greater benefit. I've lead a king high flop from the blinds into a raiser, representing mostly a pair or a flush draw. Now by leading the ace on the turn, I am able to add confusion as to what I might be holding. Would I lead a pair of kings on an ace turn? Would I 2-shell, semi-bluff a flush draw into an ace? Was I bluffing the flop and hit the ace on the turn? Do I have a set? The more confusion you can create in your opponent, the more opportunity you give them to make a mistake.
I did not take advantage of these opportunities and the original raiser checked behind. Another sign that should have clued me into a possible flush draw. I figured him for the type of opponent who would jump at the chance to bet this ace, and when he opted for the free card, I should have realized that there was a high probability he was on a draw.
** Dealing river ** [ 6h ]
aaronlt bets [$3,450]
snusman raises [$9,545]
aaronlt calls [$6,095]
I make no justification for the river play. I said on the flop and again on the turn, I should have been keyed into a flush draw. This doesn't mean I should have folded my set, but I should have opted for a check/call line to control the pot size. Instead I tried to make a stopper lead bet, and then followed it up by yet another mistake and called the shove. Mostly because I had the SB on the flush draw, so when snusman shoved I was a bit thrown, and truthfully a bit angry.
** Summary **
snusman shows [ Th, 5h ]
aaronlt shows [ 8d, 8s ]
snusman collected [ $26,890 ]
I hope by revealing how poorly I can play a hand, I was able to demonstrate how a different point of view can illuminate alternatives you may have missed, and destructive patterns you may have fallen into. Luckily for me I ran well today, and despite making numerous poor decisions, and committing the cardinal sin of trying to fix a mistake by making another one, I was still able to final table the tournament and make a few bucks.
Sunday, January 23, 2011, 7:22 PM
[Poker Tips and Strategies
If I was to tell you, "you need to think about how you're going to play each hand before you make a decision," you would probably roll your eyes at me. It seems painfully obvious that we need to plan how we want to play a hand ahead of time - but how many of us do it consistently.
Playing a hand without a clear goal in mind is a mistake I see every time I sit at the table or discuss a hand on the forum. It's also a mistake that I'm guilty of as well.
To elaborate on my point of how common these mistakes can be, and often how subtle they are that we may not even notice, I want to outline 3 hands:
#Game No : 304335075
***** Cassava Hand History for Game 304335075 *****
$0.05/$0.10 Blinds No Limit Holdem - *** 23 01 2011 13:12:21
Table Daly City (Real Money)
Seat 4 is the button
Total number of players : 6
Seat 1: Karlitros_AA ( $2.92 )
Seat 2: Zerkakos ( $8.28 )
Seat 4: aaronlt ( $16.46 )
Seat 6: Tostig14 ( $14.19 )
Seat 7: biggirtha ( $20.02 )
Seat 9: Defendor525 ( $9.87 )
Tostig14 posts small blind [$0.05]
biggirtha posts big blind [$0.10]
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to aaronlt [ Kd, Qh ]
Here we are dealt a KQ on the button. A hand that most of us would agree that we are going to play.
Defendor525 raises [$0.40]
aaronlt calls [$0.40]
UTG raises 4x the blinds and the action folds to us. It would be perfectly acceptable to reraise here, but for the sake of commonality, we flat called the raise. Both blinds fold and we're heads up in position.
** Dealing flop ** [ 2c, Ad, Kh ]
Defendor525 bets [$0.80]
aaronlt calls [$0.80]
This flop best demonstrates the point I'm trying to make. Here we have flopped a good middle pair, and our opponent has lead out. It is entirely plausible that he has flopped a pair of Aces and we are in very bad shape. However, he could also be continuation betting, we simply can't know. So what do we do? We call the bet.
Why? Calling to see what our opponent will do on the turn is simply not a good enough answer. You need to have a clear concise plan for each and every action on each and every possible turn card. What will you do if the board pairs? If there is another 3, 4, 5 or T, J, Q to fill in straights? You make two pair? Three Kings? Air?
These decisions need to be made BEFORE you make the call on the flop. Or else they will lead to you losing more money on the turn and river.
** Dealing turn ** [ Ac ]
Defendor525 bets [$1.30]
aaronlt calls [$1.30]
The board pairs the ace on the turn and our opponent leads out again. Again, if he has an Ace, another bet makes perfect sense. However, we called on the flop, and if we were ahead then, we are still ahead, and if we were behind, we are still behind. Nothing has changed, therefore we must call again on the turn. A fold now would not justify having made the call on the flop.
** Dealing river ** [ 4h ]
aaronlt bets [$2.57]
Defendor525 calls [$2.57]
The river is a relative brick unless he's holding 44. Our opponent now checks. This line does not match up with the line he has taken so far if he holds an Ace. It makes much more sense that our opponent has a mid pair 88-QQ or some kind of Kx hand and is opting for pot control. This means our hand is likely best and we can go for a bit of value here. If our opponent check-raises, we can assume he's probably got a full house.
** Summary **
aaronlt shows [ Kd, Qh ]
Defendor525 shows [ Jd, Ah ]
Defendor525 collected [ $9.78 ]
Our opponent calls and shows down a strong ace. I don't like his river action as it isn't consistent with his line, and he's showing fear of losing to hands that are very unlikely.
However, the damage has been done, and we lost almost half a buy-in because we didn't map our hand before we started playing.
#Game No : 304335777
***** Cassava Hand History for Game 304335777 *****
$0.05/$0.10 Blinds No Limit Holdem - *** 23 01 2011 13:17:42
Table Daly City (Real Money)
Seat 4 is the button
Total number of players : 5
Seat 1: winnerloc ( $10.27 )
Seat 2: Zerkakos ( $8.68 )
Seat 4: aaronlt ( $10 )
Seat 7: biggirtha ( $19.92 )
Seat 9: Defendor525 ( $15.46 )
biggirtha posts small blind [$0.05]
Defendor525 posts big blind [$0.10]
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to aaronlt [ 9d, Ah ]
Same deal as last time, we're dealt A9 on the button in a short handed game. Definitely a hand worth playing if the action suits us.
aaronlt raises [$0.35]
biggirtha raises [$1.10]
aaronlt calls [$0.80]
This happens far too often for my liking and is something I'm guilty of far too much as well. Here we have raised as we should, and the Small Blind has reraised us. This is a case of "he knows that I know that he knows that I know."
We've raised the button as we should, the SB knows that we're likely to be aggressive, so his re-raise doesn't necessarily mean quality. He could simply be defending his blinds. So instead of raising again, or conceeding to his defense, we stubbornly make the call...without a clear plan for future streets.
** Dealing flop ** [ 5h, 9h, Jd ]
biggirtha bets [$1.80]
aaronlt calls [$1.80]
Again we've flopped middle pair, and are facing a continuation bet. Our 3 betting opponent doesn't have to have hit any of that flop. It' not likely our opponent has a 5 or a 9, or even necessarily a Jack. Therefore the only real way we're behind at this point is if he holds TT QQ KK or AA. So we call.
** Dealing turn ** [ Qs ]
biggirtha bets [$4.50]
The turn does us no favours. It fills some streets, helps KQ and AQ get there, offers some straight draws. Worst of all, it doesn't slow our opponent down. We could have QJ, QT, T8, Any sort of Qxhh combination, and he fires into us again. At this point, we have to fold, not knowing whether or not our opponent is holding something huge, or if he is just continuing his aggressive "don't bully me" stance.
Not only have we failed to win this pot, we've failed to establish table dominance, given momentum to an opponent sitting behind us, and lost respect to the rest of thet able. Playing this hand passively without a clear plan for each street has been devastating to our game on many levels.
This last hand was taken from an Omaha session only because it explains one last point I'd like to stress.
#Game No : 78252259
***** Cassava Hand History for Game 78252259 *****
$0.50/$1 Blinds Pot Limit Omaha - *** 23 01 2011 14:00:00
Table Toronto (Real Money)
Seat 9 is the button
Total number of players : 6
Seat 1: KVOSK ( $131.41 )
Seat 2: m0nument ( $100 )
Seat 4: cristi8 ( $266.31 )
Seat 6: Joop123 ( $127.66 )
Seat 7: aaronlt ( $119.83 )
Seat 9: Luckysmy ( $117.48 )
KVOSK posts small blind [$0.50]
m0nument posts big blind [$1]
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to aaronlt [ 5h, 3h, 6h, 7c ]
We are in good position with a pretty good hand. It's fairly draw heavy, and while it's only single suited to the hearts, it's still better than nothing. It's worth thinking about playing, if for no other reason than our position, and hand strength is hidden.
aaronlt raises [$3.50]
KVOSK calls [$3]
It folds to us and we raise to take control of the hand and mask the strength of our hand. We are called once from SB and go into the flop Heads Up in position.
** Dealing flop ** [ 6c, 5d, 4c ]
aaronlt bets [$8]
KVOSK calls [$8]
We have flopped top two pair and the middle straight. The second nuts, and fairly certain to be the best hand in this spot. Our opponent checks, we bet the pot and he calls. At this point we are practically guaranteed to have the best hand as an opponent with 78xx would have reraised at this point given two clubs are on the board.
** Dealing turn ** [ Kh ]
aaronlt bets [$24]
Here is the point I want to make. The turn is a brick, the hand is unchanged. The action is the same as the flop, our opponent checks, we bet the pot again with our second nut straight. This time our opponent folds.
Why? He's getting the same price as he was on the flop, 2:1, so his odds of pulling on the next card are the same. Yes he had two chances to hit on the flop, but with 2:1 pot odds, the price wasn't correct then either.
What has happened, was our opponent made a poor call on the flop given the price and the odds "because it was cheap." He valued the $8 on the flop far less than he values the $24 on the turn.
The texture of the board is unchanged, the bet is unchanged, but the $$$ amount has changed and that is what has affected his decision.
He made a call on the flop based on what $ amount he was willing to lose, and a fold on the turn based on what $ he was willing to lose.
This is a clear example of how NOT to plan strategy of playing a hand on current and future streets, but also an example that FAR TOO MANY people are guilty of making.
Monday, December 6, 2010, 4:27 PM
[Poker Tips and Strategies
Many people are confident in most of their poker game. Everyone has an enormous amount of experience of playing the beginning of a tournament. Alot of us have experience approaching and making the money in the tournament. And if you are reading these blogs, I'm going to assume you have a fair bit of experience even making the final table of tournaments ;)
However, maybe you are one of the many who find themselves finishing 2nd far more than 1st. Do you get to the final table, only to be struck by an anxiety attack when you get down to the final two? The good news is you're not alone, and even better news is, there is a cure!
First and foremost, nothing beats experience. In poker, as in most things, the more experience you have, the more comfortable, and efficient you will be in performing your tasks. Luckily, you have many options to gain more Heads Up experience. There are HU sngs running all day every day, where you can play 1v1 poker for as little as a $1 (or as much as $1000). As well, there are heads up cash tables. If you are serious about improving your HU game, you definitely need to look into logging some hands at either of these options. No amount of reading will replace this learning experience. However, we can arm you with some tools for success ahead of time.
Starting Hand Requirements
Since you are used to playing tournaments from the beginning, you've spent alot of time at full ring tables, and probably have a firm grasp on a good set of starting requirements. You know not to play your K5 offsuit, or to call with your QJ in a raised pot.
You've developed this common sense through experience. However in HU poker you don't have the luxury of waiting for premium hands. At a full table you are only paying blinds once every five hands (2 times every 10 hands, one big blind and one small blind).
In HU poker, you are spending money on blinds EVERY hand. This means that at a full table, it is not uncommon for you to lose 8, 9, 10 or even 20 hands before winning one. And since the blind frequency is so low, this really won't have a massive effect on your stack for the most part.
However if you're playing HU poker and you wait 10 to 20 hands before you attempt to win one, you are going to find yourself in a hole very very quickly.
This means you have to play more hands, which means you have to open your starting requirements. Drastically.
One huge mistake people make when adjusting for HU poker is to increase their calling ranges, while keeping their raising ranges the same. They've opened their starting requirements, but only done so in a passive style. This will hurt your results. You need to open your ranges equally across the board. If you're used to raising any pair, or any high Ace, you're now looking to raise any pair, any high Ace, probably any King, Queen and most Jacks as well. Holding a hand like J2s which you may fold at a full table, is likely to be the best hand more often than not in a HU match. If it is likely for you to have the best hand, than you should be raisinig not calling.
Also, be aware of your opponent. Make notice when he opens his ranges and by how much. If your opponent makes a drastic change to his raising range, then you can be sure that he is raising you with less quality cards, not that he is catching an "amazing run of good hands," as alot of losing players like to believe.
To counteract this, you need to open your 3-betting range. Reraise with KQ when you might normally call. Put the pressure back on your opponent. Force him to make assumptions about what you might be holding, not calling him to try and find out what he has.
You're going to want to play your button as often as possible. Having position in HU poker is critical. Some people take the approach to raise every single time they are on the button, regardless of what they hold. The purpose of this is to increase the size of the pots they are playing when they are in position. It puts pressure on your opponent to play big pots out of position.
Alternatively, don't be afraid to fold when you are in small blind (out of position). Raise your legitimate hands and play them aggressively from this spot, but you need to stay in control.
Heads Up poker is as much about feel as it is about math or strategy. You need to feel your opponent, and play off his strengths and weaknesses. It is not uncommon for a good heads up player to change gears two or three times during the span of the HU match. If you are finding that your opponent is slowly taking pots away from you, then you need to either switch to more aggressive or tighten up, depending on where the leak is.
Change gears to best suit the style your opponent is playing, and grind away at his chip stack. A personal strategty of mine is to try and get my opponent to a 2:1 chip defecit, and then find a coin flip situation to end the match. If I lose, I still have plenty of chips to try and get back in the game, and if I win the coin flip, game over.
The best advice is to make sure you know your numbers and have an adequate grasp on what your starting requirements to be, and to simply play HU over and over and over again, until you really get a handle on what it takes to feel and adapt to your opponents style.
Sunday, November 14, 2010, 11:08 PM
[Poker Tips and Strategies
Being a winning poker player is easy. Holding onto your money is an entirely different story. Bankroll management is what truly separates the grinders from the flash-in-the-pan winners. However, that isn't to say that taking a shot at the higher levels from time to time is a bad thing. You just have to make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons, and approaching the game with the right mindset.
What does it mean to “take a shot”?
When I say “take a shot,” I mean to play a tournament or a cash table that is beyond our proper bankroll management. For example, if your bankroll permits you to play $5 games and the occasional $10 game, you would be taking a shot if you registered for a $50 game. Obviously some shots would be more dramatic than others, say for example a $500 Aussi Millions Qualifier versus the Friday Deepstack Challenge at $30. There are two things above all else to consider when deciding whether or not to take a shot: The return on your investment, and the reasons for taking the shot.
The wrong reasons to take a shot:
Anger is a scary emotion for poker players, since it provides us with a sense of fearlessness that may otherwise prevent us from taking certain risks. This fear is what makes sure we are playing within our means, and throwing caution to the wind often ends in regret. So how do we combat this? Trying to convince yourself not to play a game because you're too angry (or on tilt) is absolutely futile. You need to set triggers for yourself ahead of time that let you know you are heading down that path, and to get out before you get there. A few examples would be a loss-limit or a time-limit.
Ambition is the last refuge of failure (Oscar Wilde). Ambition with intelligence and perseverance is a very powerful tool, which is exactly the opposite of taking a shot. The poker world is littered with people who thought they were as good or better than the people playing higher limits than themselves, who took their shots and failed. Sure, every once in awhile you will hear a success story, but they are few and far between.
Boredom can lead us to do many ill-advised things. Moving up the poker ladder is certainly one of them. I'm reminded of a situation that once took place where I saw a regular $2 SnG player sitting up at the $200 tables. I asked this person why they were making such a drastic jump. They told me, “I like to treat myself every once in awhile.” I was shocked! A sit n go tournament costing $2 and a tournament costing $200 are not even the same game. They may both be poker, but the players are playing two entirely different games. If you're bored, and you feel like you have $200 to blow, spend it on your family or friends. Buy some new furniture or take a weekend trip. You will come back feeling fulfilled, rather than kicking yourself the next morning for wasting 100 buy-ins on a 20 minute entertainment binge.
The right reasons to take a shot:
Winning an unexpected tournament can often lead to a lot of cash. Some people like to cash this money out, while other people like to reinvest it into their bankrolls to help their poker account grow. Another option is to take a percentage of these winnings (so that you still have some profit even if you lose), and take a shot at a higher limit game.
Perhaps you are normally rolled for regular $1/2 No Limit play ($200 buy in games). During 888's Sunday Challenge, you win the 50k and take home $11 000 for first place. You decide to cash out some out, reinvest some into your bankroll, and take $2000 of your winnings to the $5/10 table ($1000 buy-in). This way if you lose while taking your shot, you're still well up on your tournament win.
You have a successful win rate at your current limits, and feel it is time to move up the ladder. Win rate is determined by big bets per 100 hands played. This means if you are a regular $1/2 Limit player, the big bet is $4. A successful win-rate is anything over 2 BB/100 hands. That means at $1/2, you would be playing well if you are winning $8 every 100 hands.
When is it time to move up? While it may mean you are doing well winning 2 BB/100 hands, you're not dominating that limit by any means. If you are beginning to average 4 or 5 BB/100 hands, you probably have a firm grip on the limit you are playing, and taking a shot isn't a bad idea. Remember though, that you need to have a significant sample size of hands played before these numbers are accurate. Winning 6 Big Bets after your first 100 hands, doesn't mean anything as to how well equipped you are to move up the ladder. You will need several (tens) of thousands of hands before you can get accurate results.
When taking a shot it is important to still have goals and especially stop loss limits. This does not apply so much to tournaments, since once you register, you're in until the end. However in cash play, you definitely need to set your rules ahead of time.
How much do you want to win?
How much can you stand to lose?
How long do you want to play for?
Playing outside of your bankroll will absolutely affect how you play hands. You may not be willing to play a hand as aggressively as you normally would because you don't want to risk the chips. Or you may change your starting hand requirements entirely. The longer you stay at the table, the deeper your stack will become, and these negative affects on your game will become multiplied.
The best way to avoid this, is to make sure you know when to quit. If you sit down at a $1000 table with the intention of making it to $3000, you get up and leave at or near that $3000 mark. If you get to $3500 and start to push for more money, the consequence will be devastating should you lose it all.
Alternatively, it's important to remember losing is a possibility, and it will happen. When it happens, it's important not to get bogged down by the “would've, could've, should've” and just take it for what it is, a missed shot.