These days then the word “high-stakes” is subjective because what one player views high –stakes another may not. For example as an experienced online pro then my main level is NL100 which has $100 buy-ins. I know from experience that the mid-stakes levels these days from NL400 to NL1000 ($400 to $1000) buy-ins have some of the very best players in the world in them. These days there has been a mass compression of skill in online poker. The really high-stakes games or “nosebleed games” as they are also known tend not to have that much action.
The player pools are tiny and the required bankroll that is needed is huge as is the nerve to play at that level. As someone that played poker once upon a time with $5000 buy-ins $25-$50 blinds) then I know how difficult it is to play high-stakes poker and stay at those levels and handle the swings. A low stakes poker player can have a very high earn rate in terms of how many big blinds they make per 100 hands. In fact a strong regular at low stakes may make 20bb/100 hands or even more in some instances.
However as you move up in stakes then the number of big blinds that you would make per 100 hands drops sharply! While a player in $20 games may make 20bb/100 hands, a player in $1000-$2000 may make 1bb/100 hands. This is still a staggering $2000 per 100 hands of poker but there is one problem with that and it is to do with variance. The variance is so high in high-stakes poker that you can go massively long periods either losing money or breaking even. Because poker is a constantly evolving game then you can never be sure that your savvy opponents are not adjusting to you.
When all you are making is 1bb/100 hands then it stands to reason that you don’t have to fall very far to drop to a level where you are recycling money or even losing 1bb/100. If you happen to be losing 1bb/100 hands at $1000-$2000 blinds then you are losing $2000 per 100 hands or $20 per hand of poker. Unlike small stakes where a strong winning player maybe has to fall from 20bb/100 and so is 20bb/100 away from breaking even unlike the high stakes player.