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Why dropping down in stakes can be crucial to survival

Why dropping down in stakes can be crucial to survival

It’s a tough pill to swallow.

Nobody wants to drop down in stakes. The games seem less exciting; the prizes smaller; the fields bigger.

Plus it’s a punch square in the face of your ego.

But at one point or another, the vast majority of successful poker players have had to drop down in stakes for their poker career to survive long-term.

If you’re amid a brutal downswing and you don’t consider dropping down in stakes, then you might have more money than sense. Because if the downswing continues at its current rate, going broke is a very real possibility.

In this article, we spoke to a BBZ Poker student and community member who was forced to swallow that pill and play smaller buy-in games. Now he’s come out the other side with not only a revitalised love for studying the game, but also a rejuvenated bankroll.


Melle Bijstra is a 27-year-old sales manager from the Netherlands who plays poker on the side. He started to play online during COVID-19 when he didn’t have much else to do. Then, when he was back on the road for work, he’d often play online sessions from his hotel rooms.

“I got home one day from a trip and I played every night,” he says. “I’d watch Lex Veldhuis – my fellow Dutchman – and it was a lot of fun. It inspired me to start learning the game.”

Bijstra made a $100 deposit, but with the luxury of a good income he knew this was an amount he could replenish as and when, should he go broke.

“I really enjoyed poker and I wanted to learn more so I looked for free content on YouTube,” he says. “Then I decided to buy a course from another site. I stuck with it but would continue to go broke and reload.”

It wasn’t until Bijstra discovered BBZ Poker that he noticed a significant improvement in not only his game, but his winnings.

“Things really sped up,” he says. “I think Jordan does a terrific job of explaining things simply, and that’s exactly what I needed at the time. He presents maths and solver data in a way that’s easy to understand.”

Bijstra won his first tournament on a work trip for $6,800, and from there a heater began. First, another nice score – $4,000. Then he had a huge result in a GGPoker Championship, adding $20,000 to his bankroll.

“I’d put in a lot of work and was up to around $30,000,” he says. “I thought, holy shit. There really is money to be made in poker. I hope I can do something with this.”


Then, at the beginning of 2023, the downswing began.

“It lasted a long time and got worse and worse,” Bijstra admits.

He was down hundreds of buy-ins and although it wasn’t an easy decision, he knew there was one obvious thing he could do to take back some control.

“I want to play poker full-time so I knew what I had to do,” he says. “I had to drop down.

“Drop the ego. I’m a competitive guy, I want to win. But I wasn’t winning.”

Once he’d made that decision, Bijstra focused on improving his game. He bought the Lex Veldhuis Bundle and began studying with BBZ Poker six hours a week, while also working 50 hours.

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Lex Bundle

Lex sits down with the BBZ Coaches


“The Lex Bundle was a breath of fresh air,” he says. “It showed me what was important.”

He also looked inward and worked on his mental game using the BBZ Poker Daily Seminars and the Mental Game Bundle.

“I need to be able to handle this situation,” he says. “So I invested a lot of time in working on the mental side of the game. I started analysing the reasons and feelings I was having. I had to believe I was doing the right things even if I wasn’t seeing the results.”

Bijstra says sometimes you need a coach to draw a map for you and tell you what to focus on. His map drawers were Jordan Drummond (aka BBZ) and Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet.

“From there I built the mental strength to focus on the process, not the outcome.”


Bijstra estimates he swung down around 600 buy-ins throughout 2023. He dropped down in stakes three times.

He did whatever it took to ensure he could keep playing. Because if you go broke, that’s not an option.

“It was a learning curve,” he says. “At first it gave me a feeling of sadness. It’s less exciting, in a way, playing lower stakes.

“But that went away after a couple of weeks. The game is about being competitive and winning – it doesn’t really matter what the stakes are.

“That was a big learning moment as well. It felt like something I needed to go through, and that it was going to help me if I can become a professional.”

Now we’re glad to say Bijstra has managed to turn things around.

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MTT Satellite Bundle

Earn your seat into the biggest tournaments.


“These last few weeks have been absolutely insane,” he says. “I’ve doubled my bankroll. Relief is the biggest word that comes to mind.”

Bijstra has been on a tear – as you’ll see in the BBZ Brags section of our Discord. He’s not quite back to where he was, but he’s on the right track.

Plus, it just feels good to win consistently.

“If poker was easy, everyone would do it. But this is why we do all the work. This is why it’s worthwhile,” he says.

It’s a situation that will probably happen again, but he’s ready and knows what to do
Prioritise your mental game

“My confidence is high,” he says. “To anyone suffering through a downswing, I’d say just make sure you’re studying. Have something that shows you the way.

“It shows how much of a bitch that variance can be!”

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