Taking a shot is different than moving up in stakes because the term "taking a shot" implies a temporary, one-time attempt at moving up in stakes before having the proper bankroll to do so permanently. Taking a shot is like taking a shortcut through a dark alley - you'll get to where you want to go faster but you better go in with your eyes wide open.
Wandering around without a plan is just as dangerous in shot-taking as it is when walking through dark alleys. You need to have a specific objective and a set plan before making the journey or else you could end up in trouble.
Set Aside a Small "Shot Roll"
I have a pretty simple road map you can follow to stay out of trouble. If you stick with the plan in this article, your shots will never be a complete disaster. All you have to do is set aside a certain amount of money from your regular bankroll and consider that money gone. Pretend it does not exist any more.
Make sure you leave yourself enough of a bankroll to come back to if your shot does not work out. I suggest setting around about 2-4 buyins for the stakes you want to move up to. If you normally play 50NL and want to move up to 100NL, you can set aside $ 200 - $ 400 and count that money gone.
When you set that money aside, it's more of a mental thing than actually moving any money anywhere. You have to be good at this mental separation because the only time shots go wrong is when people keep trying to play at those higher stakes after burning through all the shot money.
The easiest way to keep track of your money is to just set a low-level mark for your bankroll and return back to your normal stakes when your bankroll dips below that level. So if you have $ 1800 in your bankroll and want to spend $ 300 trying to play at 100NL, you can do so until your bankroll falls to $ 1500.
Stick to Your Rules
I can not stress enough how important it is that you follow these shot-taking rules. Do not even attempt the shot if you think you'll have problems moving back down if the shot does not work out. With only a few buyins to work with, shots are not going to go well as often as you would hope. It only takes a little bad luck to kill your shot. That's fine. That's why you set out a small amount of money you do not need.
I've had more shots than I can remember go bad for me. For some reason, moving up from 100NL to 200NL was the worst run I ever had with shots during my poker career. It must have taken me 10 different attempts before finally being able to move up for good. It was not even as hard moving up from 600NL to 1000NL.
Sometimes shots just do not work out - that's life. If your shot lasts for any decent length of time before going bad, the temptation to continue playing higher stakes will be great. You'll join the smaller tables again and feel like the money just is not enough to get your blood stirring. Do not worry; that feeling will go away soon enough. Do not let it keep you from making the right choice.
When the shot does work out, all the hard work will be well worth it. You'll suddenly get to play bigger stakes on a regular basis, you'll feel proud of your new stakes and you'll get an immediate pay raise. It's one of the best feelings you will get from poker.