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One of most important skills needed to become successful in poker is proper bankroll management. Without an adequate bankroll, you cannot withstand normal variance in poker nor will you be able to consistently play at your preferred stakes
Lots of poker players – even winning players – are prone to burning through their online bankrolls quickly.
And even the best players can ruin weeks or months of successful grinding in one or two bad sessions.
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Players who lose money playing live poker also claim they’re simply unable to keep a balance online. If a player is a consistent winner in live poker, it stands to reason that his or her game is profitable and should be similarly profitable in online poker. Unfortunately, being successful in online poker requires significantly more discipline and control than live poker. Players are stronger, play is quicker and you don’t have anyone to see when you go off the deep end.
Play Within Your Bankroll
In order to survive the typical variance that most of us will experience at the poker table, you will want a bankroll between 20 and 40 times the standard buy-in for the level you wish to play.
The theory behind this is that you don’t want to sit down with more than 5% of your total bankroll in each session. If your buy-in is larger than 5% of your total bankroll, then you may not be able to survive the typical variance that many players will experience.
The simplest way to explain it is to look at the mathematical theoremGambler’s Ruin. One of the concepts of Gambler’s Ruin is this: take two players and pit them against each other in a zero-sum game (such as flipping a coin, where each player has an expected win/loss rate of exactly 0%).
One player has a finite bankroll. The other has an infinite bankroll. Given infinite repetitions of the game, the player with the finite roll will eventually go broke.
In the online poker world, it’s you against everyone else. This means it’s your roll against the infinite roll of the rest of the world. If poker was a zero-sum game, you’d go broke.
Luckily, if you’re a winning player, you can expect a positive return on your investment. But you need to have enough money in your roll to make the swings and variance irrelevant.
Your bankroll, although finite, needs to be large enough to seem infinite.
The table below shows the type of bankroll one needs for cash games online:
|$0.01 / $0.02||$2||$40 to $80|
|$0.05 / $0.10||$10||$200 to $400|
|$0.10 / $0.25||$25||$500 to $1,000|
|$0.25 / $0.50||$50||$1,000 to $2,000|
|$0.50 / $1.00||$100||$2,000 to $4,000|
|$1.00 / $2.00||$200||$4,000 to $8,000|
|$2.00 / $5.00||$500||$10,000 to $20,000|
Set a Stop Loss
None of us sit down to the tables expecting to lose, but the reality is that every session does not go as planned. You need to plan for those instances so that they do not decimate your bankroll.
A stop-loss is a loss limit that you place on yourself for a session. In limit poker, this is typically 30 big bets. For no limit players, a typical stop loss is either 3 or 4 buy-ins. When you hit your stop-loss, you walk away from the game.
A stop-loss helps keep players from losing large portions of their bankroll when they are running bad, not playing at their best or the games are bad. Sometimes you will be forced to walk away from a good game to protect your bankroll but at least you will be able to come back and play another day.
Don’t Monitor Your Balance
If you’re following the first rule and playing with a legit bankroll, thenyou’re in little-to-no risk of going broke.
You play poker with chips, not money. You can’t think about the money you’re playing the game with as it’s completely irrelevant.
With checking the amount of your online poker bankroll as easy as clicking a button, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of micro-managing your poker account.
When you’re on an upswing, every time you check your balance you feel good.
The number goes up, so does your spirits.
But it only takes one beat to make that number go down. A lot. And if you’re still checking your balance, seeing that smaller number will make you feel bad.
You want it back to where it was and you want it back immediately.
As soon as you have that thought, you’ve started “chasing your losses.” You’re going to start forcing your play to get back to where you think you should be.
This can be the first step towards total self destruction.
Typically in poker, making money is a slow grind and losing money is a quick drop.
If you’re watching your balance, you’ll fall into the depression of “a week’s work lost” or “It will take me a week to get back what I just lost in an hour.”
The only way to get it back fast is to jump limits and take a shot at a big score.
This breaks rule #1, and is the first step to going broke.
A guaranteed way to destroy your bankroll is playing while on tilt. Every poker player is prone to tilt at the poker table. Tilt triggers are different for each player and the first step in combating tilt is recognizing your own.
Many tilt triggers are standard, such as taking a horrific beat, while others build over time. When a player goes on tilt, they are much more likely to raise in bad spots, call a big raise with inferior hands or make other inexplicable plays.
Taking regular breaks will help combat tilt as it allows you to get your mind on something other than poker. Going on short walks every hour can improve circulation, reduce stress and improve concentration.
When you recognize that you’re beginning to go on tilt, it’s time to take a break from the game. Logoff or sit out a few minutes until you’ve calmed down and then resume your game. If you find that you’re unable to get back to playing your A-game, it may be time to quit for the day. The games will be there tomorrow and walking away can help save your bankroll.
Treat the Game Seriously
When you’re playing poker for real money, every session, pot and decision matters. Even the smallest of mistakes costs you money.
The more money you lose from mistakes, the harder it becomes to generate profit and keep from going broke.
Ease into Multi-Tabling
Online poker offers players the chance to improve their overall win rate through multi-tabling. However, many beginning players jump right into multi-tabling and wind up decimating their bankrolls.
First, you need to decide whether you can competently multi-table. If you are a player that tilts frequently, is easily distracted or has trouble with split-second decisions, then multi-tabling may not be for you.
Once you decide that you’re ready to multi-table, here are a few keys to success:
1. Drop down in stakes while you get used to multi-tabling. Some players experience variance while developing their multi-tabling skills and dropping down in stakes helps to combat this.
2. Start slowly. Begin with two tables and once you are comfortable with two tables, move up to three tables and so on.
3. Don’t mix poker variants. Each form of poker has its own set of rules and strategy. For example, you don’t want to play PL Omaha while playing Texas Hold’em. This can lead to mistakes when players mix up which game they’re playing.
4. Play a table or two less than your maximum. If you find that you can play five tables competently, you may want to drop back to four or even three. This will allow you to give each table proper focus and can help improve your overall win rate.
Pay Attention to Your Human Needs
Trying to build a bankroll is an exciting prospect and some will focus on the task to the exclusion of everything else. Keep in mind that you are human and have needs that need to be met in order to play your best.
Don’t play poker when you’re hungry. Your body is a machine and needs fuel to operate. When you’re not eating, you are prone to make poor decisions. It can also lead to fatigue and even tilt.
Make certain that you have a workspace conducive to playing poker. Invest in an ergonomic chair and keyboard for maximum comfort. Also, make sure that your computer equipment is adequate for your needs. This means making sure you have a monitor of sufficient size and resolution, a PC or Mac that will easily handle your gaming requirements and reliable internet.
Don’t play poker when you’re tired. You will not play your best game and will lose money. If you’re tired, logoff and go to bed.
Playing poker when you’re mentally distracted will lead to disaster. Mental distractions come in many forms and take away from your ability to play your best poker. If there is anything else on your mind other than playing poker, logoff.
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