Bankroll Management by Steve

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Jeffrey | Poker Articles, Poker Bankroll Management

Submitted by Steve, this article is part of the Poker Bankroll Management series

Besides playing too many starting hands for their own good, online poker beginners usually commit another – extremely frequent – mistake: they play on bankrolls way too flimsy to support the limits on which they’re trying to make money. Playing under bankrolled can ruin an otherwise good player’s monthly revenue too, let alone that of a player who’s only just begun exploring the intricacies of the game. Here’s why:

Texas Hold’em is a game of relatively high short term variance. What this means in layman terms is that experienced players and rookies will do battle from relatively equal footings on a per hand basis. The luck factor gets a bigger role than in other games and that acts as a big equalizer often upsetting the pros in favor of the beginners. This however is an extremely deceitful image: over the long-run, skill always prevails over luck and the gamblers are bound to get felted.

Suppose you’re a good player and you only have a very small bankroll to play on. The variation may well get to you and bust you completely before you ever get the chance to impose the advantage your skill lends you.

If you play on an adequately large bankroll however, you’ll be able to emerge after bad beats and with the positive EV provided by your sills and discipline, you’ll turn a profit at the end of the month.

The big question is: just how big is an “adequately large” bankroll? – and it may be more difficult to answer than one would think at first glance.

In order to accurately determine the size of bankroll that would back you up well at the green felt, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

First of all: what is the game of poker for you? Is it just a small time hobby, is it your biggest hobby, is it an obsession or is it what you do for a living?

If it’s just a small-time hobby and you only spend a few hours playing poker in a year, you shouldn’t really worry yourself about bankroll issues at all: you do not need one. In this case, your primary reason for playing is obviously not to make money, but rather to have some fun, fun which you’re probably willing to pay for too.

If poker is more like a hobby for you, you’ll need the equivalent of 2-5 buy-ins for the limit on which you play. This bankroll will be enough to cover your expenses for 1 month’s worth of play, but it sure won’t be enough to carry you through bad swings. Then again, if you treat poker as a hobby, your objective will probably not be to make money on it, and therefore you will not feel the need to have your bankroll carry you through times of bad beats.

If poker becomes your obsession, and you realize you’re in it for the money, you’ll need a legitimate bankroll, one that will carry you through downswings. In this case, due to the fact that you’ll be playing much more often, you’ll need a bankroll of about 10 buy-ins. At this stage, you probably have a separate source of income, so that will come in handy to bail you out if things misfire completely.

Of course if you’re an online poker player you will need a slightly bigger roll of about 15 buy-ins, because of the bigger number of hands per hour you’ll be playing at the virtual tables.

If you’re thinking about going pro, about making a living playing poker, you’ll have a whole host of different factors to consider. You’ll have to take a really serious look on the life you’re currently living and assess whether you’ll be able to maintain or even improve (depending on your goals) your current living standards. You’ll have to take your rent, loan, mortgage and other expenses into account, and you’ll also have to consider the fact that you may act differently at the table when your rent is riding on the pot you’re striving to secure.

As a pro, you’ll need a much bigger bankroll, one that is rather intricate to accurately determine. Regardless of whether you’re a weekend player or a professional however, you should never play a single hand without rakeback. Rakeback will yield a constant trickle of revenue, one which – if you’re a high stakes player – will quickly turn into a steady flow.

You could be posting your articles on the Poker Bankroll Blog. Read all about it here.

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2 Comments to Bankroll Management by Steve

October 17, 2008

Hi Steve

It seems there is some controversy about the amount of buyins required for solid bankroll management. The 10 buyins you mention in your article for a dedicated poker player are in line with the likes of Steve Lind, but my personal opinion is that it is way too low. I would recommend at least 25 buyins. Do any other of our readers have comments on this subject?

October 17, 2008

I totally agree with you Mark, 10 BIs is way to low for the average player. I personally play with around 25-30 BIs and it still hurts when I hit the downswings. The closer your BI to BR ratio the better the player you need to be to maintain it. If you read the blogs of pros, many feel that a BI to BR ratio closer to 50 allows them to handle pretty much everything without too much worries.

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