Playing in your “profit zone”

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JGiles | Poker Articles, Poker Bankroll Management

My name (at least my online poker name is JGiles) … perhaps we have met at the tables and I have taken some of your money or you have taken some of mine? Whether we are meeting for the first time here or not, any time we interact at Poker Bankroll Blog it will be for an entirely different purpose than if we were to meet at a table. When we meet here it will be for open and honest exchange of thoughts, theories and discussion on all things poker. Hopefully you will learn something from me and I look forward to learning from you. I will be posting on this site every Tuesday so if you like my style, bookmark this page and come back often. Of course, there’s a lot happening on this site so whether you like my style or not, if you love poker you should be coming here regularly and getting involved.

Now to the topic of today’s post, playing in your “profit zone”.

Most knowledgeable players will tell you that you should only play in tournaments or cash games where the buy-in represents not more than 5% of your bankroll. More conservative players might even say you should have 40 times the buy-in in your bankroll before sitting down at any table. That means you do not play in a $5 tournament or bring $5 to a cash table unless you have at least $100 in your bankroll, or $200 if you are on the more conservative side. Got that? Pretty easy to understand, right? I hope so because if that math is tough for you then poker might not be your “thing”.

So, if I gave the worst poker player you have ever played against $200 and let them loose on $10 online tournaments how do you think they would do? They would be following the 5% rule, at least for the first game. I suspect they would do rather poorly. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I know they would do poorly. Sure, everyone gets lucky now and then but that $200 would be turned into nothing in a hurry.

My point is that the 5% guideline is there to keep you from risking too much of your bankroll at any one point, which is wise to say the least. However, it`s just as important to remember to play in your profit zone. What’s your profit zone? It’s the level (buy-in) where you can make money and build your bankroll consistently. Some people are so bad that they flat out don’t have a profit zone, you can only go so low after all, but assumig you’re not in that category then stick to the 5% rule and stick to a buy-in that’s profitable. If you are consistently making money playing $5 tournaments and you build up your BR to the point where you can play $10 tournaments (using the 5% rule) then by all means do. But if you are not ready to make that jump and the players at that level eat your lunch, then get back to your profit zone and keep working on your skills before you try the jump again.

Why do people play in games they aren’t good enough for yet? Here are some of the reasons I think people do that, if you can think of others then please let me know and I’ll add them. If you recognize any of these in yourself and make some adjusments as a result, then my job is done … your bankroll is already in safer hands. If this is not a problem area for you, come back next week, hopefully I’ll have something for you.

People play in games beyond their skill level, buy-in level and outside their profit zone because:

  • They are attracted to the potential of the one big pay off
  • They think they’re a better poker player than they really are
  • They think anyone can get lucky once
  • They figure the fastest way to recoop money lost at the lower levels is to win one big game
  • They think poker is a game of pure chance
  • They think they play better when up against better opponents (ie. fewer donkeys)
  • They have more money than brains

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3 Comments to Playing in your “profit zone”

September 2, 2008

Came to think of a few more points to your list:
– Not playing your A-gaming. You can be a winning player when you player at your best, but loosing when you are not focused.
– Playing with “scared” money, hence scared to loose money.
– Watching tv, surfing porn, Messenger, not being there etc…


September 3, 2008

Good points Phillip, I agree that all of these represent reasons poker players `leak`money from their bankrolls.

A couple points, if you`re not on your A-Game, take a break, one of the great (and bad) things about online poker is that it is always there and there`s always another game going.

I love your point about playing `scared money`, if youre aftraid to lose … you`re done. ` When I came up with the title of this post `playing in your profit zone` I almost called it playing in your comfort zone` because of the great point you make about playing scared.

If you`re playing poker online the LAST thing you should be doing is surfing porn. If you`re serious about your bankroll you have to learn to minimize distractions, some sessions you won`t be in the zone, that happens to everyone, cash out and come back when you`re done with whatever is distractng you.

[…] to Anders and JGiles for providing some of the material for the […]

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