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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Thoughts on Bankroll Management

Well my sorry excuse of an internet connection is down again, so I figured it would be a good time to write a blog. I'm just writing it in notepad and saving it until I can get online again to publish it, so no telling when that will actually be. (Edit: It was 5 hours later!)

I have still been playing a lot of poker lately and been having pretty good results. The games on FeltStars have been very good lately, with lots of loose action and bad calls. I have experimented playing a little bigger, mixing some 2/4, 3/6, and 5/10 in with my standard 1/2 games with mixed success. I'm not doing bad, but my hourly is no where near what it is when I 8-12 table the 1/2 games. I'm sure in time, once I see more hands and get used to the flow better, I will excell at those limits and surpass my current winrate. Until then, I just have to keep grinding the 1/2 games and mix in a few higher stakes ones until I really start to feel comfortable there.

This poses a good question concerning bankroll management for people who play or are considering playing for a living. Some people have lots of gamble in them, and others (like myself) don't. So, when to move up in stakes? Well, I think it is a very loose question with no definitive answer. The "book" states 200-500 big bets for limit poker as an adequate bankroll. When I played limit for a living, many moons ago, I leaned more towards 300 big bets plus 6 months living expenses on the side. By playing a little shorter than the 500 big bets, I of course had to deal with bigger swings in my bankroll. What saved me was that I was more than willing to drop down in limits if need be. This style may suit some but not others. If you don't like the idea of dropping down in limits after a few losing sessions, then I would recommend using 500 big bets and 6 months living expenses on the side as a proper bankroll. But then again, why am I talking about playing limit for a living?? I'm assuming anyone taking the time to read this plays much more No Limit than Limit!

No Limit poker is a different animal than Limit is. When discussing bankroll and bankroll management for no limit there are several schools of thought. No specific "bankroll" is correct for everyone. It is best to look at the different bankroll guidelines and decide which is right for you. The general rule that Andy Bloch gave me several years ago when speaking with him was 40 buy ins for live poker plus living expenses. Assuming you play $2-$5 NL with a $500 buy in, I would make sure you have $20k bankroll plus 6 months living expenses in reserve. This will give you a great shot at succeeding in poker (assuming you are already a proven winning player with minimal "life" leaks). Do you need this amount? Of course not. I have friends who have no problem playing these limits on a $5k bankroll with no living expenses behind. Does this mean they can't make it? Nope. All it means is that their "risk of ruin" is higher, meaning they have a higher chance of going broke and being out of the game if they run bad than the guy who is playing the same limits on the $20k + living expense bankroll. Some very well known players like Durrrr and Phil Galfond have admitted to taking shots early in their career, sometimes even with 25%+ of their bankroll in one sitting. It worked for them. For countless others though, this was an avenue to financial ruin and even an early end to what could have been a prominent career in poker.

My general bankroll rules, the ones that work best for me, are somewhere in the middle. When it comes to online I am very conservative, often playing with a 400 buy in bankroll for a specific limit. I am also willing to take shots at times with 50-75 buy ins, but I know that if it doesnt go well I have no problem dropping down to my normal stakes the following day. But in general, I feel very comfortable playing with 100 buy ins. I would suggest online players have a minimum of 50 buy ins when multi-tabling just to endure the swings and make life easier. Of course, it can (and I have been guilty of this) be done with less buy ins, but I think trying to sucessfully multi-table with less than 20 buy ins is asking for trouble.

As I stated over and over, these are just general guidelines and the ones that I use, but you need to experiment and see where you feel comfortable. No matter which route you take, make sure that you are a proven winning player who can handle the pressure of working for days, weeks, months, or even a year without making money. If the thought of that makes your stomach turn, you may want to continue using poker as a hobby rather than a sole means of income. Also, if you just use poker as a hobby and have a normal 9-5 job, then throw these considerations out the window. Play whatever you want and feel comfortable playing, but like with any other type of gambling, only bring to the table what you can afford to lose.

As always, join me on the tables at FeltStars. Click on any of the banners on my sidebar to create an account and email me at for rakeback deals. Use bonus code BootnTee for a 300% deposit bonus up to $3000. Many new promos as well as multiple deposit and withdrawal options in our new updated cashier system.

Til Next Time....

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