Looking after your bankroll is a very important part of your poker game play. As always you should never gamble with money you can not afford to lose – so you should be looking to apply the same common sense to your bankroll both on and offline.
First of all you should be asking yourself why you play poker in the first place. Is it to make money? Is it to improve your game? Is it just for relaxation? Once you understand why you are playing poker then you can begin to manage your funds accordingly.
A simple rule of thumb to remember is to always have at least 20x your chosen buy-in when you sit down at any poker table. For example, if you have $100 in your account, then do not play any higher than a $5 table (for now, lets not include any registration fees – lets just look at the buy-in price). Whether this be an STT, a cash game or an MTT you should always have at least 20x the buy in.
Good question. Poker is a game of skill based on probability. The skill involved is knowing when to put your money into the pot when you have the best chance of winning. Sometimes even the best laid plans go wrong and you can find yourself losing five, ten or even fifteen games in a row. Its just the way that poker goes. You need to have enough of a buffer in your account to accommodate for these losses should they occur and a 20x buy-in is an adequate size.
If you can stick to this then in theory you should find it difficult to run out of money. As a side effect to this kind of bankroll management, it will also help you to find a correct level for you to play at. If you begin on the $5 tables and find you are winning consistently then your bankroll will increase and allow you to move up to the $10 tables and beyond.
Hot Tip: Use cash winnings to play higher limit tables and face better opponents. Your game will not improve overnight, but poker is not for impatient players. It takes time, experience and dedication to improve yourself and your bankroll.
If it costs you more to sit down at a table, then chances are the opposition will be tougher to beat. This is a good thing. A simple fact of poker is that you will only ever get better by playing opponents who are better than yourself. If you are limiting yourself to playing low limit tables and do not progress up the stakes ladder you will find that although you make a little bit of money from your opponents, your game will barely improve.
You can also use your bankroll to judge your poker abilities over time. If you start off playing $5 tables with a bankroll of $100 and in six months time find yourself with a bankroll of $600 playing $30 tables then you can call this a significant improvement on your game.
You can cash out your winnings from an online poker account at any point you desire. However you have to look at the reasons why you are playing poker. If you do it for the love and the passion and to improve your game I would recommend leaving your money where it is and utilising your winnings to play at the higher limit tables. You will gain more experience quicker by leaving your money in there, rather than cashing out and perhaps having to drop down a buy-in level or two.
If you play just to relax and have a bit of fun, then it is a good idea to set yourself a goal. You might say I will deposit $100 into my account and each time I am up by $100 I will cash it out. This way you will still have a reserve of money to play with and you should be making regular withdrawals.
It is very important that you STICK BY YOUR PLAN. If you reach your goal, then cash out. I fell in to the trap of building up a nice healthy bankroll, and then started playing loose. I then started to get unlucky at the tables. I then went on tilt. I ended up rinsing the account dry.
I couldnt help but feel that if I had cashed out when I hit my target then the reduced money in my bankroll would have forced me to continue playing tight-aggressive poker. Instead a part of me said Hey Vster, take a gamble, youve got a monster bankroll!. Do not listen to this voice. This voice will make you lose.
There is something to be said for the psychology of the size of your bankroll. If you are down to your last dollar, then you will want to be playing tighter than a ducks arse. If you have 100x the buy-in for a game then you may find yourself playing a little more reckless. If your bankroll moves up or down then you should be adjusting your buy-in price accordingly.
In theory. Even if you are down to your last ten bucks you can still afford to go for the 50c games and build your bankroll back up again. Even at this level you are not yet down and out. Do not get tempted to spunk it all on a random No-Limit hand. The best method of recovery is to accept your losses, learn from your mistakes and work your way back up again. In the long run this will make you a better, stronger and more resilient poker player.
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