Poker bankrolls should protect your emotional well being as much as your financial well being. In other words, your bankroll should prevent you from playing scared when you’re going through the inevitable, everyone has them every once-in-a-while runs of bad luck.
Luck is an important factor in poker, equal or almost equal to skill, so you’re bound to have days that your most sterling, brilliant play ever just can’t stop the hemorrhaging of your cash.
To keep your risk at a minimum, you must make sure you have enough money to keep you sane during a downswing. Money management is should be ranked up there as a top priority when you’re playing in a tough game because good bankroll management can get you through the swings and keep you from going broke.
Beginner to intermediate level players should be particularly careful about how they manage their money when they play. Most of the time, newcomers go broke at the table because they become too excited. Playing high limits with insufficient bankroll and insufficient skills is going to lead to problems. That said, as we’ve mentioned, even the best players go broke because they play limits that are too high when they’re clearly having off days.
To avoid these problems and to avoid playing scared – an inevitable result of a depleted bankroll – you should watch your limits like a hawk. If you’re playing too high with too little money – a common occurrence – you’ll be at a major psychological disadvantage through out the game. Before you’re conscious of how you’re thinking, you’ll be bluffed out of your money by playing cheap.
If you decide to play for no limits, you should start the game with at least 100 times the bind. If you want to play $0.25 to $0.50, for example, you should have at least $50 to start.
When you’re experiencing a swing in the wrong direction, be aware that most downward swings, if properly managed, trail off at about 100 points – whether it’s 100 of $0.10 or 100 of $100,000 value depends on your game but take it into consideration. Remember also that you can find your bankroll depleted by 200 points, even 300. What this means is, you need to have the starting bankroll to cover such eventualities. Not only do you need to cover the possibility that you might loose up to 300 points at whatever the value you’re playing, you also need to have enough money in your stack to keep playing with a cool head – easier said than done.
Minimizing your risk depend on understanding the stakes in a particular game. Your method for understanding the stakes could be based on any one of a hundred strategies that have been developed by professional gamblers and enthusiastic poker players alike. The trick is to find the method that works for you – check out a couple of weighty books on poker and you’ll soon come across a few.
However, when it comes to risk minimization and bankroll management, regardless of your game or stakes, these are the rules you should always follow:
Never play scared: a fundamental principle of good poker playing and, incidentally, good gambling. Never play with scared money (your rent, grocery money, or children’s college funds). Never play with more money than you were planning to: do not exceed your initial bankroll because if you have a run of bad luck, you’ll soon find yourself playing scared and losing.
A widely accepted practice amongst gamblers is: never bet more than 5% of your bankroll on a given wager. Poker players often advocate this rule. Again, it’s another method of preserving your sanity during a downswing to minimize the risk. If you can limit your scared play, you may begin to fall into that small percentage of online poker players who make money in the long-run. It’s a sad fact that as many as 90% of online poker players lose money in the long run, primarily due to bad money management.
Here’s some tips on how to manage your bankroll online by controlling your stakes:
All players: Never open an online account with less than $150.
Limit players: If you have $200 or less as your starting bankroll, your stake limit should be around $0.5-1.00 and around $5 if you’re playing Sit and Go Tournaments.
If you have between $500 and $900, you should still play $0.5-$1.00 as a safety. Only when you know the competition and have a few hundred in your pocket should you start playing at $1.00 -$2.00 limit; Sit and Go Tournaments you can play at $10.
No-limit players: To play no-limits online and manage your bankroll properly, you should buy into a game at 100 times the Big Blind (BB) and your bankroll should be at least 20 buy-ins of 100 BBs. If you’re playing $0.10-$0.25, you should buy in for $25 and your bankroll should include 100 x 20 x $0.25 = $500.
To play $0.5-$1.00, following the same guidelines, you should enter the game at $50 and have a bankroll of at least $1000.
Sticking to these guidelines should help you play safe and will thereby reduce the risk you’re playing at.