Part of becoming a great player is using the right principles for managing your poker bankroll. You need to not only be a skilled player, but also develop discipline and money management skills. The best players go broke sometimes. Even Doug Polk, Upswing himself, once felt that he had reached a dangerous brink. But what separates stories like him from those of gamblers who never hit the highest stakes?
Many potentially great players never raise their stakes because they never build up a poker bankroll - and while they know how to manage a bankroll, they lack the discipline to do it right. Before you can grow your bankroll, you need to start somewhere. Choosing an amount to start with is similar to choosing an investment amount in the stock market or in any other financial enterprise, unless you are investing your own funds.
You need to be strict about the amount you decide to invest. If your initial attitude is, "I'll start at $ 2,000, but I can just reboot when I need it," then you are setting yourself up for failure. The assumption that you can constantly reload your bankroll is a sign that you lack the discipline to actually build it. No financial advisor will tell you to invest 100% of your net worth in the stock market and it would be reckless to assume that you can afford it. You shouldn't treat poker differently.
Another reason your bankroll is considered an investment is because you play your best when you value every decision. Setting the right amount of risk and sticking to it will help you make effective decisions.
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Look for the games with the lowest rake and do not move between different types of games. It is very difficult to beat a specialist in any format, and you want to be such a specialist. Taking risks playing games without knowing your edge is a luxury that most bankrolls cannot stand. And in case your bankroll goes down, it's nice to know that you have an edge in the format you play in.
Also, remember to consider the level of the players / the softness of the games. Find a game that also has playable rake and / or rakeback. Sure, this can be tricky in today's online landscape, but it's not impossible. Low to medium stakes MTTs, for example, are usually soft wherever you play, and you can find many options with reasonable rakes. This is where it gets harder to stay disciplined. You may want to raise rates when things go well (or even when things go wrong). After all, why not analyze your train of thought when you win in a regular game? And when things aren't going well, a quick win in a bigger game could make a difference, right?
Before you realize, your bankroll will diminish if you don't follow a disciplined strategy. Never play outside your bankroll. None of the players see themselves at the micro level, but if this is where your journey begins, so be it.
The tough question is, "How do I know when my bankroll is ready for higher stakes?" The answer to this question depends on the game you choose. For example, multi-table tournaments (MTTs) are a format with much more variance than cash games. Winning big in MTT does not mean that you should automatically raise your bets. If you specialize in MTTs, you will need to adjust your bankroll for MTT variance. Generally, the higher the variance of your game type, the more purchases you should have in your bankroll. Accounting for variances includes determining the skill level of the player pool. More experienced players have more differences. The higher the rates, the higher the variance (usually). The more MTT players there are, the higher the variance.
Please note that the variance of live cash games is lower and therefore does not require as many purchases as online cash games. I recommend 20-40 buy-ins for live games, but be prepared to cut rates even if there is a slight decline. Again, it is important to consider the variance for the format you choose. The higher the variance, the greater the need for a contingency plan, and therefore a larger bankroll will be needed. You may need to increase the above numbers when you raise your rates.
It is very important to know when to move down in rates during a downturn. Discipline is important here, but also humility. Nobody wants to admit that they need to go down the stakes, but sometimes the best thing to do is to restore the bankroll.
In August 2016, Doug Polk announced a poker bankroll with the goal of turning $ 100 into $ 10,000. In the first few months, Doug often got things done, but progress has slowed since then. Doug now streams bankroll sessions from time to time and will likely not complete the task anytime soon. However, Doug was able to increase his $ 100 to $ 1,364 in 40 sessions. During these challenging sessions, he explained and demonstrated the principles discussed above.
Define your bankroll and treat it like an investment (Doug decided to start with just $ 100, which gave him 50 buy-ins for NL2 and 100 buy-ins for $ 1 tournaments and Sit & Go tournaments.) Find out what games you want to play. After several days of testing different formats, Doug decided that his strong point was tournaments, in particular Sit & Go tournaments, although he is a heads-up at heart.
After playing micro stakes cash games to start the trial, he concluded that the rake was too high to maintain a satisfactory win rate. Moreover, the regulars on Twitch chased him to be able to play against him at a discount. This made it clear that tournaments were his best bet to survive.
Play within your limits. Doug began the test with the intention of staying within his own limits, but he soon realized again why the limits were there. Doug got bored of the micro-limits and took some pictures. Some paid off well, but one threatened his hopes of completing the trial. He started competing in NL2 cash games and slowly but consistently increased his stakes. After the rake in cash games was too fierce to continue, he switched to tournaments. His reasoning was correct as he had a big advantage over every average heads-up, but variance had his number. After an unsuccessful streak, he ended the session with a $ 269 loss, losing nearly 75% of his bankroll at the time.
Doug showed Twitch viewers an important lesson. The rental game almost cost him his entire bankroll. Of course, for Doug, this was just a short-term experiment. Such audacity with your constant bankroll can cost you everything.
Pay attention to the poker charts (picture above) - this is an online service that allows players to manage their bankroll and analyze the results on their website. Keep in mind that this is a paid service with a free trial. If you prefer a simple approach to tracking, there are many free bankroll spreadsheets available online. Anyone who knows how to create one of these spreadsheets allows users to freely record and share their progress online. Whether you want to make a sign yourself or use someone else's, here are some models provided by Microrollers.com
- Cash Game Poker - Spreadsheet bankroll management. Divide your bankroll by cash game type. It is compatible with any playing time, whether full ring, short or heads-up, limit, no-limit or pot-limit. It can also help you decide when to raise bids by tracking your progress towards your goals.
- Multi-table bankroll management standings in pokere... Just like the cash game spreadsheet, this variation is designed to help you decide when to raise your bets. This is useful as tournament variance can fool you too early.
Remember the tips we discussed today, and remember that your success doesn't depend on your poker skills alone. With the necessary knowledge of how to properly manage your bankroll, you must remain disciplined and stick to the rules.