Introduction To Building Your Bankroll
Friday, 19. February 2010

The truth of the matter is, at the end of the day, probably over 90% of players lose money playing poker online over the long run. There a number of factors behind this dubious statistic, primary amongst them are the fees accrued by the online poker rooms, i.e. rake and tournament fees. Under the best of circumstances, online poker rooms take a 3%-5% rake (or fee) on every dollar that you bet in ring games and 5% in tournament fees. Let us say, for example, that you play at ring games where the house takes a 5% rake. This is an additional 5% that needs to be taken into consideration when calculating whether you are a winning player or a losing player. With a rake of 5%, winning 50% of the time is no longer breaking even. In order to break even with a 5% rake, winning 55% of the time is actually the break even point. Rake and tournament fees are always present and there is nothing that you can do about it. The only thing that you can do is focus on the things that are within your control.

Regardless of whether you are a beginner or a professional player, you will have both good days and you will have bad days. This is the main truth that drives the necessity for correct bankroll management. Selection of the table limits you will play at with respect to your bankroll needs to take into consideration that you will have your bad days where you might lose some money. You have to play at limits that won’t bust your bankroll if you have a couple of bad sessions.

As regards Limit Texas Hold’em, the commonly accepted bankroll would be a minimum of 300 big bets. Taking the example of $5/$10 Limit Texas Hold’em, 300 big bets would be $3,000 (300 X $10). Again, this would be the minimum bankroll that you would want to have; many would recommend a bankroll as high as 500 big bets.

It is very important to select ring games and tournaments that are within the limits as defined by your bankroll. Following are some simple guidelines to follow at three different bankroll thresholds:

Bankroll Of Less than $500
With a bankroll of less than $500, you should be playing at the $0.50/$1.00 limit tables or $10 Sit & Go tournaments. As regards Sit & Go’s, I would probably be more inclined to recommend to people working with a bankroll of under $400 to play at the $5 Sit & Go’s if it weren’t for the fact that most poker rooms charge a $1 entry fee to their $5 Sit & Go’s which equates to a 10% rake which is ridiculously high. If you are working with a bankroll of under $400, I still recommend playing at the $10 tables, just be wary.

Bankroll Of $500-$1,000
Bankrolls of between $500 and $1,000 represent a healthy starting point. At this level, it is recommended that you start playing at the $.05/$1.00 tables and $10 Sit & Go’s just to get a feeling for where you stand. If you are feeling comfortable then it’s time to move up to the $1/$2 limit tables. I would recommend that you stick with the $10 Sit & Go’s if your bankroll is closer to the $500 mark. If your bankroll is closer to $1,000, then you could play in the occasional $20 Sit & Go tournament.

Bankroll Of Over $1,000
Well, hello Mr. Highroller! At above $1,000, you are working with a very comfortable bankroll. If you are a beginning player, then I would still recommend starting out at the $0.5/$1 Limit tables and $10 Sit & Go’s. Once you start feeling comfortable and you find yourself earning, then feel free to move up slowly to the point where playing at limits equal to 300 x the big bet, whatever that might be in relation to your bankroll.

Many years ago, when I first started out in sales based on commissions, I had a manager that gave me great advice. They told me that I shouldn’t look at myself as an employee of my company; rather, I should look at myself as a separate entity. In other words, my own bank account should be my total focus in the sense that each sale I should look at how each sale I make and each regular client I pick up contributes to the “me” company rather than how it contributes to whatever company it is that I work for.

In many ways, this is the attitude that one should take with their attitude towards poker. Most online players have the incorrect attitude when approaching bankroll and limits and poker in general. The prevailing attitude is one where people will play at limits determined solely upon the basis of what that person is willing to lose. This is not only a losing strategy but a recipe for destruction in the sense that their goals and the psychology behind their play are based upon acceptable loss. The correct way to view poker should be, first of all, based on winning. One should look at themselves as a corporation where their bankroll represents their investment and their only motivation should be to win money. The level play at the lower limit tables will be relatively low with the level of play increasing relative to the staked limits of each table. If you have a $10,000 bankroll and you find yourself losing at the $1/$2 Limit tables, then the bottom line is that you are still just losing regardless of the fact that losing an average $20 a session is acceptable financially. In this instance, irrespective of one’s bankroll, they should drop down to the $0.50/ $1 Limit level or below, until they find themselves winning. At the end of the day, regardless of how high your bankroll is, you should still play at the Limit level that you find yourself winning. When you find yourself winning, and only when you find yourself winning, it is then that you should consider raising the stakes.

Poker is a game of skill and it takes time to improve. Be patient. If you find that you are playing for a month or two at the lower limits and you are still sustaining long term losses then stay at the lower limits. You may find yourself playing at the micro limits for months or even a couple of years before you start making progress. Make sure that the limits at which you play not only reflects your bankroll, but the level of play you are at.

Never forget, your ultimate goal with poker must reflect the bottom line, winning money. Oh, and having fun in the process, of course!

Full Tilt Poker has an excellent library of tutorial literature as well as all the play money, freeroll tournaments and micro limit games that the beginner needs in order to start building their bankroll.

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