Bankroll Management

Whether you’re a rank amateur or a veteran to the game, without using proper bankroll management skills, it can be very easy to go broke before you know it. Skill is the most defining aspect of the game, but luck is still a factor. Any long-time gambler will tell you that streaks of luck go both ways and the psychological struggle of dealing with a run of bad cards has led many players astray. Therefore, it’s very important to have a strict set of rules in place when dealing with your hard earned money.

Christiaan Huygens was a 17th century Dutch mathematician that came up with a theorem entitled Gambler’s Ruin. Basically, it states that a gambler with a finite bankroll who plays in a fair game against an opponent with an infinite bankroll, will eventually go broke. If you relate this to online poker, then you, the player with a finite bankroll, will eventually go broke against the infinite bankroll of the rest of the world – even in a fair game – unless you take precautionary measures.

Bankroll Management for Beginners

Chris “Jesus” Ferguson is a well-known Full Tilt Poker pro that created an excellent bankroll strategy for beginners – especially if you are starting from scratch. It has three simple rules to follow:

  • Never buy into a cash game or sit & go with more than 5% of your total bankroll
  • Never buy into a multi-table tournament with more than 2% of your total bankroll
  • If at any point during a cash game session you find yourself sitting with more than 10% of your entire bankroll, you must stand up just before the blinds next reach you.

If you want a true test of patience, try to complete Ferguson’s $0 to $10,000 Challenge. It may take you a few years to complete depending on the amount of time you have to play, but it is an excellent course in discipline for a casual player. To get an early advantage, look for promotional freerolls that have large prize pools with smaller playing fields.

Snyder’s Bankroll Fudge Formula

If you are a more established player and regularly profit playing poker then you can make the move to a less strict set up rules. In his book The Poker Tournament Strategy, Arthur Snider suggests using the following formula to mimic the results of determining the standard deviation a skilled player would witness playing tournaments with variable field sizes:

(Total Cost of Tournament * Square Root of Player Field Size) * 2

For example, let’s say you want to play in $150 game that has 400 players registered. [$150 * (Square Root of 400)] * 2 = ($150 * 20) * 2 = $6,000 requirement bankroll.

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