If you're a serious online poker player from Down Under – or even if you're a newbie getting used to this exciting world – you'll need to start thinking about your bankroll. How much have you got? How much of it do you risk at any one time? And what are you going to do if you go busto?
These are all important considerations when planning out your online poker career, and if you think bankroll management doesn't apply to you, think again. So, don't be a drongo – follow our pro's nuggets of wisdom and you'll make your online poker life just that little bit easier.
What is my poker bankroll?
IIt's simply the amount of money you use to play poker with, whether it's for online multi-table tournaments or live cash games. Bankrolls don't have to be huge, but they should offer you enough buy-ins to make it worthwhile. But making it worthwhile is all about bankroll management...
What is Bankroll Management?
Every player goes on a bad run – even the big name pros like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu – and managing your roll is essential to cater for those times when that idiot keeps sucking out on you on the river, or the one-outers just keep hitting...and hitting...and hitting.
Every player – even the best pros – needs to learn to "play within your bankroll", and that means sticking to limits that suit both your skill level and your available money. If you start playing with decent players who are likely to clean you out, you're playing outside your bankroll, but play conservatively at manageable limits, and against poor players over whom you have an edge, your roll will be much healthier in the long-term.
Why Can't I Take a Shot at the Bigger Levels?
Well, there's nothing to stop you – go right ahead! But you won't be around for long, and pretty soon your opponents will be off enjoying your money and entering those big buy-in tourneys. Poker is so full of variance – or swings – that even good players can lose just as much as they win. Every player, irrespective of ability, will experience variance in their game. Bankroll management is in place to deal with this variance and allow you to continue playing without going broke.
As for the money you play with, make sure it's cash you're comfortable with losing. Never play with money you can't afford to lose, as the risk of going busto will weigh so heavily on your mind you won't be able to focus properly on your own game.
What Are Good Formulas for Bankroll Management?
OK, so we've established that even top players need some kind of money management system. But if you're an online Aussie player, what are the general amounts we're talking about? Well, as a rule of thumb, for No Limit Texas Hold'em you'd be looking at around 20-25 buy-ins for a game. That raises to 40-50 buy-ins for Sit 'n' Gos and tournaments.
What does that mean in essence? Well, 20-25 buy-ins is 20-25 times the full buy-in where you're playing. So, let's say you're playing a 50c/$1 cash game, where the maximum buy-in is $100 to sit down. Your bankroll for that game is $2,000-$2,500. And that's for ONE TABLE. Obviously that rate will go up the more tables you play.
For tournaments, SNG players playing $20 tourneys regularly should have a bankroll of $800-$1000 or thereabouts.
Sounds a lot, right? That's why so many online players never practise proper bankroll management. They look at the buy-in only, see if they can afford it, and go for it. Pretty soon they're down a few hundred bucks and are cleaned out. Starting at micro-stakes may be dull, but it will teach you prudent bankroll management long-term.
When Should I Move Up a Stake Level?
Hold your horses, mate. Just because you cashed in three Sit 'n' Gos in a row doesn't mean you should be planning to take on "Isildur1" on the nosebleed stakes just yet. Keep things slow. If you have more than 20 buy-ins for the limit above the one you're on, it makes sense to move up to that limit if you feel you can beat it. Just be sure to drop back down to the lower limit if you experience significant losses.
On the other hand, what happens if you have a really bad run of form? If you've thrown away over 20 buy-ins, then consider dropping down a level or two and building up your roll again. It will also concentrate your poker skills into not making the same mistakes again. Once you have the confidence back, switch up levels again.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with 'taking a shot', of course. Every once in a while, try out a big buy-in event just to see what the level of competition is like, and how it differs to the games you regularly play. It can be fun but don't treat it like a regular gig.
How Does Bankroll Management Differ Online and Live?
The main difference between live and online play is in the volume of hands you can play at any one time, and also the standard of the players.
Let's take the first notion – that online you may be playing more than one table at a time. If you're a cash game player sitting with 20 buy-ins at just one cash table, imagine doubling that for every extra table you want to play at.
However, in a live casino you'll only be playing at one table during a session, unless you're somehow multi-tabling across the gaming floor (and that may not go down too well with your fellow players). You'll then be playing fewer hands live, winning less, possibly, but also losing less too. Consider then reducing your bankroll slightly if you're a live player.
Next - the general standard of player. Live cash games and tournaments can attract weaker, more recreational players in a casino who are there to have fun and gamble, so you may be able to make decent pots and results opposed to the games online.
However, if you find yourself on a bad run live, dropping down stakes could prove tough to handle as you'll only be playing the one table at those new low stakes.
How Else Can I Boost My Bankroll?
Most online poker rooms open to Australian players will schedule freerolls that give away a little cash in the way of prizes. This means you can add a few dollars here and there to boost your online bankroll – all good for that push for the bigger stakes.
Consider signing up for a decent deposit bonus too – you can find details of exclusive promo deals on these pages – where you will earn a healthy cash bonus just for playing a decent amount of hands. Make sure you set yourself reasonable targets when activating a bonus – you will sometimes have to play through hundreds of hands to earn a little cash, so work out if it's right for you before you commit.
Don't Mix Your Bankroll With Your Living Expenses
Everyone's been there: you've taken down a big cash hand or MTT and you're feeling rich. What better way to spend your new-found wealth than to splash out on some new clothes or pay off a bit of that credit card bill? Right?
Wrong. Withdrawing your funds to use in your 'real life' means you'll have less to play poker online with and soon you'll lose track of what you have left online.
Always try to keep your poker and your everyday cash separate. Consider opening a separate bank account too, so you can deposit from and cashout to that account whenever you play poker: it will be easier in the long-term to keep track of your money and reduces temptation to go out and spend your winnings on frivolous items.