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Poker Bankroll Management for Beginners

Published May 19, 2008 - RSS/XML Feed RSS

Whether it’s a high stakes game in a casino or a competitive battle in an online room, as a poker player, the bankroll is your life support. Without it, you can’t compete for the big pot.Regardless of the facts, many players have yet to recognize the importance of bankroll management.

If your goal is to play poker over an extended period of time, learning how to manage your bankroll is essential. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are; every poker player encounters variance in the cards they receive - meaning you’re eventually going to lose money when you are dealt poor cards.
Proper bankroll management is the one technique that will keep you from going broke, helping you to survive the inevitable streak of bad luck that plagues even the best poker players. More importantly, it will help you learn just when to move up or drop down in stakes.
Establishing the Bankroll
For some, the bankroll is something you just can’t afford to lose. With that said, your bankroll needs to be substantial enough to account for the learning curve - and the harsh reality that no one wins every game. You should never dedicate any money towards poker that you do not feel comfortable parting with. Keeping a roof over your head, taking care of your family, and paying the bills are much more of a priority than poker. If this isn’t your perception, then there is no need to worry about gambling. Chances are you’ll lose your money in a heartbeat and have much bigger problems with which to contend.
Now that we’ve cleared the air, the main idea of bankroll management is to establish and sustain an amount that enables you to play poker indefinitely. You need to have enough money to survive the bad times and enjoy the good ones.
Calculating Your Optimal Bankroll Value
An ideal bankroll amount for beginners is 300 times the size of the largest bet, often termed as the “big blind,” at your level of play. While this may appear to be a huge amount, all seasoned poker players understand this - it doesn’t matter how good you are, everyone hits a losing streak every now and then. For example, if you’re playing Texas Hold ‘Em at $5-$10 stakes with a bankroll of $600, you may find yourself completely wiped out in a matter of one or two bad hands. Now take that same bankroll of $600 to a table with $1 - $2 stakes.Of course there is still a chance of losing a few games, but this extra cushion will allow you to keep playing and build your funds back up. For someone who only has about $60 put aside for poker, we suggest playing stakes that begin around 10 or 20 cents.
Let the Bankroll Dictate the Limits You Play At
Poker gives you the ability to reduce the effects of negative probability over a lengthy run, all made possible by the application of skill and sound bankroll management. If your bankroll falls below your set guidelines and you have to step down a level, so be it. In most cases, you’ll make short work of the competition and replenish your bankroll to a manageable level. Always keep your bankroll at a level where it can be easily repaired.Foolish pride should never be the factor that ends your run.
When you hit a series of bad hands, it may be wise for you to implement the “brakes” on your hands. For example, if you’re playing $1-2 No Limit Poker, it is recommended that you drop down to a $.5-1 game when the bankroll has been depleted to less than $300. While a few players may contest that moving down in limits is unappealing, this is simply an element of the “braking system,” a method of bankroll management that serves many purposes. By competing at only the limits your bankroll can support, you will have the ability to continuously play an aggressive style of poker without the concern of losing money. If anything, it will enable you to restore a bit of confidence by chalking up a few easy wins.

Keep a Mental Edge by Having a Healthy Bankroll
You should never go broke when adhering to the rules of bankroll management. How can you remain comfortable and confident in a poker room if the thought of losing big money is in the back of your head? You can’t. Running low on bankroll will only make you play worse. If you walk into a game with negativity and doubt, more than likely you’ll prompt losing results. Manage your bankroll, and it will allow you to concentrate on winning.
The game of poker involves significant pressure. Being able to successfully manage this level of pressure is critical to winning - something that can’t be achieved if you’re distracted by the constant fear of losing your entire bankroll.
The Final Bankroll Word
The bankrolls of individual poker players vary depending on the circumstances they face in life. All players must ask key questions before determining a bankroll amount that suits them best. There really is no hard science to managing your bankroll; it all translates into discipline. In truth, several mid-level players could easily ascend to higher limits by establishing limits within themselves. If you ever plan to move up in rankings and winnings, learning to manage the bankroll should be at the top of your “to-do list.” Mastering this technique is more valuable than any insurance a player can buy.
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