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Bankroll Management in Poker, by James

Discussion in 'Poker Strategy Articles' started by Admin, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. Admin

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    One question I hear a lot is ‘how many buy ins do I need to move up?’ I get this question every week from someone and I tell them the same response…..’it varies.’ The reason why this is a complicated question is because there are some factors that need to be taken into consideration before setting a plan for yourself. Here are some of the factors:

    - How much does poker money affect your life? Do you rely on it to pay bills? Is it your only source of income? If the answer is yes then naturally the amount of buy ins you require before moving up to the next level is going to be higher because you’re going to play it safer. Whereas, if you have an outside job, you can afford to get more aggressive in setting when to move up stakes

    - How much money you have offline? Again, this is similar to the previous factor as the smaller your income from poker is compared to your net income, the more aggressive you can be with your bankroll management. The last thing you want to do is play a game where you are totally scared money and forced to not be able to play your ‘A’ game because the money matters too much.

    - Have you played higher stakes before? If you have and especially if you have won some there then you can be more aggressive with your bankroll management. You will be already experienced in how the limit plays and bet sizes so there won’t be that need for the period of adjustment.

    - Is your overall goal to improve as a player or just to simply make money? If it’s to improve as a player and become the best you can and as quickly as you can then playing far fewer tables (2-4 tables) you can move up limits much faster. If its solely to make money, then you might be better off improving much slower and multitabling a lower limit and requiring more buy ins before you can move up.

    - There are mental factors as well, such as: How emotionally attached to the money are you? Do you constantly check your cashier page when playing? Are you prone to tilt? Can you set stop losses and stick to them? Do you find yourself playing long hours when you have been losing or are u able to quit and play longer when your winning? DO you chase losses at higher limits or can you stick to a gameplan? Obviously if you have trouble with these then you will need to be more passive in your approach to moving up stakes.

    An example of a safer, more standard bankroll management system for a player who is looking to improve more slowly, whose main goal is to make money, who likes to multitable (6+ tables) and who relies mainly on poker for money would be:

    For 6max NL to move up when you have 40 buy ins for the next level and move back down if your bankroll reaches 8 buy ins below the starting level eg. Move to 100nl with 4k and move back to 50nl if bankroll reaches $3200. Also, setting stop losses for the day or session is good practice as well. I wouldn’t recommend a stop loss of over 5 but I know some who do.

    For full ring I would say 30 buy ins is good enough to move up to the next level and moving back down when 5 buy ins under starting level eg. Move to 100nl full ring with 3k and move back to 50nl if bankroll reaches $2500. This depends on how many tables the player plays though since some play a ridiculous amount of tables they will need more buy ins to handle the swings. So the 30 buy ins is based on someone who plays more like 4-8 tables. The key thing here is to take away this point, ‘when you start a new limit you should be playing less tables then you normally play to get used to the limit, bet sizes, take notes on regulars and try to win a few buy ins before increasing amount of tables.’

    The following is an example of an aggressive bankroll strategy where this player’s goal is to simply improve his game as quickly as possible and become the best player he can. He has sufficient money offline to live and pay bills. He can stick to a gameplan and his stop loss settings. He has played and done ok all the way up to 400nl before. The daily stop loss or session stop loss is set at 1 buy in per table (maximum 4). So if 3 tabling then stop loss is -3 buy ins he has to quit for at least the session. Also which is The key to being able to move up aggressively is to setting limits for when to drop back down levels.

    This example will be for short handed no limit.

    Our player has a bankroll of 2k: starts at 100NL 3 tabling to get used to the regulars and make lots of notes on them. After winning a few buy ins he starts 4 tabling. His goal is to win 20 buy ins. He will drop back to 50nl if bankroll reaches $1500.

    4k BR: Moved to 200nl. Again starting off 3 tabling to get acclimatised to the new limit raise sizes, how it plays, and noting regulars. After a few won buy ins he then 4 tables. His goal is to win 20 buy ins. He will drop back to 100nl if bankroll reaches $3000.

    8k BR: Our player now has 20 buy ins for 400nl. The same procedure applies regarding amount of tables. His goal is to win 15 buy ins. He will drop back down if bankroll reaches $6000.

    12k BR: move to 600nl. 3 tabling to start again for the same reasons as lower limits and the goal is to win 15 buy ins. He will move back down if bankroll reaches $10.2k.

    21k BR: start 5/10nl.

    So as u can see moving up aggressively requires the ability to also know how to use stop losses and when to move back down limits. And moving back down is fine, you gain knowledge and experience of the next limit. You have to look at it like from a games point of view, you now know what you might need to work on and what has to be done to succeed at the next level and just need to require the points and ambition to try to get there again and this time beat it.

    It’s a good strategy to have a set plan beforehand regarding when to move up stakes. Set up a short to long term plan beforehand and stick 100% to it and you will have success if you are even a marginal winning player. Poker is all about dedication, work ethic and discipline for the majority of players. You need to really take into account he factors mentioned when setting up your plan and be honest with yourself to make sure you decide on the best gameplan for you. If you know you are prone to tilt then be honest and reasonable and go with the safer, higher buy ins per stake approach. You should also be planning a few stakes ahead and definitely have stop losses and know exactly when you are to move down.

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