Having your finances in place to bankroll your poker games sounds simple enough, right? Yet, for some reason, even the best players can make this rookie mistake and go broke. Why? They wouldn’t walk into a restaurant and order something they couldn’t afford to pay for, or book a lavish holiday to somewhere exotic a week before payday when their bank balance is close to its limit. No, they wait until there’s enough cash to pay for everything.
The simple fact is that not everyone is good with money. And poker requires a financial strategy besides a play strategy. If you take the game seriously, don’t let the dream of legendary wins motivate you entirely, an important part of being a successful poker player involves bankroll. Without it there is no game.
Bankroll management in poker has no room for pride
If you’ve just started to get in your groove and are winning more than losing, you’re going to be itching to play with the big boys in high stakes games. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you keep everything balanced and know when to walk away or when you can throw more cash in the pot, it’s fine to dream big.
Remember the proverb: pride comes before a fall. In other words, keep your ego in check. Poker was around long before you existed and will likely continue after you’ve gone. Nobody cares if you blow your life savings and lose your home. But if you view money management in poker as a fundamental part of your strategy, you won’t take any hits you can’t handle.
Money management for poker players: following good advice
There’s a lot of good advice available for anyone who wants to push their game up a notch. Not everything works for everyone, and there are variables to consider too. Obvious influences include player ability, knowing different game rules and paying attention, especially when playing poker online. Don’t forget Lady Luck, she picks her favourites, and it’s not always you, though it will be some days.
Needless to say, drinking a full fridge of beer (and whatever else might be on offer if you turn game play into a poker party with your mates) will have adverse effects on your judgement. Otherwise, the way has already been carved for bankroll best practice.
Follow the 5% rule and bankroll management for poker games is easy
There are a few angles on setting limits, but the 5% rule is one option. Without limits, regardless of how awesome you are, sooner or later you will run out of cash; statistically, that’s a fact. To increase your bankroll throughout your poker career and become a professional player, you should use less than 5% of your roll for each table. This means if you have a seriously bad run, you can take it on the chin.
Changing gears: switching from high to low stakes games
If you were driving a fast car and were low on fuel, you wouldn’t push your foot to the floor and burn through it, would you? Nope. You’d freewheel downhill when you could and use as little fuel as you could to get you home safe. Only when you’re on the home straight with juice to burn, do you floor it. Following the 5% rule, you can still play poker, just move up and down the buy-in stakes accordingly.
Don’t become obsessed with your balance either, it will only distract you. If you’re organised, then there’s room to enjoy playing the game; because that’s all it is, a game.
Knowing when to cut your losses means you’re smart
Remember the restaurant scenario and the label of Rookie? When you know you’re at your limit, it’s smart to walk away. If you blow everything you have based on your gut or some stupid display of ego to a player who’s got your back up or who you admire, it’s game over.
Half the battle involves psychology
What’s better: sitting comfy knowing you can take a bad run of five or so games, or feeling anxious knowing you’ve gambled everything? If you are confident and can roll with the punches, your psyche won’t trick you into a spiral of doom. To quote one of the fathers of psychology is to say: I think therefore I am. If your inner voice is saying, “I’m screwed if I lose.” Chances are you probably will. A Healthy bankroll equals a winning mindset.