Building Up A Bankroll And Maintaining It
Whether you are playing live or online, one of the most critical component of a poker player’s toolbox is not how you play Big Chick, whether you slow play your sets or not or your people reading abilities. These particular skills all come with experience on the felt, experimentation and the particulars of the game you’re playing. The one thing that a poker player can control is the size of their bankroll.
Building a bankroll, however, can be an arduous task. Sans having thousands of dollars (or more) to throw around, the management of your poker playing money – and the games that you take said money in to – will determine whether you are successful in the game or spewing off cash like a drunken sailor. But how do you build a bankroll and what do you do once you have it built?
There are three ways that a player can build a bankroll from scratch. These methods are normally reserved for online play, but similar situations can be seen in the real money poker sites. Once you are able to build that wad of cash, the maintenance of it becomes of paramount importance. If you abide by the following suggestions, then bankroll building and management will not be a weak spot in your game.
Building A Bankroll
In the world of online poker, it is possible to build a bankroll without depositing or with only depositing a minimal amount. Many sites offer freeroll tournaments, where players can earn a nice payday for their efforts. These tournaments can be a difficult road, though.
After battling through thousands of players and spending hours of time in the effort, the potential payout will be, in most cases, very minimal. Because of the payout structure, if you win the tournament the payout will normally only be around $100 (and this is for tournaments with large guarantees). For finishing in the money, the payout could be as small as pennies. For those who like to see a better return on their time investment, it may not be the way to go.
A second method that can be used to build a bankroll online is through the sit and go arena. These tournaments, which pay the top three finishers versus the top 10% in a normal multi-table tournament, are an excellent way for players to not only build up a smaller bankroll but also for them to practice final table play. In these tournaments, the 50/30/20 breakdown of the payouts ensure that, even if it is a $1 buy in, there’s a good return for the time and money invested.($5/$3/$2, in this instance).
If you’re not a tournament player and are looking to build up, then a minimal investment is necessary for you to be able to crash the cash games. Even if you start at the smallest tables available online ($.01/$.02 in most cases), through strategic play you can slowly build up a larger bankroll. You do have to spend some time here, however, and you have to resist the urge to move up too quickly, otherwise you will cripple yourself through the poor management of your bankroll. You also must steel yourself against some of the play at these tables as, in many cases, the people here are newcomers to poker.
In the live poker scene, building a bankroll is a bit more difficult and requires a bit more of a financial expenditure. While your usual poker room isn’t going to throw freeroll tournaments every day, many have monthly tournaments for frequent players at the poker room. If you log the number of hours that the poker room is looking for, you can earn your way into these events and potentially take down their profitable bounty as an addition to your poker bankroll.
If, once again, your scene isn’t the tournament poker world, then you have to be able to log some hours – and put some cash down – at the cash games tables. Try to stick with the lowest game presented (in most cases a $1/$2 game) and stay within a set parameter. What works best is going in with a stake and, if you lose that stake, you leave for the day. If you double up your stake, you walk away for the day no matter how long you have played or how you feel about your table. Through this method, you will build the bankroll through excellent management of not only your finances but also your inner self.
Maintaining A Bankroll
At this point, you’ve either been able to build up the bankroll through your outstanding play or you’ve been able to scratch together enough money to have an excellent starting stake. How do you now maintain this stake and make it grow even further? Whether playing online or live, through the usage of these tools you will remain at the tables even if you suffer through a down streak.
Whether you’re playing online or live, you have to look at what games you’re playing. If you are a tournament player (either multi-table or sit and gos in the case of online players), you want to make sure you don’t play in tournaments that will exceed your bankroll requirements. In a perfect situation, you want to maintain 100 times the normal tournament buy in cost. For example, if your game is $5 tournaments online, you would maintain at least $500 in your bankroll; if it is $100 tournaments live, $10,000 is your base amount.
The same theory also works if you are a cash game player, with slightly different numbers. You would look to maintain about ten times what your normal buy in amount is. For example, if you normally are playing a $1/$2 Limit table and buy in with $100, then you would look to maintain $1000 in your poker bankroll (as to live play, you may want to maintain somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 times your normal buy in). These numbers are an accurate reflection of what you should be holding whether you play live or online.
Having said this, most poker players who play recreationally – and even some pros – don’t even come close to these numbers. But one of the biggest mistakes that a player makes is entering into games that far exceed the size of their bankrolls. Be sure to discipline yourself to not use the rationalization, “Well, there aren’t any X games available, so I will move up to the Y games. So what if it takes my entire bankroll to play.” If you use this mentality, that bankroll you have painstakingly built will disappear before you know it.
If you can’t find games in your bankroll size, always MOVE DOWN. Through using this technique, you won’t be stretching outside your bankroll limits. In addition to maintaining your bankroll and avoiding damage to it, you may even be able to take advantage of the players at the lower levels.
The most important thing to remember about building and maintaining a poker bankroll is discipline. There is a great deal of discipline to playing in freerolls and in the smaller tournaments and cash games online to build up the money in the poker account. There is a tremendous amount of grinding you have to do live to be able to slowly build a poker bankroll. There is probably more discipline to maintaining the bankroll, either live or online, once you‘ve reached your magic level, however. To quote Rudyard Kipling, keeping one’s head about them when all others are losing theirs is critical to poker success.