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Online Poker - Bankroll Management

Bankroll management in in online poker is an important concept to protect you from a bad run of cards. It is important to play within your bankroll’. After all, if you have no funds, you’re out the game. If you’re out the game, there is no more poker or worse, you end up losing money you can’t afford to lose.


Applying solid bankroll management skills is your way of protecting your investment. You don’t see an investment banker put all his eggs in one basket, why, because if something went wrong and the markets turned, it could wipe him out. Poker is no different. The one difference that does exist in poker is that the ‘markets can turn’ even when you’re playing your A game. As there is an element of luck, all the decisions you make can be the right ones and you still lose. There are no guarantees that as you hold the best hand before the flop, it will hold up at showdown. As a player, there will be times when everything goes your way (known as running good) and other times when you can’t hit anything (known as a bad run). You'll hear players say that they 'went through a bad run' or were 'running like god'. Runs are part of the game.


If you take all your cash to the one table and you hit a bad run, especially when playing no limit games, you have no chance of retaining any funds and the probability of being out the game is pretty high. All it takes is for you to get a few monster hands that are overturned. This will happen and similarly there will be times when you will go in the underdog and come out a winner – this is the element of luck i mentioned previously, and part of what makes the game such a compelling one.

Importance of Poker Variance and Bankroll Management

We already know, poker is a game of skill with an element of luck. In order to run out a winner, you need the right cards to come. If you go all in with an AK Vs your opponents AQ, you are a 72.31% favorite to win the hand. That is that for every 10 times you play the hand, you will lose nearly 3 times (on average). Variance simply describes the ‘ups and downs’ associated with poker (the part that is luck). This is important to understand, as if you had your full bankroll at the table and went all in with your AK, even if you were up against AQ every time, you are going to go broke eventually – the odds say so. You need to protect your bankroll so that you limit the impact of variance.


Choosing your Limits – the theory

There is a very good saying – ‘Limits are there to be broken’. Very admirable in the real world, however don’t adopt this mind set for poker. Limits are there to protect you. Here is a quick guide as to safe limits that you could adopt.


Limit Games – you should take your total bankroll and divide it by 300. This should be the maximum limits you should play. If you have a bankroll of £300 (or $300) – then you shouldn’t be playing anything higher than £0.50-£1 blinds (or $0.50-$1).


Pot Limit / No Limit Games – for Pot Limit and No Limit games you should take your bankroll and divide it by 20. So for the same £300 / $300 that you have you would not play anything with a buy-in over £15 or $15. As a rule of thumb you should have at least 20 times the full buy-in for that game.


Tournaments – for tournaments, you should have at least 40 times the buy-in. The simple way to see what the biggest tournament you should buy into is to divide your bankroll by 40. If you have £2,000 or $2,000, then you should not buy into any tournament priced at more than £50 / $50.

Short Handed Poker / Speed Poker – playing short-handed games or speed poker games will see an increase in variance, as you will be getting through more hands per hour than you would in a full ring game. You should take this into account and may want to allow a larger bankroll (or go for smaller buy-ins for the money you have).


Coming to Terms with loses

If we didn’t have to worry about loses, then this article wouldn’t be very appropriate. A big part of the game is experiencing the highs and lows, also referred to as the 'swings and roundabouts’. The reason to adopt good bankroll management is to ensure that when you have the lows (and you will), you still have a healthy bankroll. If you are playing good solid poker, you need to accept that you will go through bad runs and remember that you will also get the rub of the green at times – even though it will seem at times that everything is going against you. This would be the law of averages. Take the loses, focus and move on – you need to continue to play your A-Game so don’t get distracted from your goal - to be a winner in the log run.


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