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The Importance of Bankroll Management

Bloggers RSS / Matthew Pitt / 17 November 2008 / Leave a Comment

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Poker can be a cruel beast at times and is one of the few games where you can play perfectly and still lose. Think of it this way, if Manchester United played Accrington Stanley one hundred times, you would expect the current Premier League champions to win every game, unless of course they made a mistake. But in poker, a small-stakes player, like myself, could take on players like Annette Obrestad and beat her comfortably on any given day, despite the obvious gulf in class.

The natural variance in poker means, in order to be successful, a player needs to have enough money, a buffer if you like, so when the inevitable losses occur, it does not take them out of the game completely. This is where bankroll management comes in.

So how much money is enough? For obvious reasons I have to assume that you are a winning player as a losing player will always eventually go bust no matter how large their bankroll is! Also, someone who wins at five big blinds per 100 hands will suffer less swings, as a rule, than a player winning one big blind per 100 hands.

For No-limit Hold'em cash games, it is recommended that a player has around 25 buy-ins available for the stakes he is playing. This means that if you were to play with blinds $0.10/$0.20 with a $20 maximum buy-in, you should ideally have at least $500 as a bankroll. Your style of play has an effect on the size of your bankroll requirements. If you play a more tight-aggressive (TAG) game, meaning you will be playing less pots, then your bankroll can edge towards the lower end of the spectrum, whereas a loose-aggressive (LAG) will be playing less than premium holdings and will suffer larger swings in stack size so will therefore need a larger bankroll to soak up the losses.

Another consideration is whether or not you can afford to replenish your bankroll should you lose it. If losing $500 would be the end of the world to you, it makes sense to play at lower stakes, maybe $0.05/$0.10 where you would have 40 buy-ins for the stakes, which would lessen the chances of going bust. Conversely, if you can easily redeposit without any consequences you can afford to be slightly more aggressive with your bankroll and play with less buy-ins backing you up.

When all is said and done, it is entirely up to each individual player as to what risks they want to take in order to progress. Whilst bankroll management may not be the most interesting subject in the world, it may be one of the most important. For every player who reportedly runs $100 up to $10,000, there are dozens who fall by the way side.
For two opposite views of bankroll management, read up on Chris Ferguson's "$0-$10k Challenge" and the infamous BlueScouse's blog.

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