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Bankroll management, variance and bluffing

Pud's Poker Progress RSS / Matthew Pitt / 28 March 2008 / 3

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If, like me, you have played poker for a couple of years and are a naturally observant person, you will have noticed that many situations you find yourself in at the poker tables, both online and live, will mirror situations that you will find yourself in, in "real" life. Topics such as bankroll management, variance, reading people and even bluffing play a part in our normal daily lives more than we'd care to imagine. Here are a few examples off the top of my head that I think you can relate to.

Bankroll Management

Apart from a lack of skill, the number one reason why poker players go bust and lose all their available bankroll is by not implementing a bankroll management strategy. They deposit $200 on a site and immediately sit down at a table where you can buy in for $200 and quickly lose their entire stack, not necessarily due to bad play but sometimes bad luck. They fail to understand the fact that in poker you can play perfectly and still lose. They fail to realise that although AA is a 4.5/1 favourite to beat KK so you'll come out on top the majority of the time, around 20 per cent you'll lose a huge pot with them when you get it all in preflop against a lesser hand.

You need a cushion behind you so you can soak up these blows, bad beats and general losses. The same runs true in life. If you're paid monthly, as I am, you always think you're more flush with cash than you actually are. You see that pair of jeans you want or go on a boozy night out early in the month and then towards the next payday you find yourself looking for change down the back of the sofa so you can get a packet of fags on your way to work or worse still your TV blows up and you have to borrow money to repair it and then a vicious circle ensues. However, if you had some sort of savings behind you, a cushion to fall back on, then you could soak up the bad beat of a £100 TV repair bill and still carry on with your usual routine.


In poker there is a lot of natural mathematical variance involved, the fact there are a total of 1,326 starting hand combinations in a standard 52 card deck doesn't help things. A bit of research will show you are dealt a pair of aces once in every 220 hands. Some people, wrongly, think that this means you play 219 hands of Hold'em and on hand 220 a beautiful pair of aces shows up. It would be nice if that happened but due to natural variance it isn't the case. You could, in theory, be dealt Aces 5 times in a row and then not see them again for 3000 hands, but ON AVERAGE, you will see Aces once in every 220 hands dealt to you. The more hands you play the closer your statistics will be to showing this 220/1 figure. This natural variance will lead you to have days where you can't help but win. You'll get both good and bad hands but every flop is kind to you, flushes come in, sets turn into full houses and even if you click call by accident instead of fold you'll hit that magic four of a kind by the river! On the flip side you'll have days where your full house is beaten by four of a kind, your straight gets beaten on the river by a flush and you'll have AA lose to KK for all your stack.

Again, the same goes for life in general. We all have those days where every traffic light seems to switch to green as we approach them, where you remember to save your presentation seconds before a power cut or where you decide to buy a scratchcard with your morning paper and win a fiver. But we all remember the days where we're late for work, trip over the cat, step in a puddle, miss the train and drop egg down your new shirt. Some times being on the wrong side of variance and/or luck seems like it will last forever at the tables but compare it to life an you know it's just a passing phase.


Strip a bluff to it's bare bones and you will see that it is basically a lie. Whichever way you look at it when you bluff someone you are lying to them about the strength of your hand or potential strength of your hand on later streets. Some people rarely bluff, others get a buzz out of constantly lying to us at the tables but you can guarantee we will all at least try a bluff at some point. I don't think that I have to do an example of lying in your normal daily routine, we all do it everyday. It maybe the reason why you were late into work, to over exaggerating a situation you were in to make it more exciting or even telling the girl from accounts her new pink mohawk haircut really suits her! It's a fact of life we talk crap all the time. But like the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" if you bluff and lie too often then people stop believing you all together and everything you say and do is taken at face value and people start to play back at you and even bluff back at you putting you in uncertain spots which knock you out of your comfort zone and makes going about your daily duties, be they work or poker, more difficult than they need to actually be.

That's just three paths where life and poker cross, I could think of a few more and no doubt you'll have noticed some too. In my next post I'll actually have some poker content from my own online play and details of a year long challenge where I will be using proper bankroll management to try and grind a $250 deposit into a nice chunk of change.

As always, thanks for reading and good luck at the tables!


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  1. Amatay | 01 April 2008

    Superb post Mr Dave Allen, really good mate. When's that fish Yorkie Pudd gonna start writing btw? ;-)

    Seriously tho, good stuff mate

  2. Yorkshire Pud | 02 April 2008

    Hi mate, thanks for stopping by! I should have my own log in pretty soon so you'll see the name that is Yorkshire Pud displayed on all posts!

    Should be quite a few posts in April so please keep checking in!

    Yorkshire Pud

  3. Mair | 03 April 2008

    Very interesting post Pud, really good in fact, is that oor Mr Pud behind that writing? lol

    Look forward to reading more.