Using a bankroll in online poker

I have heard many people down the years go on about how bankroll management is the be all and end all of online poker and poker in general in cash games at sites like 888poker. This is both true and wrong in equal measure. No amount of bankroll control can turn a weak poker player into a winner.

If your overall play is –EV then you will lose money whatever bankroll control you elect to have. However this needs to be clarified because even being –EV can be fine if you dovetail good bankroll management with a process of education.

For example let us say that you want to start playing online poker and you want to use $1000 of your money to do so. We will also assume that you have absolutely no experience of playing poker at all. In reality of course then you really shouldn’t be playing poker.

Your best move would be to educate yourself by either buying a few good books or joining a good coaching site. It would be worth either using $500 out of that $1000 to educate yourself and then use the remaining $500 as a bankroll.

You will make $500 fairly quickly once you have the proper education and grounding behind you but without that then you could lose the entire $1k just as quickly as well. However if you do insist on playing poker then you are obviously –EV. This means that you should therefore be looking to lose the absolute minimum and this means playing the smallest micro levels that the site offers.

If these are $1 games then play those levels or $2 games or whatever. Even losing a hundred buy-ins may only cost you $100-$200. While you would eventually lose your entire $1000 doing this, you would at least be allowing yourself valuable time in which to improve while losing the minimum.

I am a big believer though in education first and poker playing second. There is little point in trying to gain “experience” by playing when all you are doing is gaining experience at doing the wrong things.

If you can educate yourself to make $5/hour which isn’t difficult and you play 20 hours per week then you will have made the $500 back in five weeks if that is the figure that you have spent in order to educate yourself. Then when you have reached a winning game at a low level can you then set about using bankroll management.

You will often hear some people say that having twenty buy-ins is the minimum requirement for playing no limit hold’em. Well that kind of depends on your own skill levels, the skill level of your opponents and how aggressive the table is and your own style.

As a novice player (assuming that you are one) then you need to adjust to playing online poker. If all you have ever played is live poker then you will be immediately struck by the fact that the games are raked. This means that a fee is taken from each pot and paid to the house as payment for running the game.

This is different to say a live home game where there will likely not be any fee for playing the game at all. So bankroll management is very important if used within the right set of circumstances.

It took me an awful long time to realise this at the start of my poker career and I lost far more money than I really should have done. At the end of the day then poker is a lifelong game and you need to plan for the long term and not the short term.

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