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PL/NL Texas Hold'em >> Full Ring

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Berge20Moderator
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Reged: 06/23/04
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Bankroll Management: Low Stakes
      #13200103 - 12/01/07 12:30 PM

Learning bankroll management is one of the most basic and important skills a poker player can get. Many players of all skill levels, who play various stakes, have came crashing down due to their inability to set and follow these fundamentals.

Various individuals will give you different figures for what your baseline minimum buy-ins should be for online no-limit games. There is no hard rule in this, but frequently people suggest 15 buy-ins for a level and others suggest much more, up to 40 buy-ins. Generally speaking as the difficulty and variance of the games you play in increase, it is probably wise to increase this baseline. Additionally, as the money involved increases, a higher roll is probably a wise idea to ensure that your game decisions aren't impacted by such matters. Finally, if you intend to play many tables at once, the baseline should be higher to some extent.

Individuals who are still playing low-stakes, full ring no-limit games and learning poker for the first time should try and maintain a target of 20 buy-ins for their level. This discussion will use that threshold as the baseline, but every individual can certainly choose a higher one should they wish.

Variance can often be unkind, even to the most seasoned player. It is unreasonable to assume that if one starts playing with 20 buy-ins and loses 1/3 of a buy-in that one should immediately drop an entire level. However, one should also set a downward floor of 15 buy-ins and if you fall below that amount, one needs to move down a level. Using this downward floor helps players who are experiencing terrible variance (or who just cannot beat the game level) from destroying their entire bankroll.

As an example, Berge20 deposits $500 on PokerStars to try his hand at the game. He has had some fun in home games, has read some books and 2+2 posts, and even been to Vegas once. He's confident, but jumping into games above his bankroll level would be asking for trouble. Given his amount, he has 20 Buy-ins for the NL$25 game.

Berge20's target baseline is 20 buy-ins ($500)
His downward floor is 15 buy-ins ($375)

Berge20 plays one Sunday afternoon, but isn't doing so well. He's made some ill-timed bluffs, had his aces busted by a set, and even had his kings run into aces. Suddenly, Berge20 looks up and sees he's down to $360 in his account. He needs to stop playing NL$25, take a break, and move down a level to NL$10. This is no doubt frustrating for him, but it is the right way to preserve his bankroll.

One of an individual's goals in playing poker is often to be able to move-up and play in the bigger games. "Taking a shot" frequently occurs if a player notices that there is a game above his currently rolled level that is very good. Maybe it is Friday night and somebody is clearly just having some fun and shipping his chips all over that table, and you want a part of it. It could also be you have proven that you can beat your current level, but aren't quite fully rolled for a 20 buy-in baseline for the higher level.

The guidelines for taking shots should be similar to your downward floors, in the opposite direction. When one has over 15 buy-ins at the level above them, it can be time to try and test the waters of the game above them, if the game looks good. Don't take shots, just to take shots. Take shots when your chance of success is higher than it otherwise may be.

As an example, Berge20 took his break and moved back down to NL$10 with his remaining $360 and managed to build that back up to $420 over the next few weeks. He's confident and believes that a game at NL$25 he sees is something he can handle, so he jumps in. This is perfectly fine, as long as he adheres to the 15 buy-in floor.

Berge20 does well in that game and actually goes on a hot streak and quickly builds his bankroll up to $700. He's feeling good and really wants to take a shot at the next level, but he shouldn't just yet. Taking a shot at the NL$50 game would require that he have somewhere over the 15 buy-in recommendation, but he just isn't there yet. He needs to continue grinding at NL$25 until he has somewhere in the neighborhood of $800 before he should really consider taking a shot.

By using this method, one should be able to reasonably take shots at the higher levels, while maintaining a solid bankroll for their current level. One should never play multiple levels above their currently bankrolled amounts, under almost any circumstance. Sticking to the 15 buy-in floor when you are not playing or running well is also extremely important. Frequently when a player is playing bad or getting out drawn, things tend to quickly compound and significantly worse play and even tilt. Holding the downward floor will help you realize it may be time for a break and give you a chance to refocus.

NL10:
BR Baseline $200
Downward floor $150
Take a shot $375+

NL25:
BR Baseline $500
Downard floor $375
Take a shot $750+

NL50:
BR Baseline $1000
Downard floor $750
Take a shot $1500+

NL100:
BR Baseline $2000
Downward floor $1500
Take a shot $3000+

As mentioned earlier, beyond this (or even at this) level, the nature of the game changes such that a higher/deeper roll is generally recommended. The games are much more agressive, have higher variance, and are simply more difficult.

Edited by Berge20 (12/01/07 03:12 PM)


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CalledDownLight
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Reged: 01/18/07
Posts: 4541
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Berge20]
      #13202021 - 12/01/07 02:56 PM

fwiw, 3k isn't enough to take a shot at NL200. I would wait until you have 4k to even take a shot at this level or buyin for like $150. On the other hand, I think 10 BIs is enough for NL25 and NL50 (drop down if you hit 7).

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Berge20Moderator
Mod of the nits


Reged: 06/23/04
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: CalledDownLight]
      #13202091 - 12/01/07 03:02 PM

You don't think that if I see a juicy NL200 table with 3 idiots on a Friday night that I can't risk $200 of my 3k+ as long as I follow the guideline of stepping back down?

There is certainly a difference between that type of "taking a shot" and spending a certain numbers of hours/hands at the level to try it out and see how you do type of thing. Perhaps that is more of what you are suggesting with the $4k+ figure?


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xxrod17xx
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: CalledDownLight]
      #13202114 - 12/01/07 03:04 PM

This is basically an outline of my moving up plan. Cept I prob go a little deeper once I reach 100NL like CDL. Good post.

Edited by xxrod17xx (12/01/07 03:04 PM)


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CalledDownLight
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Berge20]
      #13202188 - 12/01/07 03:10 PM

Quote:

You don't think that if I see a juicy NL200 table with 3 idiots on a Friday night that I can't risk $200 of my 3k+ as long as I follow the guideline of stepping back down?

There is certainly a difference between that type of "taking a shot" and spending a certain numbers of hours/hands at the level to try it out and see how you do type of thing. Perhaps that is more of what you are suggesting with the $4k+ figure?




I guess on a Friday night it is different, but I was thinking that you meant moving up and then moving back down if you lost like 5 buyins. When I take a shot it is usually just moving up completely with a willingness to move back down if necessary.


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Berge20Moderator
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: CalledDownLight]
      #13202348 - 12/01/07 03:22 PM

That's a good point though. I'll go back and clarify that more and perhaps add something about taking a more permanent shot to test the level.

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TheProdigy
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Berge20]
      #13202559 - 12/01/07 03:40 PM

I moved up to 200nl with like 8k, lol.

Moved up to 400nl with 20.

I am bankroll nit, but with the amt of time I have I have 0 reason to have any risk of ruin.


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diebitterModerator
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: TheProdigy]
      #13204004 - 12/01/07 05:30 PM

Eh, when 1- or 2-tabling, I have much finer edge moveup.

I do as you suggest at nl50 and below, but once at about 1.3K, I'll move into nl100 unless I fall back to 1K in BR, then it's back to nl50. At about 1.6K, I'll move into nl200, and any drops, I'll go back to nl50 at about 1.2K.

But like I say, that's really only for 1 or 2 tabling, and you need to be able to easily drop without any issues at all to do this sort of thing - and that includes immediately closing tables the second you fall under the limits, because at that edge, it's easily major BR damage if you stick in them past the time you drop below your levels.


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1dentifier
journeyman


Reged: 09/27/07
Posts: 83
Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: diebitter]
      #13204068 - 12/01/07 05:35 PM

I moved up to 200nl with a 20ish buyin bankroll and this happens:



Right at the bottom I nearly moved back down to 100nl with a 30 buyin roll, but was too stuburn to do so. I spose I'm just posting this to illustrate out what a bitch variance can be when you're hovering around 20 buyins.


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Berge20Moderator
Mod of the nits


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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: 1dentifier]
      #13204492 - 12/01/07 06:16 PM

How else can we improve upon this? I'd like to add it to the FAQ.

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illini43
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/14/05
Posts: 2358
Loc: Leman for Heisman
Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Berge20]
      #13204607 - 12/01/07 06:26 PM

I think a distinction should be made in regards to the "shot-taking" line. This depends greatly on how many tables someone normally plays. If you follow the rules Berge has listed above for taking shots, you can slowly add in tables of the higher limit.

For example, lets take the 50NL example and someone 8-tables. When you get to $1,500 and feel comfortable, add a table of 100NL into your mix when you play and if you keep grinding out a profit, slowly add more tables until eventually you are at your baseline for the next level and are plaiying that level almost exclusively.

Ideally, when your bankroll gets to the next 'baseline' you will be around the point where you are playing all of that level on your tables, but this isn't necessary.

In the example I used, you can still be playing 4 tables of 50NL and 4 tables of 100NL if you have reached the baseline of $2,000 for 100NL.

All in all, good bankroll management should use these for what they are: guidelines. Each person has a different comfort level when playing; some might be comfortable playing with 20 buy-ins for a level and others might need 40+. Only you can decide where you should be at before you move up, but these are excellent guidelines if you aren't really sure what to do.


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DjSkyy
member


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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: illini43]
      #13204776 - 12/01/07 06:42 PM

i've been a successful nl online player for years, and i've usually used 10BI as the rule, and am pretty sure i have never had a downswing of more than 10 BIs. I wouldn't really recommend this tho, it can be very stressful.

Honestly, 20 is probably much better.


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oober
old hand


Reged: 10/17/06
Posts: 765
Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: DjSkyy]
      #13205373 - 12/01/07 07:38 PM

I think you can modify these based on a few other factors, how many tables you play and what style you play.

A laggy style playing 6+ tables needs a a much deeper roll then a 4 table tag...


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BadBigBabar
addict


Reged: 10/16/07
Posts: 520
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: oober]
      #13205412 - 12/01/07 07:42 PM

a lot of people think "moving up" means abandoning the previous level entirely and jumping to the new one. there's no shame in mixing tables and levels, or say you move up from 25 to 50, and the 50 tables suck one night, to sit at a few of them and then more of the 25s if the 25s are better. a bigger winrate at a lower game will be more profitable than a tiny winrate or a regfest at a higher game.

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random50
journeyman


Reged: 08/14/07
Posts: 77
Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: BadBigBabar]
      #13205649 - 12/01/07 08:06 PM

Quote:

For example, lets take the 50NL example and someone 8-tables. When you get to $1,500 and feel comfortable, add a table of 100NL into your mix when you play and if you keep grinding out a profit, slowly add more tables until eventually you are at your baseline for the next level and are plaiying that level almost exclusively.





This was my plan. I ended up winning at 25NL while losing at 50NL. Small sample size so this may have been purely coincidence, but it was enough to convince me the games are sufficiently different that playing both at once isn't a great idea for me.

Now I intend to stick with 25NL 'til I hit $1800 then switch to $50NL wholesale.

This means I won't play a level without at least 36 BI. In my case, this is *not* about protecting from a downswing wiping the bankroll out (I think my game is comfortably low enough variance to be playing 50NL already with my current roll), it is about protecting my mental health. The downswings on a horrible session look far less severe. I can literally sleep better at night!


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checkmate36
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Berge20]
      #13208203 - 12/01/07 11:22 PM

Thanks Berge for taking the time. This should be added to the FAQ.

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Albert Moulton
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Berge20]
      #13208220 - 12/01/07 11:23 PM

Quote:

How else can we improve upon this? I'd like to add it to the FAQ.




Nice post.

I would add an explicit warning that you should never move up to win back losses when encountering a losing streak.

You basically say as much with the excellent advice regarding a bottom floor BR at which you move down a level, but the Psych forum is usually full of dudes who moved up to win back losses and ended up in credit card debt.

The only cure for running bad is to move DOWN before you blow most of your roll, and then grind your BR back at the lower level.

Finally, I wouldn't refer to yourself in the 3rd person. You sound a little like sup bro recounting how he was never tackeled for a loss of yardage.


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Chargers In 07
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Albert Moulton]
      #13209064 - 12/02/07 12:14 AM

Quote:

Finally, I wouldn't refer to yourself in the 3rd person. You sound a little like sup bro recounting how he was never tackeled for a loss of yardage.


I thought he was telling a story and not really talking about himself .

Good post Berge20.


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Thremp
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Berge20]
      #13209474 - 12/02/07 12:36 AM

Quote:

How else can we improve upon this? I'd like to add it to the FAQ.





You should really be taking into account winrates when you size your BR in addition to variance (BB/100).

If you dip into the probability forum, they'd likely be able to give you much better guidelines. Though there are some pysch factors that play in (you run bad, you start to play bad... lose control of your game... etc etc)

Maybe add in a: "Play the highest level you're bankrolled for and think you are a winner" disclaimer as well?


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SABR42
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: Albert Moulton]
      #13209506 - 12/02/07 12:38 AM

Quote:

I would add an explicit warning that you should never move up to win back losses when encountering a losing streak.



This works every time.


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gman339
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: SABR42]
      #13211313 - 12/02/07 03:09 AM

This is great for online play, but when you are talking about brick and mortar play you don't necessarily have the options to move down. Typically, 200NL or 300NL is the lowest level. Some brutal variance can seriously devastate your bankroll without giving you the option of moving down a level.

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Das Budrick
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Re: Bankroll Management: Low Stakes [Re: gman339]
      #13212357 - 12/02/07 04:14 AM

damn you berge I was gonna make a pooh bah post along these lines

now I'll have to get more creative

nice job though


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