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Old 12-01-2007, 01:30 PM
Berge20 Berge20 is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Grinding Away
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Default Bankroll Management: Low Stakes

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.

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

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

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

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.
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