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Bankroll Management: A Basic Concept Revisited

As you can see from my blog roll, not all of my titles are original or catchy, but I do strive for them to be accurate, and this one is most certainly accurate.  We all know about this term “bankroll management”, and if you don’t, allow me to give you a brief idea of what it is and where it comes from.  Gamblers in general and poker players in particular know, or they should be wise enough to realize, that their road to profitability is about as smooth as the once-trod Oregon Trail.  In other words, it’s a very tough journey, and the odds are stacked against you (literally and figuratively) all over the place.  You have to beat the other players.  Then after that, you have to beat the rake charged on your table.  So you have to play not just better than your opponents, but significantly better because everyone is trying to beat the rake and each other simultaneously.  It takes time, practice, and skill – – and bankroll management is a way of ensuring that your poker funds will last long enough to give you a reasonable shot at profitability.

But let me repeat that last sentence for you again – – “bankroll management is a way of ensuring that your poker funds will last long enough to give you a reasonable shot at profitability”.  I used every typographical highlight that I could just to emphasize the point that Bankroll Mgmt. does not GUARANTEE profit, it simply gives you a better chance at it.  Why?  Well, veteran players can assure us that if you have 30+ full buy-ins for a cash table, 50+ buy-ins for a Sit-n-Go, or 100+ buy-ins for a Tournament (or whatever recommendations you happen to be reading and following), that you have an ample cash supply to outplay the short-term ‘variance’ and see long-term profitability from your solid method of play.  I’m going to suggest that in and of themselves, BRM guidelines that you follow blindly without regard for your skill level, game selection, or other basic considerations will be about as helpful to you as shotgun shells with no gun to shoot them.  Even if you have 500 buy-ins for a game in which you are the worst player, or among the worst players, you will lose.  It will take much longer and you’ll suffer more in the process, but you will lose.

Buy-in guidelines aren’t the key in this whole concept, to be honest.  Like most things, people want a quick fix that will work consistently, so simple rules to be followed have somehow suggested that this is how “smart” poker players operate.  And I’m not saying that the really skilled players among us deviate too far from these guidelines.  What I am saying is that skilled players also realize that if they want to make a profit, they have to be demonstrably better than those at their tables, so game selection is really the key.  I cannot stress this enough:  Play at the highest level that you can beat – that’s the most sure Bankroll Management plan of all.  Most likely if you can beat a given limit but are not rolled for it yet, you will be soon.  Conversely if you are rolled for a limit but cannot beat it, you need to find another game.  If you are beating a game but feel like you should be beating a bigger game, put in the time and effort until your results can back up your feelings, because the rest of us don’t really care when you sit down whether or not you feel like you can beat our game.  If you’re right, we have to pay you off, those are the rules.  If you’re wrong, you’re paying us, end of story.

My challenge as you consider what Bankroll Management means for you is to identify the type of game that you believe you can beat, and set about keeping thorough records (keep them yourself, don’t rely solely on software to do it for you) to demonstrate how you are doing in this game.  If you want to play and beat $2NL, that fine – just keep records.  If you want to play and beat low limit MTT’s, that’s fine – just keep records.  If you want to beat $25PLO or the $2/$4 10-Game Mix or whatever your game of choice is, that’s fine – just keep records.  Prove to yourself that you’ve found your sweet spot in the poker universe, and the money will absolutely take care of itself.  You’ll never need to consider BRM Guidelines again if you know where you fit in the food chain.  Let us know if this concept describes your experience as a poker player, and Good Luck at the Tables!

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