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Online Bankroll Management – a Few Basic Rules

Online Bankroll Management – a Few Basic Rules

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Maintaining a healthy online poker bankroll is a surprisingly difficult undertaking. With all the boasting and showboating going on in various online poker forums and message boards, one could swear that 90% of people are long-term winners online and that they’re all bankroll management specialists. The truth of the matter is though that it’s a statistical fact that around 90% of players lose money in live poker. Given the increased game-speed, the lack of live reads and the generally stiff online competition, that number may be higher online. Now then, the fact that losing players aren’t good bankroll managers doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. After all, they’re doing things wrong, so they may as well go about bankroll management the wrong way. What IS surprising however is that in addition to the hapless masses, a large percentage of players who do win have problems with bankroll management too.

The first important theorem of bankroll management is playing within one’s bankroll. If you intend to last at the online poker table, you have to play within your bankroll and here’s why: suppose you get two players to bet on a coin-flip (a 50-50 event) and you get them to always bet equal amounts of money. Regardless of the fact that the game is a zero sum one, the one whose bankroll is finite will eventually lose all his money and go broke.

The same goes for online poker: you, the individual, have a finite bankroll which you pit against the combined bankrolls of the rest of the players: quite infinite in comparison to yours. Fortunately for you, poker is not a 50-50, zero-sum game. With skill, you can create edges which will help you defeat the disadvantages that stem from the finite nature of your roll.

Basically, your bankroll should be large enough to tide you through the bad times (losing streaks) which will come regardless of how well you play. Other – apparently insignificant - things (like the poker rake) will also work against you, but fortunately there are rakeback and poker propping deals out here that will eliminate the effects of the rake from the equation.

As a general advice, one should never have more than 5% of his/her bankroll in play at one table. Obviously, the lower that number is, the bigger your bankroll-provided safety cushion. If you want to really play it safe, make that 1-2% rather.

Checking your balance often would generally be a good idea in just about every other case with the exception of poker. Monitoring your online poker bankroll that closely will do you no good, and here’s why: when you see your roll growing, you may get greedy. It is one hell of an awesome feeling to see the money pile up in your account, and getting addicted to that feeling is extremely easy. On the downside: if you see your bankroll withering away, you’re likely to set loss-chasing goals which – needless to say – do no good to your game whatsoever. The advice? Try to dissociate chips from money. When you play, you play for chips and not money. Never stop to think about how much money one particular decision has just cost you.

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