Build Your Bankroll and Your Game


I know that’s not what you want to hear. You want to know how many buy-ins you need to play in a certain cash game, or to grind certain tournaments. There’s comfort in knowing that you have enough money to “handle” a downswing. But the fact is sometimes, by moving up limits, you’re setting yourself up for a downswing.

Unless you’re Bill Perkins or Richard Yong and have a very large amount of disposable income, maintaining your bankroll is just as important as growing it. The problem is, when most players hit a big score or go on a heater, they immediately want to take a shot. Experiencing the positive side of variance can lead you to believe that you are much better at poker than you actually are, or, even worse, that you will continue to run better than expected.

At the beginning of last year, I was fortunate enough to make a deep run in a large field, $11 buy-in online tournament, finishing fifth for just under $7,000. In all honesty, the only reason I registered the tournament was because it was a quiet Sunday at my apartment in Trinidad and Tobago, and I was bored. I’m not a serious grinder, but when I’m in action, I take it very seriously.

The first thing I did after winning was to go to sleep. (Spoiler alert: 20,000-player tournaments take forever, even online.) The second thing I did was set aside $5,000 for real-life expenses. This left me with $2,000 in my account to mess around with and try to grow into something more.

Bankroll management