Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bankroll Building and Management

When I first began playing with any frequency I enjoyed a small amount of success that made me overconfident. Soon, I played in a somewhat bigger game with better players and quickly learned how little I knew. I lost about $100.00 in one evening (which seems small now, but at the time, was the most I had ever lost in one sitting). My wife had always regarded poker suspiciously but had not made much noise about my playing up until then. However, that incident prompted a serious conversation between her and me about poker and the costs of playing. We were not in a position for me to regularly pay $100 a session for “poker lessons” and she suggested poker might be too expensive of a hobby for me to pursue. I quickly compared it to golf and bowling and other activities that are lots of fun but not inexpensive. Long story short, she and I decided if I was to pursue poker as a hobby, it would be best if I start building an independent bankroll to fund my poker endeavors. I started with $50.00. That was in the late summer of 2005. I re-read my couple of poker books. I began reading about strategy and such on the net. I discovered poker blogs and stumbled upon a few of the ones I would continue to read to this day - bloggers such as Pauly, Tripjax, Jordan from High on Poker, Bill Rini, and many others. Most of all, I began to single-mindedly build my bankroll and to think of it as a bankroll. It was totally separate from any family funds, fun money, entertainment money, etc. All poker was funded from it and all winnings went back into it – period – no exceptions. It has been a little over two years and my poker bankroll is now reasonably well established. My wife is no longer concerned whether I win or not since it has no effect on the family other than the time I am away.
Now, don’t get the mistaken idea that I always win – I do not. However, I do employ some strategies to preserve my bankroll. I think I already mentioned it is ONLY for poker and nothing else. No sports betting. No blackjack. No dice, etc. It is not for travel, fuel, lodging, food, or anything but poker. I guard and protect it because I want it to continue to grow. That is the only way I will be able to play in higher stakes games is to grow my bankroll. I do not play many tournaments because the probability of winning is low compared to cash games. I never risk more than 20% of it at once so even if I lose, I am not crippled. I only need that much to go to casinos and so forth. The amount needed to play in the home games I play most often is less than 5% per session. This enables me to play aggressively with a negligible risk of ruin. In my homegame group, guys are frequently complaining about lack of funds to play poker with even though these same guys win their fair share. The problem is since they do not keep a separate bankroll, their winnings are frequently squandered on food, gas, beer, whatever. They treat the times they win like a windfall of cash that they cannot wait to spend when they should think of it as future buy-ins. I have tried to offer suggestions but unfortunately they either lack the interest or discipline to go the extra mile and keep their winnings separate from normal operating funds for the household. All you need is an additional wallet (which is what I use) or rubberband to keep your roll together as it grows. Mine has now exceeded the amount of cash I like to have laying around so I opened a bank account for it. Try this idea. It really worked for me. With a little discipline, you will be amazed at how quickly you can grow a bankroll of your own.

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