Bankroll Management for Cash Games
If you’re going to earn consistently playing poker, then you need a poker bankroll, then you need to learn how to manage that bankroll. It’s possible to start with nothing and freeroll yourself into a little money, the very same way that Martin Staszko did, if you’re in an area that offers you the opportunity to play free poker for real cash online.
Starting an Online Poker Bankroll with Nothing
More than one online poker pro has taken the journey of poker zero to poker hero by freerolling his way into the majors and creating a bankroll out of thin air. Others have invested very little and created a fierce bankroll through the use of very strict bankroll management.
Martin Staszko Freerolled his way into the 2011 WSOP
Staszko, the 2nd place finisher of the 2011 World Series of Poker began his poker career with no bankroll at all when online poker first started becoming popular and the ability to deposit real money wasn’t even a reality yet. He started his bankroll winning pennies playing in tournaments and then, eventually, making his way to dollars. To date, through very strict bankroll management and patience he learned playing chess, Staszko is still freerolling.
Chris Ferguson Built a $10,000 Bankroll Freerolling on Full Tilt
It’s also possible to start with very little, and build it into a whole lot more like Chris Ferguson has proven possible on more than one occasion.
Just to prove that it could be done, Ferguson started with a zero balance bankroll. That is $0, then he turned that $0 into $10,000. After Ferguson won a freeroll poker tournament he began making his way up the ranks until he reached $10,000. He didn’t stop there though, he went on further, turning that $10k into more than $20,000.
How much of your own money should you start your cash game bankroll with?
Let’s say you’ve decided not to go the freeroll route, we’ve deemed it a possibility but, I think most will concur it’s not the easiest route to becoming a successful cash earning poker player. That leaves us with the question, how much money should you start that bankroll with?
The first thing we’re going to look at when we begin to consider how much you will deposit at your first poker site is their bonus offer. If you can afford to maximize on a poker sites bonus offer, and then grind it out at the cash tables until the bonus is cleared, then you’re doubling your entire roll at that room. It’s probably not a good idea to begin your trek by choosing one room, or one network for that matter, so our recommendation is that you choose one of the most trusted poker sites available that offers the most lucrative poker deposit bonus, get that cleared, choose another, until you have begun a decent sized bankroll at three online poker sites.
For instance, let’s take sites that offer a deposit bonus of 200% of their initial deposit up to a maximum bonus of $2000. If you were a player that could afford to deposit $2000, then you’d get $2000 free in poker bonus cash. That’s an instant double up and a starting bankroll of $4000 provided that you’ve already taken strategy into consideration and have built a strategy for clearing the Titan Poker bonus.
If you’re not the guy that can afford to make that $2000 deposit, but can deposit $100, you’re still doubling up, you’re just doubling up on a shorter stack. The point here is that to best build a poker bankroll, you want to take advantage of the deposit bonus to the fullest of your ability, without depositing the rent money of course, always only deposit what you can comfortably afford.
Let’s look at the games you should be playing in comparison to your bankroll.
How much money should I be taking with me to the tables?
Here are some numbers for you to keep in mind. In general, a solid player wants at least 20 big blinds in his stack when he sits down at a table, in fact, if you’re confident in your abilities, you really want to be sitting down to the tables with the maximum buy-in for the game.
If you’re not so confident, and are playing a short-stacking game where only made hands are played, and always shoved in preflop, you’re obviously buying in for less. However, let’s assume you’re going to take a more conservative approach, looking at the long-term, and ensuring that you still have a bankroll to manage when all is said and done.
Never take more than 5% of your bankroll with you to the tables
That stack with 20 big blinds minimum in it shouldn’t be more than 5% of your total bankroll, ever. In fact, you really want to have 25 buy-ins in your bankroll at any given time. This gives you room to take bad beats, make mistakes, learn new strategy, improve as a player, and … most importantly not bust out of the game, even if you suffer an incredibly bad streak.
If you get to the point where you’ve lost more than 20% of your initial bankroll, perhaps it’s time to hit the strategy section of this website, start shoring up leaks, looking for new strategy and ways to improve your game. In the meantime, let’s start figuring out how to pay yourself as a poker player.
Paying Yourself for Playing Poker
In the business world, it’s recommended that 50% of your profits go right back into your business, however, let’s say you buy into a $1/$3 game at your local casino for the maximum buy-in of $300. You double up, and the game breaks. Next week, you have your initial $300 + the $150 in profits to consider, you felt, you rebuy, you felt. Your bankroll just took a -$150 hit!
Looking at your profits another way, let’s say you’re playing 25,000 hands of poker online a week. Multi-tabling in 100nl games ($1/$2 no limit). You’re playing 16 tables at a time, for about 30 hours a week. That’s how you really grind a living playing poker right? Volume.
During this time you make about $4000 in profits, without taking into consideration the bonuses poker sites offer players. That’s an average of about two ‘poker tracker big bets’ per hour per table, the $4k per month profit, before taxes.
If you figure your taxes at about 33%, or about $1320 for that month, and throw that into savings you’re still working with $2700 for the month. So the question you have here is how much to pay yourself, and how much to roll back into the bankroll.
For beginning poker players, 33% is a good starting salary, of the $2700. Then another 33% would go back into the bankroll, and yet another 34% goes into savings, in case of emergency, life change or whatever else comes up. Once you’ve saved a good chunk of cash in the emergency fund, say a year’s earnings or so, you can start considering giving yourself a raise.
If you find you need more cash, work your way up in stakes, play softer games, or find ways to get more volume in at the tables.