Multi-Table Tournament Bankroll Management
Many poker players started out playing poker tournaments more as a way to control costs than as a way to make real money playing poker. These types of tournaments are nice because players are able to buy in for a set amount, play for a while and maybe finish in the money.
Even if you don’t finish in the money however, in the average players eyes; they had a good time, probably a couple of beers and enjoyed some friendly banter. Poker is after all, for most, a social event.
Some players will find that they begin to finish in the money more and more often. Whether it’s because they’re patient, they read other players actions really well, they begin studying the game and learning how to beat it or for whatever reason. Then, as a result, some of these more successful players will start to take the game more seriously.
They become players that sit down at a poker tournament with every intention of finishing in the money, instead of players that play to see how long they can stay in.
This is the time when players are seriously studying multi-table poker tournament strategy and player tells for both online and offline games. It’s also the time to start building a poker bankroll and managing it. It’s when casual poker players turn their game into their business.
Building a Poker Bankroll with Nothing
It is possible to build a poker bankroll with no money by playing freerolls. Martin Staszko did it in fact, he finished 2nd place in the 2011 World Series of Poker without ever investing a dime of his own real money into his poker career, just like that, bam, he’s a millionaire.
We’re not going to spend a lot of time talking about how to build a bankroll playing freeroll poker tournaments however, what we’re going to talk about is how to manage your bankroll when you’re playing multi-table poker tournaments.
What is a Poker Bankroll?
The first thing you need is a bankroll to manage. Your bankroll can be $100 or it can be $30,000, it can be upwards of millions of dollars in fact, it just has to be the money you set aside for your poker bankroll. We’re moving away from gambling mode here, and into business mode.
So, decide how much money you’re going to start out with and we’ll go from there.
Tracking your Multi-table Tournament Bankroll
There are many ways to track your bankroll. You can think of it a lot like a bank account. The reason you need to keep very close track of your bankroll is so that you realistically know your win-rate and whether your bankroll’s moving up or down in specific games. This is a very mathematical business you’ve started here and we’re going to collect all of the data that we can.
It cannot be stressed enough; your bankroll is your stake in the game. Without it, you’re a freeroller. You’re on the rail, you are not playing. If you do not properly manage your bankroll, even as a winning player, you’re at the risk of going bust.
You can start by creating an excel worksheet, or even using a notepad, and just keeping track of your buy-ins and your balance. You’ll learn to add more data as you move on. You’ll also need to track poker bonuses received from poker sites. This can include welcome bonus money, as well as money won from VIP tournaments, new depositor freerolls and any other perks given to you as a poker player.
As you’re tracking your finances as a poker player be sure that you’re also tracking your progress when it comes to clearing bonuses. Keep records of the points that you have towards the clearance of a particular bonus vs. the amount of points you need before the bonus is completely cleared. Also, note clearly the date that bonus money expires – that’s the date that you’re no longer eligible to clear the bonus, you’ve missed out, whatever remains to be cleared has become forfeited.
Deciding How much of your Bankroll to Invest
We’re going to work with a pretty conservative bankroll management plan here. After you’ve been successfully earning, and paying yourself a livable salary, you’ll have a better idea of your own goals and abilities then you can adjust these numbers to suit yourself.
Let’s use the number 1%. If you have a $1000 bankroll, you’ll buy into tournaments for no more than 1% of that bankroll. Now, if you’ve read our sit n go tournament bankroll management strategy, you are aware that in that article we recommend a more generous 5%. That is because of the fact that it’s simply easier to ensure that you finish in the money during sit n go’s than it is when playing a multi-table event. In fact, if you’re using a solid multi-table strategy, you’re going to want to pay very close attention to your win rate in multi-table games.
Let’s say, for instance, that you buy into the Sunday $215 buy in game at PokerStars, The Sunday Million. With a million dollars on the line there’s surely always quite the field for this game. On average, you can expect anywhere from 7500 to 10,000 players to enter into this event. Your win rate playing this game isn’t going to be the same as it would be if you were playing a smaller field, at say Ignition Casino, playing a $20 Double Stack Freezeout tournament with 1000 or so entrants.
The fewer people you have to outlast to make it to the money, the higher your chances of winning. Likewise, the more people you have to beat in an event, the more money you stand to win, therefore heavily increasing your ROI should you place high up in the money.
Earning Your Living Playing Multi-Table Poker Tournaments
If you’re going to make a living as a pro poker player at some point you’re going to have to start paying yourself a livable wage, right? The question is how much should you pay yourself and how much should you add to your bankroll? If you want to move up in stakes, and hell, in today’s economy who’s not looking for a pay raise, you have to continue to grow your bankroll, diligently.
The first thing to consider here are things that suck the money out of your poker bankroll, like the fee the poker room charges for tournament play + the buyin itself, then there are taxes, which of course vary by location, and honesty. So, we’ll immediately assume you’re going to need to put away about 33% of your gross win for taxes. That leaves you with what we’ll call your net this is your gross win minus the 33% you paid in taxes. Notice we’re not taking the buyin into consideration here, that’ll come out in the maths.
Now we’ll divide up 100% of the net win into three equal portions, 33.3% of what you earn for your own pay, 33% to reinvest into your bankroll and another 33.3% to put into a savings account in case of emergencies or whatever might come up – if all else fails, you can call this your retirement fund!
You’ll need to keep an eye on the relationship between your win-rate and your bankroll balance however, make adjustments when necessary and make a graph if you need to. If your buy-in amount keeps going south, and 1% of your bankroll is getting smaller and smaller, you need to work on both your strategy and an interim bankroll management plan that keeps you in the game in the meantime.
Average Buy In vs. The 1% Rule
Let’s say you play in a $10 tournament against a considerably large field, and you hit. You win 1st place and your already fairly healthy bankroll gets a nice influx of cash. Perhaps you started out with a $1000 bankroll and you just won $14,000.
It’s likely not a good idea to jump stakes because of the new influx of cash. Remember we’re using a conservative strategy here, not the ‘easy-come-easy-go’ method used by the average gambler. It’s fine to reward yourself for the win by moving up in stakes; perhaps move up to $22’s instead of $10 buyin games. However, it might be a bit premature to move straight up into $140 buy ins. Some say “slow and steady wins the race.” others say “you can’t win with scared money. I like to say, “your scared money will soon become my money.”
Multi-Table Tournaments and Online Poker Bonuses
In today’s world, poker bonuses and VIP programs are as integral to your bankroll as your own actual cash money is. If you’re not taking advantage of poker bonuses you might as well walk right past hundred dollar bills laying there on the street, without bothering to pick them up.
The thing is, clearing bonuses doesn’t work the same way when you’re playing multi-table tournaments as it does when you’re playing ring (cash) games.
In some cases, tournament buy-ins don’t count at all towards clearing poker bonuses, at other sites the rate that bonuses are cleared via tournament fees is really unrealistic so be sure you’re reading the fine print on these bonuses and taking advantage of all of the perks offered to new poker players.
Lastly, multi-table tournament players don’t accrue much along the lines of rakeback however; many sites offer VIP perks that can be converted right into real money offering a nice bankroll boost.