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I'm trying to gather some more information on bankroll strategy. I have recently starting taking poker seriously as an opportunity for a second income.

I live in Australia where we have terrible internet services so I can't play online. I travel 2 hours by car (on a good day) to the nearest casino. The lowest stakes are $2/$3 (AUD$1 = ~USD$0.75) with a min buy-in of $100 and max of $300. I believe the rule for a "normal" bankroll is to have a minimum of 20 buy-ins. I buy-in for $200 which means I should have a min $4000. I currently have a bankroll of $1100.

Current rules (with my wife's influence, lol)

  • I must only ever buyin for $200 per session, so once I've lost that I go home.
  • I have a stop loss of $200 after making $50. So if my stack at its highest for the day was $550 and I am down to $450 (-$100) I then must pull out at a stack of $350 (-$200).
  • Bankroll accumilation: I started with $200, I have a ceiling of $800 bankroll. Any profits above an $800 stack are split. 20% goes to building my bankroll while the other 80% goes towards personal spending and bills.
  • All expenses must come out of bankroll such as food, drink, petrol (gas) and toll fees.

Is there any other information or advice you guys can give me that would help me with managing my bankroll? Is there anything I should add or take away from my rules above? As stated, I know I should have a bankroll of at least $4000 and I need to stick to the 80/20 split to keep the wife happy. Also note that it does seem like overkill to drive 2 hours (160km/100miles) each way to play poker and even more overkill to know that I may only play 5 minutes of poker to lose my $200 and then leave, but I truely believe that if I am this dedicated and have strong discipline now, it will surely help me down the track.

Sorry for the novel I have just written, its my first question and thought I really needed to explain the situation to get some great feedback. I appreciate all future comments.

2

LIFE

You might reconsider if it's worth taking 4 hours travel to go play poker. Unless you do it once a month or so. I'd tell you to find a better way to make money perhaps. Poker is a tyring, stressfull game. If you play too long and have to travel 2 hours to go and 2 hours to come back you might consider that one day you might get an accident because you're too tired and you decided to still keep driving.

Also your wife seems to not really approve your choices to 100%, you would make her really happy if you stopped playing i guess.

POKER

You should consider enter with full stack if you think you have the edge over other players. If you don't have an edge why play?

The fact that you have to keep track all the time of how much money you have or how much you are down just keeps distracting you from the current play. Focus on the game and you can check of your up and down after you quit for the day or if you loose your stack.

I don't like the strategy to pull back when you get -200$. It basically means you lost a big pot. Which will happen time to time.

What you should consider is not how much you are down, but more likely how good is your game on that day after you loose a big pot like that. Maybe you played well but the player got lucky and you might be able to get the money back later on. If you quit now that person might be in different mental state or might not be back next time you come. If it's a fish you might want to keep sticking around and try get his money.

If you think your mental state is affected by the big loss you should consider go home which i think would be the best decision.

My strategy is always to have 2 full stacks(2x300=600$ in this case) and that's what i play for in the day. If i go up i try to keep growing(lets say i reached 800$). Sometimes if i feel like there are too many good players with good stack(around >=600) i would stand up take my chips and come back a few minutes later with lower stack(300$ buy in). Normally i only stop if i start to make mistakes, start to get too tired or the casino closes.European casinos not open 24/h :(

With this strategy i don't really loose my momentum.

Another problem you have is your wife's rule 20/80. At some point you will loose all your bankroll because of that rule.

Let's say you started with 300$ you manage to double up 600$ and decide to go home.

You have 300$ so 20% of 300$ = 60$ which you will have to deduce all expenses which makes you basically go to almost nothing. Sometimes you will break even days like that happen. On those days you will than loose some money. And unless you can win 1000$ per session i don't think you will be able to survive for a long time.Try negotiate a 50/50 rule at least it will get you keep play if you're a good player.

All this will affect your mental state and you will start to play really tight. You might also fold in places where you think it's too risky because it affects your bankroll too much or you still want to keep playing for the day.

The best and most effective way to play is to have 1 or more stack and just play with it without constrains.

  • Wow, thankyou so much for your reply. I think you correct on most things. I am glad I put this question out there. I will certainly rethink most of my strategies. The driving is only temporary as we are moving towards the end of the year. Driving doesnt worry me too much as I am used to driving long distances. Here in Australia it certainly isnt unheard of to travel 2 hours to and from work. I love poker but am also treating it as a job so it is definately worth it.Having a $300 stack certainly makes more sense but at the moment will limit the amount of stacks I will have. – Josh Jul 7 '15 at 12:53
  • "i would stand up take my chips and come back a few minutes later with lower stack" - ratholing or "going south" is a practice which is frowned upon at best and downright unpermitted in most casinos. – 3N1GM4 Dec 13 '16 at 11:09
  • @3N1GM4 I'ts not allowed in some places to just stand up and come back and buy in again with lower stack. But in many casinos in europe they allow it or at least don't complain about it unless someone else has a word about it(they just want you to play). Players normally are fine also with it. I never saw any complains. In most casinos if you stand up with more than the max stack and leave with your chips (lets say you managed to get 1000$) and you come back a few minutes later. You will only be able to enter with the max buy in amount.(in this case 300$) – Marcio Dec 14 '16 at 7:23
  • @Marcio that's a fair point. I live in the UK myself and you're right that ratholing is much less well policed here than in the US for example. I still wouldn't usually recommend it though, not just because it's bad form, but also because unless everyone else at the table has less than a max buyin (which is rare), you're robbing yourself of the chance to win more money in future hands and thus reducing your winrate (although you do also reduce your variance slightly). – 3N1GM4 Dec 14 '16 at 9:11
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Bankroll questions always have to take into account more than just what you currently consider your bankroll.

So you have $1100 right now and are playing a $300 max buyin game (I'll deal with whether this is a good idea or not shortly), which makes it quite likely that you could lose that entire $1100 in a few bad sessions (even with your stop loss and quitting rules) - your Risk Of Ruin for this bankroll in this game is almost 60% (even if you are beating the game for 5bb/100 with a standard deviation of 70bb, which is quite generous), meaning if you start with a $1100 bankroll now and play this game (assuming the 5bb/100 winrate and a 70bb std dev), there's about a 60% chance you go broke at some point in the future from that starting bankroll.

Therefore, it's important to consider what your real bankroll is. If you play through the $1100 you have now and lose it all (whether this is today, tomorrow, next week or in 5 years), what will you do? Quit poker for ever? Find more money from somewhere? You need to think about the total amount of money you are willing to invest into this endeavour, as this will affect how you should manage your bankroll. Remember all of this is assuming you are beating the game quite healthily - it's very common for people to act on small samples and then realise a few hundred thousand hands down the road that either they were never a winning player, or they no longer are one because the game has developed and/or they haven't put in the work to improve.

So, how can this RoR be reduced (let's say, to less than 5%)?

Well, the first obvious choice is to have a larger bankroll - you'd need almost $6000 to achieve this (see where the 20 buyin rule comes from?).

If you absolutely don't think you can ever add more money to your bankroll, then you could try to improve and beat the game for more - you'd need to be winning at almost 27bb/100 to achieve this, which is almost unheard of over any decent sample size (winrates above 10bb/100 over statistically significant samples are extremely rare), so unless you've found the best game ever, this is highly unlikely.

You could try to find ways to reduce your variance (altering your play to avoid high variance spots, table selection, buying in short etc.) to bring down that std dev figure, but you'd need to get it down close to 30bb, which again is relatively unheard of. Plus, the variance reducing steps you could take would likely hurt your winrate significantly, so you'd have to reduce variance even more to reach a 5% RoR.

So, my advice would be to not play this game on an $1100 bankroll unless you're happy that there's a high likelihood that you go broke, even if you're a very good winning player.

Additionally, some of your "rules" are going to hurt you a lot:

I must only ever buyin for $200 per session, so once I've lost that I go home.

As others have pointed out, this is arbitrary and will often force you to leave good games, and therefore reduce your winrate (assuming that you leave bad games either way). It's also bad from a psychological perspective, as you might drive 2 hours, play 1 hand, get stacked and then have to drive 2 hours home thinking about it. This will likely lead you to play worse in the future as you will make (probably bad) adjustments to reduce the chances of this happening.

I have a stop loss of $200 after making $50. So if my stack at its highest for the day was $550 and I am down to $450 (-$100) I then must pull out at a stack of $350 (-$200).

Again, this will cause you to leave good games sometimes when you shouldn't and will therefore hurt your winrate (again assuming that you leave bad games with or without this rule). This is especially bad because if you are having a winning session it is more likely on average that you are in a good game, so leaving early will hurt your winrate even more. You also rob yourself of opportunities to take a shot at higher stakes when you're having a big winning session (although obviously on your tiny bankroll I wouldn't recommend this!).

Bankroll accumilation: I started with $200, I have a ceiling of $800 bankroll. Any profits above an $800 stack are split. 20% goes to building my bankroll while the other 80% goes towards personal spending and bills.

This is probably the worst of all. You are taking money out of your bankroll when you win, but replenishing nothing when you lose. This tactic will massively increase your RoR. Imagine you play 10 sessions with this approach:

/-------------------------------\
| Session | Win/Loss | Bankroll |
|---------+----------+----------|
|     1   | -$50     |  $1050   |
|     2   | -$75     |  $975    |
|     3   | +$100    |  $1075   |
|     4   | +$25     |  $1100   |
|     5   | -$200    |  $900    |
|     6   | -$75     |  $775    |
|     7   | -$200    |  $575    |
|     8   | +$1500   |  $1355   |
|     9   | -$200    |  $1155   |
|    10   | -$200    |  $955    |
\-------------------------------/

Now look at these same sessions without this rule (so always keeping 100% of your profit):

/-------------------------------\
| Session | Win/Loss | Bankroll |
|---------+----------+----------|
|     1   | -$50     |  $1050   |
|     2   | -$75     |  $975    |
|     3   | +$100    |  $1075   |
|     4   | +$25     |  $1100   |
|     5   | -$200    |  $900    |
|     6   | -$75     |  $775    |
|     7   | -$200    |  $575    |
|     8   | +$1500   |  $2075   |
|     9   | -$200    |  $1875   |
|    10   | -$200    |  $1675   |
\-------------------------------/

This is the difference between being up $575 or down $145 on the same results, a $720 difference, that's 65% of your original bankroll! It's extremely unlikely that your winrate will be able to outrun the effect of this on your bankroll and you will be more likely to go broke, more quickly.

All expenses must come out of bankroll such as food, drink, petrol (gas) and toll fees.

This will obviously also hurt your winrate, making it harder to reduce your RoR.

So, apologies for my own novel, but ultimately my advice is do not play this game on an $1100 bankroll unless you want to buyin short, change some of your rules about how you manage that bankroll and are super confident that you're crushing this game for a massive winrate (or don't care about a high RoR).

Your best option would be to figure out how you can inject more cash into your bankroll (I'm assuming there aren't small live games you could play and you say you can't play online due to bad internet - maybe that's something you could work to resolve) so that you can play with something more like 20 buyins (at least) and enjoy a more reasonable RoR and a better chance of being in the game long enough to find out if you're actually beating it over a statistically significant sample. Remember, 100,000 hands in a live game could take 5,000 hours to reach, so even if you play two 10 hour sessions every week, this would take almost 5 years!

1

You should maximize your winning by entering with $300, 100 BB. Entering with less forces you to be very selective with your cards, even in late position, which is not what you may want in cash game.

I personnaly don't like rules about when to leave, because it may put you on autopilot and neglect to think about what is really happening in the session. More, it puts a lot more pressure on your cards/decisions and you will not be able to play your best poker.

Good luck :)

  • Thanks for the comment. $300 does make more sense but at this stage would put even more pressure on me as it means less stacks available for loss. I am TAG anyway. Again thank you for the post. – Josh Jul 7 '15 at 12:59
  • Being TAG in cash game will not lead you anywhere. Either you will win little or loose a lot. – disco beat Jul 7 '15 at 13:21
  • @discobeat that's kind of a sweeping generalisation. I've sat in plenty of live cash games where a TAG style would be extremely effective/profitable - it depends on the specific table you're at. I don't think any single combination of tight/loose and aggressive/passive can be considered optimal all the time, you need to adapt your style to the game in front of you. Most consider loose passive = fish (and in many games it is), but again I've seen plenty of games (for example ones full of calling stations who turn their hands into bluffs when they miss) where a LP style would be very effective. – 3N1GM4 Dec 14 '16 at 9:15

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