Managing your finances is key to long-term success in any business, and the same can be said for online poker. The stakes are high, and there are plenty of sharks circling, so you need to be smart about how you manage your financial resources. If you have a bad losing session or lose several big pots in a row, it has the potential to throw your entire budget into disarray.
Hence, when you aren’t careful, the excitement and adrenaline of playing competitive poker with real stakes can lead to reckless behavior. Letting your emotions get the best of you could lead to betting more than you can afford or putting an entire evening’s winnings into one unwise bet in hopes of recouping them with a substantial return.
But by following these six tips, you can keep those losses to an absolute minimum and get on the path back to profitability as quickly as possible. Even if you’re a profitable long-term player with a great ROI and WPR, keeping careful tabs on your bankroll will make sure that continues for as long as possible.
Have a Limited Buy-In Bankroll
When starting out, you’ll almost certainly be playing low-stakes cash games, where you’re likely to be dealing with a lot of recreational players. Even if you’re playing at a high-stakes poker site, it’s still a good idea to stick to low-stakes cash games. Low stakes are a great place to learn the game and get a feel for how different players will bet and play.
You’ll also be able to build up your bankroll without risking huge amounts of money in the process. A cash game bankroll should only be a couple of buy-ins in size. This will help you avoid having a single bad session cause too much damage to your finances.
Be Careful with Your Big Bets
Once you’ve built up a decent bankroll, the next step is to start playing at the higher stakes games like tournaments. You’ll be up against much tougher opposition at tournaments, and you’ll have to be extremely careful with your big bets. While you can win a lot more money from tournaments than from cash games, you should be careful even if you have good poker hands.
The higher stakes also bring in more recreational players, who will play a lot looser than the average low-stakes player. Passive players are your best friends at the lower levels, but you need to be on the lookout for aggressive and loose play at the higher stakes. This is particularly true in the early stages of tournaments, when the blind levels are low.
Know When to Fold ’Em
Despite everything you can do to manage your bankroll, there are still going to be times when you end up losing money. You’re also almost certainly going to have “losing sessions,” even if you’re a profitable long-term player. The key to bouncing back from these losses is knowing when to fold ’em and walk away from the table.
If you’ve had a bad session, it’s important to remember that it’s just that – a bad session. It doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly a terrible player. Poker is a game of variance, and you’re going to have “losing sessions” from time to time. It’s important to ride these out and not be tempted to chase your losses. It’s not the stock market, so investment wisdoms may not work here.
Keep Track of How Much You’ve Won/Lost
You need to keep track of how much you’ve won and lost over a particular period. It’s easy to forget that you’ve just lost a couple of hundred dollars and go straight back to playing at your normal stakes. This is a sure-fire way to run your bankroll dry in a couple of sessions. Keeping track of your winnings and losses will also help you decide when to increase or decrease your stakes.
If you’ve won a lot over a certain period and you’re running low, it might be a good time to go up in stakes. If you’ve lost a lot over a certain period, it might be a good idea to go down in stakes for a little while.
Don’t Rely Solely on Blind Play
Let’s say that you’ve followed all the tips above and are making a nice profit while keeping a close eye on your bankroll. Then, suddenly, you hit a bad streak, and your profits start to disappear. It’s tempting to try and ride out the bad run, but this is the worst thing you can do.
Instead, you should trim your stakes to let the “bad run” run its course while keeping an eye on your winnings and losses to make sure it doesn’t turn into a big loss. When your bad run turns around, you’ll be able to go back to playing at your normal stakes and winnings. If you struggle to ride out a bad run, you should consider taking a break from poker for a little while. This can help you clear your head and make sure you don’t get tempted to chase your losses.
Don’t Get Hooked by Big Losses
When you’re starting out, it can be tough to ride out bad runs and avoid getting hooked by big losses. But if you can get through the toughest times and come out with a positive bankroll, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful online poker player. You should focus on positive thoughts as a continuous losing streak can cause low self-esteem issue, which is bad for a poker player because he needs to be confident.
If you’re struggling to ride out a bad run, remember that it’s not a reflection of your skill as a player. Poker is a game of variance, and sometimes the best player will lose and the worst player will win. All you can do is make sure that you manage your bankroll properly and follow these six tips, and there’s no reason why you can’t be successful in online poker.
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