On Poker: You aren't a pro, so don't treat your bankroll like you are

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On the topic of starting and running up a poker bankroll, there is no shortage of advice out there. But in a nutshell, the most commonly held idea is that a player is going to commit to poker over the long haul and truly make a go of it.

That plan probably pans out for less than a fraction of 1 percent of the players who ever take a seat in a live game. It's 2018 ... time to understand that for the overwhelming majority of us, poker is simply a chance to add a little bit more income to our daily lives. Plus it's fun.

It's much more practical to approach your bankroll with an "Everyday Joe" mentality. So consider this train of thought:

Tiny wounds: Whatever number is out there that you can afford to lose without it altering your life in any major way is a good place to start. That can range from $200 (you probably can't get any lower than this) to $1,000 to $10,000 -- to $1 million, if you're Bill Gates. When you do this, going broke -- which will happen from time to time -- isn't that big of a deal.

Back when online poker was booming, I probably made a dozen or so $250 reloads before I finally started making consistent money.


Proper stakes: You can't win a tournament in the first hour, but you most certainly can lose one. The same can be said of building that starting bankroll. A $2,500 bankroll can keep you in a small-stakes cash game for a really long time, but it can disappear in a single hand if you decide to sit down in a game with the big boys. Although, going back to the previous point, I might consider doing that if I built the $2,500 up from $100.

Loss limit: I've played in plenty of cash games where I've been felted inside the first hour. And, of course, I bought back in. However, I refuse to do it a second time. Whether your misfortune is self-administered or downright horrible luck, it's not your night. Retreat and regroup.

Bank it: There is an old-school notion that you should never leave a game that you are beating, provided the conditions of the game remain the same. This is phony baloney. If you start a game with $300 and run that number up to $1,000 or more, call it a night. This is the type of win that can help build long-term confidence, and it's not worth running into a cooler situation where all of those good vibes can disappear in a single hand.

Cash out: When you are keeping a legit bankroll, keep that money for poker only. But there's no rule that it has to stay that way. The grind can begin anew, and money is money. If I have $10,000 in my poker bankroll and I need $9,000 to put a new roof on my house, that's the bank.

Say goodbye: This is a bit of an extreme example, but it's worthy to note. Let's say you hit a big one and run deep in a major buy-in tournament for more money than you ever could have imagined. Bank it all, and forget all notions of making a run in the high-stakes game. You are ahead ... stay that way.

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