To be a successful, ie profitable player in the long run you must do two things consistently:
- only play in games where you have an advantage sufficient to overcome the rake and your other expenses
- only play at stakes which do not jeopardize your poker bankroll
Most recreational Texas Holdem players underestimate the amount of variance they will encounter when gambling and consequently they play at stakes too high for their bankroll. When they have a bad run (which everyone does from time to time) they get wiped out. This risk can easily be controlled by dividing your poker bankroll into twenty equal parts and only playing with one part at a time. If you are a winning player it will be very unusual for you to lose all your cash playing this way. If you are a losing player then no bankroll will ever be enough for you but you should get a decent amount of play before all your cash is gone. If you play a game with a smaller amount of variance such as pot limit omaha8 then risking up to 10% of your poker bankroll on a hand is acceptable.
There are four ways you can increase the size of your poker bankroll:
- by winning money from other players
- from freeroll tournaments
- from deposit bonuses awarded by the poker sites
- topping up from your own resources
Initial Deposit Bonuses
All the sites work hard to make the headline figures for their initial deposit bonuses look very attractive. However, when you actually read the tems and conditions for them they often turn out to require play at reasonably high stakes. Players wanting to try a build a bankroll from a modest start will end up disappointed if they aren’t careful. A great site to begin your poker career with is Poker Stars. They offer a 100% match deposit of up to $50 which clears after only 500FPPs.
I suggest new players shouldn’t expect too much from these initial deposit bonuses. The best thing is to put a small investment into one of my recommended sites and see if you enjoy the game. If you find that your bankroll eventually disappears you will have at least gained some valuable information about your ability as a poker player.
Topping Up Your Bankroll
The fact is that poker is a zero sum game, or in fact a less than zero sum game once the rake has been extracted. It will always produce more losers than winners. These people will eventually need to replenish their bankroll.
If you play for relaxation or are principally a social player then constantly topping up your poker bankroll may not matter to you. This type of player can legitimately regard the price of their buy-ins as the cost of their entertainment. That’s fine.
If being a winning player is important to you, you need to face an unpleasant fact:
The most likely reason a person will lose 20 buy-ins at the $5 level at any of the online sites is that they are a bad player. A very bad run of cards is a possible explanation; but over 99% of the time it will be a lack of skill that is responsible.
You need to work on your game or you are certain to be topping up again and again!