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Introduction | Learn the Game | Free Money | Bankrolls and Variance | Bankroll Strategy | Bankroll Strategy (continued) | Example Bankroll Growth

Bankrolls and Variance

Poker is a game of skill in the long run. In the short term, luck plays a huge factor. Even the best players will have long losing streaks. This is part of the game and one that every player needs to try to come to terms with.

The fact that your bankroll can fall as well as rise is known as variance. The more aggressive your style, the greater your variance will be. But however cautious you are, you will experience ups and downs.

For the beginner, this can be easy to ignore. You sit down with $10 and win a couple of big hands. All of a sudden you are winning by $30 and the game seems easy. For some lucky individuals this run can continue for some time, and by the time it ends they have enough cash to ride out any bad spell. But for every lucky player, there is an unlucky one and if you start with $10 on a 50c/$1 table, chances are you will go bust before you win anything.

This is where bankroll is critical. You need to have a bankroll that allows you to have a bad run without going bust. If you go bust, you never get to see the upswing that will inevitably follow if you are playing solid poker.

So when you get your free chips, you could sit straight down on a 50c/$1 table and gamble it all at one go. One way or another you will see quick results. But as you can only get your free chips once, do you want to risk them in this way?

The following table is very conservative and most players operate on lower ratios, but you need something like the following bankrolls to play at the following levels of Limit Holdem

Stakes Big Bet Rack Bankroll Rack/Bankroll Ratio
10c-20c 0.20 10 50 5
25c-50c 0.50 25 125 5
50c-$1 1.00 50 250 5
$1-$2 2.00 100 500 5

By “Rack” I mean the amount you buy in with on the table. By “Bankroll” I mean your total amount in cashier.

The basic principles above are that you should buy in for at least 50 times the big bet, and have a bankroll of 250 times the big bet. Some people will advise a Bankroll of 100 times the big bet is sufficient, and in the vast majority of cases this is right. Its really a question of how much risk you are willing to take – in my case I take as little as I can get away with.

Don’t let your ego get the better of you, or let impatience take over. Both can be fatal to poker players. Set your bankroll requirements and stick to them.

Note that “big bet” and “big blind” are different!! Big Bet is double the Big Blind.

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