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Poker Bankroll Considerations

For a Professional Player

"Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."
-- Henry David Thoreau

Poker bankroll definitions: 1) Sum total of money a player has in the world with which to play poker. 2) Poker Bankroll Management: the science of playing in the most sensible and favorable way based upon how much money you have.#

Several formulas exist for how to calculate a proper poker bankroll for a person playing limit poker games. While these take into consideration variance and a projected win rate, when considering bankroll requirements for a certain person to play a certain game, calculations also must consider:

1) A player's specific abilities and style. A winning player can be a winning player in many, many different ways. Two people can earn the exact same amount of money over a five year span, while earning it with hugely different playing styles and different fluctuations -- and thus needing different size bankrolls.

2) The nature of the game in question. A 10/20 Holdem game in Atlantic City is different than one in San Jose and both are different than one in Los Angeles. In fact, a 10/20 game at Hollywood Park could be very different than 10/20 games at the Commerce Casino. To think one calculation can cover all these is incorrect. Each universe requires a different bankroll level. Thinking one number can be used generically for any sort of 10/20 game is naive at best..

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3) The question of bankroll requirements will always depend on a player's life circumstances. Does the player have a job that does no more than cover expenses? Does the player have a job that enables them to bank 100 big bets a month after expenses? Fifteen big bets? How easily will a player be able to re-establish the bankroll? This consideration matters because if a player can't reestablish a bankroll, then this player should move down in limit after losing some percentage of it.

While a player may have been initially bankrolled adequately, if they take heavy losses, they should expect to start doing better, but just like in roulette, what happened in the previous roll does not have an effect on what happens next. If a player with a $4500 10/20 bankroll loses $3700, they sure shouldn't be thinking they still are adequately bankrolled for 10/20! In other words, only a portion of a players bankroll should be considered a bankroll for the intended game. For example, if a fairly typical 10/20 player with a $10,000 bankroll loses $5000, they should start playing 6/12, and if they lose another couple thousand, they should start playing 3/6.

Poker Bankroll4) If a player doesn't have a job, and is playing professionally, they need either a bankroll plus other assets set aside for living expenses, or to understand that their bankroll has to pay living expenses even while losing. This sort of player, depending on life circumstances again, should have roughly twice the bankroll of a player with a job or other assets.

Solid, winning players with a $10,000 bankroll playing 10/20 should likely never fluctuate below $5000. That is in the ballpark of the $4500 number many folks suggest for a theoretical 10/20 bankroll, but in the real world different concepts need to be considered. Essentially, a 10/20 bankroll should be on top of 6/12 one, which is on top of a 3/6 one, which is on top of a 2/4 one. If you step down in limit after your entire 10/20 roll is gone, you still should have a full 6/12 bankroll.

The worst thing a positive expectation player can do is be out of action. A sensible approach to bankroll is absolutely critical. The question isn't of a steadier ride -- the issue is whether you will be along for the ride at all.

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