Bankroll Management during Coronacrisis (English)

Bankroll Management during Coronacrisis (English)


Imagine owning a hardware store and customer walking through the door telling you he wants to buy 500 pieces of padlocks. As the store owner, you should be delighted to hear that – now you just let your staff to pick those up and get paid. But what if your inventory only has 200 padlocks? You might make the sale, or the customer might leave to check the competition. That’s a big sale missed, and missed opportunities like that can cost you a lot in the long run in business.


The same thing applies to any poker game. Your inventory in poker is your bankroll, and you can miss on a big sale if there’s a juicy game going at a higher limit than what you can afford to play. Sure you can just gamble it big and take a shot with only a few buy-ins, but it’s guaranteed to break your bankroll at some point if you don’t have any risk management in place by taking big shots.


Should you then just stick to conservative rules like having 50 or even 100 buy-ins at all times before jumping into a game? The general answer is it depends on the situation. If you want to be smart about poker, you need to take into account many variables. In this post we dive into a few efficient strategies to use in your bankroll management during times of soft games, like the ones we’re having now due to Corona lockdown taking place in many countries.


Expert poker players like the Pro Team members of Beasts of Poker are extremely good at getting the best of situations like this, and that’s why we asked for their advice on BRM. Whether you play recreationally, as a side income or as a full-time grinder, you can start applying these strategies in your game right away


The art of calculated shot-taking


In poker your goal should be to win as much money as possible, at least if you aim to play winning poker. This can be achieved by making better decisions than your competition both at the tables and before you open the tables. Sometimes the most important decisions occur outside the tables. We’re talking about things like in what kind of mood you start your sessions, which games and tables you choose to play, at what time of day you play your session etc. Shot-taking comes into the picture when you see a really good game going, but it’s above your normal limit.


Having a comfortable balance in your poker accounts not only gives you peace of mind, but also makes it less likely for you to go broke. If you’re keeping 5k EUR balance on your poker account and see a good game in NL100, jumping in is no biggie. But what about NL200, or NL400? It will be a borderline decision, no matter how much your estimated edge at the table would be. And if you take the shot, how many buy-ins should be your stop loss?


To answer questions like this, one needs to have a clear picture of what they’re after in poker and how big their risk tolerance is. For a risk-averse person, taking a shot even to NL200 in that situation might not be the right choice, as they might play worse due to worrying about the money. For a risk-neutral person, taking a shot with a stop loss of 2 buy-ins might make sense. If the game is really good and your risk appetite is high, you could argue for sitting down to NL400 with a stop loss of 2 buy-ins. In the latter two cases, you need to be prepared to rebuild at the lower levels in case the shot doesn’t go well.


The most important thing in all shot-taking is having a clear plan. Assess the risk and possible rewards before making a plan, and take into account your own situation and risk appetite. Holding yourself accountable is a must if you decide to take the shot, as many players have gone broke by not following their plan if things go south at the tables.


Advice on BRM from TheJudas regarding taking shots at higher levels


Taking a shot is hard. You need to be able to estimate your expected win-rate,risk of ruin and determine whether you should sell some action (and if so, how much) and probably have a decent plan for the stop-loss. Once you’ve figured out all of the above you still have to make sure that you're able to perform well and if things go sour - stick to your stop-loss. Personally, that is something that I still struggle with, especially when it comes to live-poker. Leaving a fun and good live game because it's a reasonable thing to do BRM wise is all fine and good in theory but a lot easier said than done - especially when you have a drunken recreational player who has stacked you five times in a row and a table full of friends roasting you about it. It’s truly no fun at all, but I’ve come to believe it is one of the major factors that separates the ones who are going to make it in this industry - and those who are not. So, expect the best but prepare for the worst - and if (when) it happens, STICK TO YOUR STOP LOSS. You will thank yourself the next day - believe me.


-‘TheJudas’, mid to high stakes PLO crusher & Beasts Of Poker Team Pro


Bankroll management for live poker players when playing online


Live poker has a slower pace and much less hands per hour than online poker. Your average live poker table is also much more likely to be a social game than your average online table. As the online games have a tougher competition, it also has more variance due to lower winrates.

If you’re used to soft live poker games, most likely you didn’t need a very strict bankroll management to stay afloat. That changes drastically when you transfer to online poker though – having 15 or 20 buy-ins for your standard level can vanish online in a single day at worst! Even the best players on PokerStars have gone through 30-50 buy-in downswings at some point of their career. Losing 50 buy-ins in live poker doesn’t occur that often, even if you’re not as skilled as the top players at your games.


A great rule of thumb is that you will face pretty much the same level of competition at online stakes 10 times smaller than liver poker. Playing 2/5 NLHE live is as tough as 0.25/5 NLHE online. Therefore it’s recommended to start by playing online at much lower stakes than your usual stakes in live poker. Once you have around 20-30k hands under your belt online and the results are good, you can start to consider moving up levels.


Shot-taking for winning online grinders


There’s no perfect answer for the question when you should pull the trigger and take a shot at one or two levels above your current stakes. It comes down to multiple factors that sweeten the reward and lessen the risk of taking that shot:


  • Your recent performance at the tables

  • The perceived skill edge you would have at the table

  • Your bankroll

  • Your status in poker (secure job and poker as a hobby, poker as a side income, full-time player)

  • Your ability and willingness to rebuild at lower stakes if the shot goes wrong


Let’s say that you play your usual stakes, NL200 or PLO200 with a 50 buy-in bankroll. If you see a soft table running with blinds of 2/4 EUR, taking a 3 buy-in shot equals risking 6 buy-ins at your usual stakes. Let’s see the most usual scenarios of how it will play out:


Scenario 1. You lose the 3 buy-ins, and your full downside is realized. 12% of your bankroll was spent on the spot, and you need to take a step back and rebuild at your usual stakes.

Scenario 2. The first session is successful, and you can keep pressing your edge and try to establish yourself to play regularly at this level in the future sessions.

Scenario 3. The game is good and you go on a mini-heater, ending up with a 5 to 10 buy-in win at the new level. This gives you some room to look for similar soft tables at the new level or even the one above (NL600 or PLO600).

Scenario 4. You lose the 3 buy-ins, but you don’t step down in stakes due to tilt. Instead, you keep playing in the game, possibly losing more and putting your bankroll in jeopardy.


While all of these scenarios have happened to different players, scenario 4 is the one that we want to avoid like plague. If you’re disciplined enough to not end up in scenario 4, by all means take the shot if other factors are supporting that decision.


Final words


Simply put, shot-taking is all about having a great upside and protecting your downside. While many factors go into deciding when to take a shot at higher stakes, it’s ultimately up to you if you have the discipline to make a plan and follow through with that plan. Don’t become one of those has-been poker players who couldn’t stick to their plan! Instead, use common sense in evaluating your edge, the potential gains and how much you can put at risk. Poker Series


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