“Proper bankroll management is key to becoming a successful poker player.”

We’ve all heard this before, and continue to hear this no matter at which stage of our poker careers we are, because bankroll management is one of the most important concepts to put into practice.

Yet no matter how many times this concept is emphasised, some still struggle with this principle. Poker teaches us discipline, patience and focus amongst other key transferrable skills. Yet does it teach us the fundamentals of managing the vital bank roll?

In this blog post, I am going to explore the topic of bank roll management, in particular whether different personality types affect the way in which we, poker players, view and manage our poker bankroll.

What exactly is a bankroll “habitude”?

Well, it’s me on the look-out for free rolls.
It’s you qualifying for a major event via satellite.
It’s the grinder who leaps up the stakes with the mission of recuperating losses after an unforgiving session.
It’s simply the attitudes and behaviours towards managing a bankroll.
Even though good players change their style depending on table dynamics, personality types determine the dominant traits in a player. For example, a person who is generally not afraid to take risks may take a loose approach at the tables. Similarly, our lifestyle choices and personality affects our approach to personal finance.One definition of ‘personality’ is, “the organization of the individual's distinguishing character traits, attitudes, or habits.” In poker, our personality affects our main approach to the table as poker players. But, does our personality type affect our attitude towards bankroll management? 

Money Personality & Poker :

Just like personality types tend to affect the dominant trait in player types (ie TAGs), personality also dictates our individual response to money!
There are some serious spenders out there, selective savers, people who never even look at their bank statements and everything in between. They are from all walks of life - from curious kids opening their first bank accounts to the experienced parents looking to finance a larger family home. Despite the diversity, clients all land at my desk with one dilemma in common: money management.
During a financial review, the main things discussed are income vs expenditure, savings & investments and spending habits. This helps to paint a picture of the financial situation and helps identify their money personality.

The main types are:
Big Spenders: love to spend, are not afraid of debt or taking big risks.
Tight Savers: shop around for the best rates, look for ways to save money on everything, are cautious when considering taking risks, only spend if necessary.
Debtors: never look at income vs expenditure, don’t keep track of what money is being spent, don’t have clear financial goals.
Smart Investors: knowledgeable in finance, up to date with economic climate, conscious of their financial situation & make decisions accordingly.

Although personalities can’t be changed, we can certainly modify our behaviours towards spending, saving and investing. This leads on to the next and most important part of a financial review: setting financial goals and aspirations. Goals can be as small as saving for a City Break or as big as purchasing a property. No matter how modest or extravagant a financial goal may be, hopes and aspirations can motivate you to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that the goals can be accomplished.

Now how does this have anything to do with poker?

In life being able to manage personal finance is important no matter whether an individual’s money personality falls into the ‘big spender’ or ‘tight saver’ category. Likewise, being able to manage a poker bank roll is also important regardless of whether a player has the tendency to be a TAG or LAG. Even in poker, reviewing the whole situation can help to put things in perspective. For example, are you playing at the right limit/buy-in? When tired or on tilt are you walking away from the tables or wasting the bankroll? Are the Bankroll Management guidelines being respected and followed? In the same way life inspires us to have financial goals, the beautiful game inspires us to have poker goals! Managing money in an appropriate fashion and making small changes where required can make a world of a difference and in some cases can help us achieve our goals sooner. This may take form of simply setting up a small weekly payment to a savings account, or in poker maybe going back down the stakes.

The Pragmatics of  BankRoll Management:.

One important aspect to note is that the poker bankroll must be separate from personal finance, and be viewed as two separate entities. When I first started learning about poker I had no idea about bankroll management and didn’t realise how important it is. Luckily, it’s covered in the PSO  guide:

There are other factors which affect our approach to bankroll management apart from our money personality:

1. Poker goals & aspirations
2. Player type: recreational/serious/professional?
3. Game specialty: cash/MTT/SNG
4. Dominant player type

There are several advantages of practicing good bankroll management and following the guidelines:

1. Withstand downswings & variance
2. Less likely to deposit again
3. Play at the right level: start low and progress to higher stakes gradually
4. Helps to improve level of skill
5. Limits losses!
6. Keep track of progress over time

Once having established money personality, the main point of a financial review is to obtain an overview of a financial situation and create an objective action plan to follow. The same approach can be applied to bankroll management in poker. If in general you are a ‘saver’ or ‘investor’ in your personal finances, then it’s likely that you naturally take a more conservative approach to managing your poker bankroll.

A review would consist of:

1. An overview of progress made over time.
2. Recognize your money personality to acknowledge whether the same tendencies and habits are reflected in your approach to managing your poker bankroll.
3. Review/set poker goals
4. Determine whether you need to make any adjustments based on how you currently manage your bankroll.

To conclude, I think that just like most things in life personality is a contributing factor towards perspective and ways of doing things. In poker recognising our money personality can help to make the right adjustments in order to optimise the way we manage our bankroll, alongside following the recommended bankroll management guidelines.

Remember to stay objective! 

Until next time!