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Bankroll Building Tips

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  • Bankroll Building Tips

    This is not particularly well organized, and the amount of experience I have is debatable, but I just wanted to post these -- see what you think and maybe help some of the people looking to build bankrolls from nothing or almost nothing. Take all this with a grain of salt if you like, and I hope it helps!

    - At low bankroll levels, say, under $ 20, playing cash games does not make sense. SnGs are more profitable: my hypothesis is that weak players prefer the promise of large gains from small buy-ins. Or perhaps they have been watching too much tournament poker.. either way, the fields are very soft and even on the final table one or two of the big stacks will be a maniac (i.e. good source of chips). My advice on playing them is to tighten up but play more aggressively; ideally, get it in preflop with AK for example. They'll be raising hands like A6 massively and "feel" pot-committed very easily.

    - Early on, $ 0.25 SnGs are your bread and butter. The fields are soft, the blind levels 10-15 (depending on whether they are 45 or 90 players); they don't take too long; you'll get some final table experience and a large variety of opponents, and you can multitable them without too much trouble. ABC tag poker will be real profitable at this level.

    - In these SnGs, play incredibly tight. Like 20/10 tight (in case you don't know these terms - download the 60-day PokerTracker and learn to use, at the minimum, VPIP and PFR stats in calculating ranges). The reason for this is donks have no positional awareness so they'll be playing a wide range of hands all the time, and you will be dominated far too often. Tricky plays are useless; on a JJ6 flop a bluff will often be called by any two cards. Your good hands will be paid off handsomely; everything else is useless. The blinds move too fast to make marginal preflop calls with suited connectors equitable.

    - On preflop raises -- early on you'll need ~4 bbs to get respect and some folders; later on I'd scale down to 3 bbs (like 90, 150, 300) and, when the blinds reach 100/200 or so, 2.5bbs (so 500). It's handy to have this on your bet-slider.

    - Play for first. Always. Only the top 7 or 12 get paid, and as usual the top spots *really* get paid. If you're on a shortstack you can open your shove/fold ranges; it's much better to lose in this way than to get blinded out. On the other hand, a stack of ~5K or so is a reasonable way to enter the final table (45 players, at least). Most players see no difference between AT, AJ, and AQ. Make yourself one of the exceptions and you'll be on the right end of 80/20 type situations.

    - Keep records. A simple excel spreadsheet is great, and it'll allow you to track how you're doing over a large sample. You should have a good ROI with these SnGs, provided you stick to the rules and play hyper-aggressively when you have a hand. Later as you expand your range to include heads up SnGs and some MTTs, you will be able to compare the profitability of different games.

    - Bankroll management: my basic guidelines are approximately (minimum) 200 fixed limit hold'em; 20 buy-ins for no-limit hold'em; 25 buy-ins for SnGs and 60 buy-ins for MTTs. There's a little leeway here, especially at lower stakes, but you should be grinding within your limits. If you want to play a big MTT, play a satellite within your limits instead.

    - Have a plan. For example, I started with $ 0.79 from freerolls, and my plan was to play 10 cent games (like the turbo 360 player and the $ 0.10 facebook league) until I had over $ 6 and coul play the 25 cent sngs. Then I planned to play the $ 1 / $ 1.5 1-table SnGs (heads up, knockout etc) until I could play large MTTs. You can change your plan, but having one increases your chances of long-term success a lot. Have a long-term goal (like $10K). Don't withdraw small amounts (under $100 I guess) -- it's just mathematical nonsense, because the time it takes you to accumulate that with a small bankroll is probably more than the time it takes to earn it at McDonalds.

    - Download PokerStove. This, along with PT3 or HEM (statistic-tracking software; google them) should form part of fundamental poker toolkit. You can do the maths on maniacs' ranges, etc. As a big-stack it's often profitable to call from, say, the big blind with almost any two cards -- T7 beats AK about 35% of the time. Playing mathematically correct is good when your stack is not at stake.

    - On playing small/medium pocket pairs: generally, play slow. Everything except QQ+ is probably a coinflip preflop (against AK, for example QQ is only 4% better than 22). Unless you know for certain your opponent may have A6 or something it's not correct to call with JJ all in preflop. Later in the tourney you should play them more aggressively, but at the beginning even with TT you'll be set-mining - limp in pots, preferably multi-way, and hope to hit a set on the flop.

    - On playing Aces: limping is okay with medium kickers, and AT/AJ are good hands if you're shortstacked. However, AJ vs AQ or AQ vs AK is the crappiest way to leave a tournament. If you are faced with a preflop reraise or think you might be outkickered on an A-high flop, folding is definitely a fair option.

    - On large heads up pots: try not to ship it without better than one pair. This is a general rule that has saved my ass more times than I can count.

    - Play cautious, particularly early on. For example, I'll often play A8s in late position if the pot is un-raised. Otherwise it's an instant fold. Stereotypically "trouble" hands like KT and QJ are really going to depend on your knowledge of your opponents; if you have nothing, err towards being cautious.

    - Loosen up a lot (on the final table). It's hard to put numbers on this but one good strategy is to change the settings in PT3 (not sure of the equivalent in HEM) to only show stats from the actual (that is, current) blind level. Stealing blinds is a really interesting dynamic, hard to explain in a post like this, but you should get some experience with it over time. Generally, avoid bluff/rebluff/rerebluff situations. You want the size of the pot to correspond to the strength of your hand.

    - Make use of the inbuilt Note and Label features for PS. Weird hands; uncharacteristic preflop raises etc should go in the notes. Some players have really weird and exploitable postflop tendencies, like betting large with weak hands and slowplaying strong ones. Others will vary preflop bet sizing -- if you see something like 5x preflop (just did with 250 at 25/50 blinds) it's probably AA (it was). Conversely, don't vary bet sizing with your own hand strength. Maybe the donks at this level wouldn't exploit it, but you want a tight and sound game to become second nature, and it's good to get into good habits.

    - Early/middle/late strategy: early on you should call sometimes preflop with speculative hands like 67s, or suited aces which can hit nut flushes. A good rule of thumb is the 5-10 rule; if a preflop call represents 5% or less of your stack, call hoping to see a good flop; if over 10%, fold, and in between use your discretion (but probably fold, unless you're happy with your postflop skills). The early stage is probably the easiest to play since the field is so soft; look to double up early against maniacs and so on. Middle stages are the hardest for me -- perseverance is important, try to control pots and not risk too little on TPTK-type* hands. Also, if you're a big stack, resist the temptation to take out small stacks indiscriminately. 2-3 doubleups are decent heading into the final table; the initial chip leader almost never wins! Be conservative, playing strong hands aggressively. Late (but before the final table) blinds will start being dangerous; stealing becomes important but also be ready to make large folds occasionally on dangerous boards.

    - Final tables are an entirely different paragraph's worth of thought. You always want to go for first place, but often this is as much a question of outlasting loose cannons as accumulating a lot of chips. Always be hesitant to play coinflips; at this level you should have much more of an edge than 99 vs AK provides. Try not to let outside factors, like the fact that you want to have dinner or something, influence your play (never play to finish the game as soon as possible). If there are three players left and one of them will lose within 1-2 hands because of the blinds, do *NOT* shove AK. Fold it if you have to. Don't even shove QQ for that matter -- just wait it out. Winning a tournament is not just about accumulating chips, it's also about making smart decisions about risk/reward. Also, loosen up a lot as the size of the table shrinks. You can raise any ace heads up, for example, and you should. AQ and AJ become more powerful as the risk of domination lessens. Find flaws in your opponent games and work to exploit them (e.g. bluffs all in on the button to steal blinds ... expand your calling range. or doesn't adjust tightness... steal their blinds!! this is actually a huge one). C-bets are like a magical weapon at these games; you make a pfr and bet the flop and your opponents are basically incapable of suspecting you're bluffing. C-bet every flop you raise to if you're in position and it's checked to you. Conversely, respect the power of position. If you think someone is c-betting light a lot, let them have it most of the time, and when you have a hand check to induce a c-bet, then reraise. If this works you can check-raise light sometimes to keep them honest. But also remember -- if your opponent is unnaturally tight, say, when you're three handed, your JK is probably not good if they shove. It might be in a normal three handed game but if they're playing their 9-handed game, adjust to that!

    - Finally, some ideas on variance. Although these SnGs are soft as hell, you're still not likely to cash every one of them, maybe not even half. Most of my success has come from making it deep when I make it in the money at all. Remember also that you will hit dry spells, sometimes extended ones. I went 10 tourneys without cashing once. I looked at my excel spreadsheet, read my notes, and realized I was doing too many things - watching movies etc while playing. This is reasonable in the early stages of a tournament, but once you make it to the final two tables or soyou should be looking to develop reads on your opponents. And if you do hit a dry spell and don't think your game is at fault -- persevere! If you're grinding SnGs you'll be much more prone to variance than a cash game player; but at these stakes it's probably more profitable as well. It's also great practice at all stages of the tourney and will definitely help you out with MTTs and the higher stakes.

    good luck!


    * TPTK means top pair top kicker like AK on AQ8 flop. This is much more dangerous than AK on A26 flop because it's quite possible someone has AQ or A8 for two pair.
    Last edited by jf70; Tue Jun 28, 2011, 12:05 PM.

  • #2
    ?? great post and agree 100% the 25 cent sngs-- are the best bang 4 ure buck- on any site---umbup:


    • #3
      So if I see you in a .25 sng is this how you will play ?
      Also your advice in these tournaments is good.
      Last edited by pokerstar671; Thu Jun 23, 2011, 01:06 AM.
      2 Time Bracelet Winner


      • #4
        nice post very educative
        well anyway i want to get someone who have time and nerves to help me learn BRM i can't play with limits(BRM) i always want something bigger,if i am staked i play with the limits i am given but if i play with my money (currently 0 because i didnt respected BRM) i lose them all



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