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How I Never Go Broke

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  • How I Never Go Broke

    Never go broke. That is the promise I made to myself 6 years ago.

    Sometime ago Al Spath asked me to share my bankroll management feelings with the group. For those of you who don't know Al, he is a PSO faculty member who specializes in teaching beginners. The beginning player will either get over the hump and become a consistent winning player or he will get tired of the losses and fall by the wayside. Al is a big help to all players at this level.

    I loved this game from the start and decided when I retired I wanted to play poker full time. To do this I had to be a winning player. I didn't have to make enough money to live on, I just had to continue to show positive results so that my plan made sense.

    For the benefit of the new players let me explain bankroll management and the theory of "gamblers ruin". If you play a game where you have a positive advantage but have the possibility of losing, your long term chances for success will be directly proportional to the size of your bankroll. Even a casino with their built in advantage will go bust if they dont have adequate cash to sustain the inevitable ups and downs.

    I started playing low limit live and online about 6 years ago. In live play I started at $3/$6 and online I started with $5 & $10 sats. I vowed I would never move up in limits until I had a bankroll of 200 times the big blind for the game I wanted to play. There is alot of talk about how much bankroll you need. I play a very low variance game so 200 X BB is more than adequate for me. People have tried to calculate the probability of a winning player going broke with this type of bankroll. I can tell you, in my case, I believe it to be close to zero. After 6 years my bankroll has never suffered even a 30% setback.

    LIVE PLAY CASH

    I don't get to play live that often so I spent almost 4 years playing $3/$6. When I was $1,600 ahead from that game I moved up to $4/$8. I knew I was ready for $10/$20 and I could afford to play at that level with my own money but my poker bankroll was not yet ready.

    I played $4/$8 for a year until I had the $2,400 necessary to move to $6/$12. I have played $6/$12 for a few months. I am currently at $2,780 on my way to the $4,000 I need to play $10/$20.

    ONLINE TOURNAMENTS

    Thanks to PSO I have learned to play No Limit tournaments. This is all I play online. I play at Bugsys and one other site. I started at Bugsys with $400. I rolled some of my winnings at Bugsys into the other site. After taking out my original $400 I now have $1,984 at Bugsys and $3,440 at the other site. Even at these bankroll levels I usually enter sats or multi table tournaments with entry fees of $20 or less. The only exception is the $50+$5 Sunday tournament at Bugsys. I have played this maybe 6 times and cashed half the time including a win so I have a special love for this particular tournament.

    LIVE TOURNAMENTS

    Unfortunately I don't have accurate records for this area. Since I always lost for the first few years I funded this out of my own money. I played in lots of low buyin events to gain experience. In the last 6 months I have cashed for $1,000 and for $750. I put this back in my pocket. My gut feeling is that I am even at live tournament play but Im just not sure. This is not expensive. I don't enter anything over $100 unless PSO sponsors me (TY MARK). My plan here is to fund this area out of my pocket until I score a good win. When that happens I will have the fun of managing yet another bankroll.

    I keep my live and online bankrolls seperate. Although I would be willing to lend one side money from the other side, the need has never come up.

    I never add or remove money from these bankrolls. I never co mingle them with my personal money. I never consider the bankroll my money. Let me tell you it makes a huge difference in how you play when you dont play with your own money.

    I realize my way is far too conservative for alot of you. I do hope hearing about this very disciplined approach helps some of you. As they say, "It works for me"

    Aces & Faces,

    Bill

  • #2
    Bill
    Just one of the best posts I have ever read. Chocked full of great info. Thanks So much for posting it.

    Comment


    • #3
      One of the most intelligent posts I ever read too. Thanks for the excellent advice!

      Comment


      • #4
        hmm

        Very nice piece!!! well my messages are the most inteligent i think!!

        I go broke, spear 5k

        ceo

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        • #5
          Bill,

          At what point would you start to take money out of your BR for non-poker purposes?

          Rolf has a great article somewhere on how he managed his BR when he decided to go pro. He always took a percentage out for himself when he won a certain amount (as I recall).

          I know your situation is different, but at what point do you think you'll be looking to pay yourself instead of just increasing the limits of the games you play?

          Big "uh-oh...a serious post" Sissy

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          • #6
            Bill, thanks for the great post. That is why U DA MAN.. Good things for us all to consider.

            alan

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            • #7
              Bill,

              Great post! I think don't go broke is a key part of bankroll management. That's one of the reasons why I think PSO ought to give some kind of recognition or incentive to players who a) never refill, and b) show year over year PSO$ bankroll growth. It might encourage good habits and good discipline.

              Thanks!

              Comment


              • #8
                [quote="BigSissy"]Bill,

                At what point would you start to take money out of your BR for non-poker purposes?


                Thats a great question Big Sissy. Thank you for forcing me to think beyond $10/$20.

                I am currently a low limit player. I know these players. I know how they think and act. My next step takes me from low limit to middle limit. I hope I can understand those players as well. In my mind middle limit includes $10/$20 $15/$30 and $20/$40. At this point I have no designs to increase limits beyond that level. At the $20/$40 level I believe I would first increase my BR to 300 X BB and then begin paying myself any excess beyond that.

                Hopefully this will add income besides recreation to my retirement.

                Comment


                • #9
                  wow bill, it is a great post. you are a lucky, disciplined man. the question i have is, what if you were living paycheck to paycheck, and didnt have the other means for money. you had to play for aliving, part of your winnings had to go to bills, and you kept part for increasing your bankroll. do you think this would affect you at the tables? is it realistic for one to think that they could support themselves, or a family by playing poker? i know the ansers to these questions would be just your opinion, but i am curious.

                  i guess i look at myself, and it seems every time i play well, i have to let go of that money to pay this off or that off and cant sustain my bankroll. i have kept records, and i am up a considerable amount for the year, but i dont have a dime to show for it. i owe a bit of debt, and when i have extra money, i try to pay down my debt, and it sseems like i can never keep poker money seperate from personnal money. is therre any specific advice you can give, or does it all boil down to discipline?

                  once again, great post, i hope i will be there someday also. take care buddy,

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Bill:

                    "For the benefit of the new players let me explain bankroll management and the theory of "gamblers ruin". If you play a game where you have a positive advantage but have the possibility of losing, your long term chances for success will be directly proportional to the size of your bankroll. Even a casino with their built in advantage will go bust if they dont have adequate cash to sustain the inevitable ups and downs"

                    Very well said. The nice part is that it sounds like if you play sound poker with an adequate bankroll, you can't lose. Excellent.
                    DD

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yup, good stuff Bill, Thak you for sharing.

                      When I first started playing for real money online (after my PSO apprenticeship :wink: ) I made a commitment to myself that I wouldn't risk anymore than 5% of my bankroll in any one tournament (I didn't play cash games at first). I started with $500 split over 2 sites so my biggest events where generally $20+2 but more often than not were $10+1 and it was a few months before I was able to move up to $50+ tournies.

                      My initial thinking regarding the '5% rule' was that I could afford to miss a cash in 20 (18-19 if you included fees) in a row before I lost all my roll.

                      I've modified it somewhat now and I'll play in $100 tournies but not higher (unless I've won through a satalite - and I've managed to hit the money in a couple $500 buy-ins ). As I will never 'cash-out' for personal use and leave less that $5000 available this equals to around 2%. I'll cash out $2,000, for example, if my roll is above $7,000. I also play cash games but will not sit down with any more than 5% of my roll.

                      Maybe the 5% rule when I started was a little generous and I only got away with it because I was lucky enough to win a few dollars early on. I know now that if I'm playing now with 1% or less in a tourney I don't get concerned/aggitated if I go 10-15 without cashing.

                      Other's views (especially those who are much better players than I) on this subject would be interesting.

                      I can understand what Jay (one of the aforementioned "much better players than I") is saying about funding living expenses by taking from a winning roll but my (fortunate!?) experience indicated to me that playing with a lesser risk to my whole bankroll in many ways helped me perform better than I expected. Perhaps a subconcious thought process of not feeling that I 'needed' to win helps my game. If there is any way you can avoid dipping into your bankroll before it gets to a reasonable amount (which will be different for everyone) then I heartily recommend it.

                      btw I play only pot limit and no limit poker. I expect my percentage theory could be modified to suit limit play but I wouldn't be qualified to comment on how. The multiples of the BB as discussed by Bill seem very sound to me though.

                      All the best.

                      You have to laugh,
                      Kevin - The Chuckle :chuckle:

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the post Bill

                        Discipline and Patients

                        You are right on I think.

                        They both have to work together.

                        Discipline and patients to be a good player.

                        Discipline and patients to be a successful player.

                        That is what I'm trying to learn here at PSO.

                        You probably don't go on tilt either.

                        Again Thanks

                        Larry

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jmuzzey
                          wow bill, it is a great post. you are a lucky, disciplined man. the question i have is, what if you were living paycheck to paycheck, and didnt have the other means for money. you had to play for aliving, part of your winnings had to go to bills, and you kept part for increasing your bankroll. do you think this would affect you at the tables? is it realistic for one to think that they could support themselves, or a family by playing poker? i know the ansers to these questions would be just your opinion, but i am curious.

                          Jay since I know you and your game so well, let me speak directly to you with the thought that others might benefit also.

                          I have no doubt about your future success in poker or life in general. Time is the secret of success. One day you will realize that all the hard work has changed you from debt and no cash to cash and no debt. The transformation doesn't occur often at your age but it will occur eventually.

                          In the meantime, I would do just what you are doing. Use your great talent to supplement your income. Since losses hurt more than wins help in your situation I would give this advice. Take some of the "gamble" out of your game right now and go back to it when larger variances are acceptable. Family comes first.

                          As for making a living playing poker.........you may have the talent but even though your heart is full of "gamble" you know that's not the life for Jen and the girls.

                          My thoughts and you're welcome to them.

                          Bill

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                          • #14
                            very very true bill, thank you!!!!!!!!

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                            • #15
                              OK Now what about Pot Limit Ring games. I have played here for 1 year and have now went into the cyber wilderness to fend for myself at the low limit tables.
                              I only had $200 at the time that I wanted to put into this "past time". $150 went to Bugsy's and $50 to Stars.
                              So far I have piddled $55 away at Bugsys on tourneys. At Stars I have drove the $50 to $200 mainly at the Pot Limit Omaha table .25/.50 , and even .10/.25. I average about $15 an hour playing about 1 rush an hour. After 2 hours I usually call it a day as I work a 55 hour week as it is and I can not maintain concentration.

                              So heres the question. At the .50/$1.00 Pot Limit tables I really do not see much improvement in play just more aggresion. How much should I have before moving up as it is not uncommon to see $50-100 pots at this level. I figure to play a tight waiting position game I need to have $500 to allow for a couple of bad beats. that about right?

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