You need to consider three things when deciding which poker game you should learn to play. Firstly, and most importantly, you need to figure out which type of game you enjoy playing and studying. Secondly, you want to find a game that fits in with the free time you have to play. Thirdly, you need to find a game and stakes that fit within your bankroll.
This is the simple part, try playing them all. You can either test them out for free with Play Money, or try them at their lowest stakes. You’ll soon know which game you enjoy most and which game fits into your free time.
Here’s an idea of how you can spend the free time you allocate to playing poker.
|Free Time||Recommended Game to Play / Test|
|30 minutes a day||1x 6 or 9-man Sit & Go // 5 x Spin & Go’s|
|1 hour per day||1x 18-player Sit & Go // 2x 6 or 9-player Sit & Go // 10 x Spin & Go’s // 100 hands of 6-Max cash // 200 hands of Zoom cash|
|4 hours per day||1x Turbo Tournament // 2x 45-player Sit & Go // 40x Spin & Go’s // 400 hands of 6-Max Cash // 800 hands of Zoom cash|
|8 hours per day||1x Regular Tournament // 2x Turbo Tournaments // 80x Spin & Go’s // 800 hands of 6-Max cash // 1,600 Zoom hands|
|Unlimited||Pick a game that suits you!|
*All games are based on playing one table.
How much is your poker bankroll? If you’re a recreational player just playing for fun, you don’t need a big bankroll to enjoy poker. But if you’re hoping to play poker seriously, you’ll need a much higher bankroll to stay in the game.
The below table shows what games and stakes you should consider playing, depending on your bankroll. It is based on a player who is taking poker seriously, but who doesn’t use poker as their sole source of income.
|Sit & Go||Cash||Spin & Go|
|$0||Play Money tournaments (eg. Sunday Billion)
|Play Money Sit & Go’s||Play Money Cash Games||Play Money Spin & Go’s|
|$25||PokerStars School Scholars Leader Board||$0.50 Sit & Go’s||–||$0.25 Spin & Go’s|
(eg. Big $0.55, Hot $0.55, Bounty Builder $0.55)Freerolls*
|$1 Sit & Go’s||$0.01/$0.02 stakes Cash Games||$1 Spin & Go’s|
(eg. Big $1.10, Hot $1.10, Bounty Builder $1.10)Freerolls*
|$1.50 – $2.50 Sit & Go’s||$0.02/$0.05 stakes Cash Games||$2 Spin & Go’s|
(eg. Big $2.20, Hot $2.20, Bounty Builder $2.20)Freerolls* & $2.20 Satellites
Sit & Go’s
|$0.05/$0.10 stakes Cash Games||$5 Spin & Go’s|
(eg. Mini Daily Marathon, Big $5.50, Hot $5.50, Bounty Builder $5.50)$5.50 Satellites
|$7-$15 Sit & Go’s||$0.10/$0.25 stakes Cash Games||$10 Spin & Go’s|
(eg. Sunday Storm, Hotter $11, Big $11, Bounty Builder $11)$11 Satellites
|$30 Sit & Go’s||$0.25/$0.50 stakes Cash Games||$25 Spin & Go’s|
(eg. Double Deuce, Mini Sunday Million, Mini Fast Friday)$22 Satellites
|$60 Sit & Go’s||$0.50/$1 stakes Cash Games||$50 Spin & Go’s|
*PokerStars and PokerStars School frequently offer free-to-enter tournaments, allowing you to win tickets to real money tournaments. See the PokerStars promotions page and PokerStars School promotion page for more information.
In the above chart, it is suggested that you have around 100x buy-ins for tournaments, on account of higher variance. If you wish to play bigger tournaments, it’s suggested that you try to satellite your way into the field.
Spin & Go’s will require a minimum of 50x buy-ins. Similarly, it is recommended to have 50x buy-ins available for Sit & Go tournaments as well, but the larger the field is (eg. 45 or 90-man Sit & Go’s), you are approaching multi-table tournament territory and will be looking for a higher level of protection against downswings.
The suggested bankroll for Cash Games would be a minimum of 25x full buy-ins (eg. $2 at $0.01/0.02) so, at the $25 point, we aren’t really ready to play even the lowest stakes. Ideally we’d have at least 40x to be truly comfortable.
Every author has slightly different guidelines when it comes to bankroll management. The truth is, bankroll management is unique for everyone, and these are only guidelines designed to stop you losing your entire bankroll. You must adjust to what suits your needs. For example, a player with $1,000 who only plays $1 Spin & Go’s can still go broke if they are a bad player.
It’s also true that a beginning player who has never played poker before or has little experience shouldn’t jump into a $0.50/$1 stake 6-Max cash game just because they have a $2,000 bankroll. It’s better to start at the Play Money tables, learn the basics and then move on to the smallest stakes possible until you’re happy with your game.
Again, this is different for everyone. Some players prefer to learn through play at the tables, the more hands they play the more situations arise and the more experienced they become. Others prefer to learn through reading, books, articles, taking courses. Then of course, you have communities and forums, talking about hands with friends and other poker players, or even watching Twitch and reviewing videos.
For a beginner, it’s important to split your poker play vs poker study at least 60/40. The study aspect should be split too, allowing you to review your hands, learn new strategies and discuss these with friends and other players.
Set yourself fun challenges. This will not only keep the game exciting whilst you’re improving your play, but also keep you on track to reach your goals.
Decided you want to play poker tournaments? If you have up to six hours per day to play with (and a $200 bankroll) a fun challenge could be to play a mixture of $1.10 satellites into the Sunday Million, as well as standard $1.10 Turbo Tournaments.
This way you could spend your study time improving your tournament poker, and you’ll have the excitement of trying to win a seat into the Sunday Million.
Set yourself a target, such as ‘play 50 x $0.25 Spin & Go’s in one week’. Perhaps even ask a friend if they want to take the challenge with you – loser buys the lunch! When that lunch arrives, you can both sit down and discuss strategy, learn and improve each other’s games.
Armed with your knowledge of games to play, stakes your bankroll allows for and the time you can afford to spend playing, keep a progress tracker. This way, you can set yourself a number of games/sessions to play in a day/week, see your results and be aware of your profit/loss numbers and the trend of your results.
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