As part of Bankroll Management, we will discuss the role of limiting your losses in a particular game. I have found this very helpful throughout my online poker playing years (ergo, you won't find me losing thousands of dollars online). There are a few rules for Bankrolls and Buyins. For limit games, a Bankroll of 250 to 300 times the Big Bet is advisable. So if you are playing a .10 fixed limit (without antes) game of Omaha or Holdem, you need about $25 to $30. For a $1 game, you need about $250 to $300.
Now, this buffer works against that dreaded word, VARIANCE. While Poker is a game of skill in the long run, we all have losing streaks in the Short Run (see my adage on the sidebar that states if you are losing, find any excuse to get up from the table, or Just close the Client down). Your losing streaks can be long, and many players should come to grips with this.
In fixed limit games, there is less variance than in No-Limit/Pot-Limit games. You get more value for your pot odds and implied odds, because you don't have to throw your whole stack in the middle. Hence, you can play fixed limit games with a lower bankroll than the higher variance games. However, we do run across those folks with the GREED factor, or they just watched Phil Ivey in a cash game, and they are ready to rock and roll with repeated deposits of $30, OR they insist the only way to play is with the maximum buy in.
There are several rules of thumb for Bankroll guidelines to No Limit/Pot Limit games. Here, many advocate 25 times the Big Buy In for ring games (you may want a bigger buffer for 6 man ring games). Because Implied odds may sometimes outweigh the Pot Odds in these games, you need a larger roll to rock with. So for a NORMAL (not deep stack) ring game of No Limit Holdem, or Pot Limit Omaha, 10NL (meaning big bet is .10, big buyin is $10), you will want a roll of $250 to $300. $500 for Deep Stack and ante games.
However, I have played (and successfully mind you), 10NL with a lower bankroll. And in Chris Ferguson's Bankroll Management Guidelines, he advocates up to 5% of your roll (20 Big Bet buy ins) for ring games and single table Sit N Gos (however, you need to get up from the table when you double that buy in, at 10% of your roll). What about variance, and what about buying in with the max to our 10NL game, which would be $10?
Well, here is where we work on the Loss Limitation. Recently, Full Tilt Poker has changed their min buy in for regular ring game NL/PL to 35 times the big blind, and Rush Poker is at 40 times the big blind. We can work with these rules. I started with the premise (not on purpose, and not having read Annie Duke's article), of typically buying in with 30 times the big blind. This is where our 30 Bet Rule comes into play. When you sit down to play, DO NOT LOSE MORE THAN 30 BIG BETS. This is fairly easy to handle in fixed limit games (since my current roll of $6 on Stars allows .30 cent buy in to a fixed limit game if I wished). But with Ring Games, you will see the majority of self proclaimed professionals stating that short stacking and rat holing makes you:
- a: a losing player (haha, guess again),
- b. you don't know how to play with big stacks (well guys, what about tourney experience?) or
- c. You're just not right for the game because you take their chips and run (gee, I wonder where that comes from).
Using our 30 bet rule, we can step outside the box a little on Bankroll Management (providing you have extra on hand). My online Roll for Full Tilt is $53+, but my total allocated is $200+ at the moment. However, supposing I decide to play a ring game of 10NL (or 5NL), I can still do so with the 30 Bet Rule (or Short Stacking as its called). For a regular ring game, I would now buy in for $3.50 (when I had the whole roll on Tilt, it would be $4 or $5). Then, I would play my game. If I lost the buy in, I would either find a new table, or quit (depending on if I was doing a challenge or not). You can even Break it down literally, that if you have lost $3 of your $3.50, then get up from the table. For Rush Poker, with my small roll, I played 10NL with $4 buy in three times (once as a test regarding a strange email I received from Support). All times had been profitable. However, the same rule applies here. Don't buy in for bigger than $4 at rush 10NL. While some say the only way is with the Big Stacks, I would rather shove my $4 into the middle with AA, than $10 with KK (and who is going to fold KK pre flop?) KK does lose to bad beats, and someone calling with AQ suited, and either hitting an A on flop, or worse - KJT appears with no paired board. AA has lost for me in Rush against KK when a K hit the river.
So, Variance wise, learning wise, and Bankroll Management wise - it is MUCH better to risk your 30 to 40 bet stack vs. a 100BB+ stack (I lost $45+ on that AA vs. KK hand). While you WILL win with AA a lot more than lose, losing streaks DO happen, and buying in for 100BB (Big Bets), when your roll is between 25 and 50 times the Big Buy Ins, only allows for so many games. And when you start losing? Then, to continue the Big Stack Buy in, you need to move down in limits, or go bust. The originator of this design was Annie Duke posting on the Advice of her big bro Howard Lederer. Even professional players work with the Loss Limiting (despite forum talk). Continually rebuying at the same table you have lost at:
- a. continues the losing streak, if one is in process
- b. loses our focus on how well we are playing, because we are focused on shoving to make up for our losses.
When you are losing, your table image erodes (if you are playing Rush, you will have a tendency to go on tilt a LOT easier). Those looking up stats can see this. Opponents will come hard at you, making it more difficult for you to bluff, which REALLY eats at your profits. You are not on your A game. Once again, even with a $250 roll, a $4 loss is much easier to take, than a $10 loss. If you lose, get up from the table (don't rebuy). If you double or better your stack, get UP. There is nothing wrong with keeping your money. Folks that want to play with Big Stacks, well - we have Deep Stack tables, do feel free to take advantage of them.
And how can we incorporate this into Tourney and SNG buy ins? I like to think of three games or so at a time. For your typical single table Sit N Go, you really need to cash one out of three times. For multi-table tourneys, you can go longer, because the payouts are bigger, BUT - after three games, even if multi-tabling for that time (say 3 windows for 3 buy ins at a time leading to 9 games), if you haven't won anything, take a break. Variance here is big, and if starting a long losing streak, why prolong it with a long session of 20 to 40 games? (I learned this the hard way). So think of tourneys in increments of 3 to 9 buyins at a time. This still falls within the 30 Big Bet rule.