Monday, April 16, 2012

Bankroll Management: Money = Tool of the Trade

“Folks, if you’re afraid to risk your stack, whether it’s worth $10 or $10,000, you have no business playing no-limit poker” – John Vorhaus, Poker Night

Ah, Bankroll Management—that über-sexy topic that causes players' eyes to glaze over and "zzzzzzzzz" sounds to emanate from the mouths of enraptured blog readers. It doesn't get much more exciting than this... 

In all seriousness, Bankroll Management, or BRM as it is commonly known, should be a key part of your poker arsenal. Without good BRM practices, you will go broke at this game. This is a near 100% certainty. 

In simple terms, BRM is the means by which you can continue to play the game, even if you’re experiencing a terrible run of luck, or “variance” as it’s known. BRM is what keeps you at the tables long after your less disciplined brethren have been forced to sit out and watch. BRM may not be sexy, but neither is oxygen. And I think we all agree that O2 a vital ingredient to life and can't be ignored. Go somewhere without enough oxygen and things are going south in a hurry.

Well, BRM is as important as oxygen to a poker player. To best understand why this is so, you first have to understand what poker is and, more importantly, what it is not. 

Poker is a long-term statistical game by nature. It is not a short-term, dammit-my-aces-were-cracked-by-kings-again deal. In other words, if you’re playing aces correctly, but they’re still getting cracked by kings, you should not despair. In fact, you should be happy. You’re getting your money in with the best of it. Unfortunately, Lady Luck is temporarily frowning on you. Take it like a grown-up; she frowns on everyone in equal proportions and at the most inopportune moments. 

Whether your name is Joe Hachem, Joe Cada, or Joe Schmoe, you’re going to run bad from time to time. This is both the frustration and genius of poker; short-term variance is what hooks the bad players and keeps them coming back for more. More importantly, it’s what keeps them playing poorly.

Our job as winning players is to ride out these short term storms of variance. Our job is not to deviate from the plan. Our job is to shrug off the bad beats and stay on our game... and this includes staying within the guidelines of BRM. 

We can simply never step outside the limitations of our bankroll. Phrases like “I’m gonna take a shot at the big game” or “there was a giant fish in the high-stakes game, so I had to sit down” or "just this one time I'm going to try playing with the big boys" are words we have scrub from our vocabulary. Poker is a game of discipline. Imagine a carpenter who lost his hammer and saw, or a policeman who left for work without his handcuffs and sidearm. As serious poker players, our bankroll is a similarly key tool of our trade. Lose it, and you can’t go to work in the morning. 

BRM may be boring, but if losing your stack, whether its $10 or $10,000, means you can’t play poker tomorrow, you have no business in sitting in that game.

All-in for now...

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