This may not seem like that significant of an issue, but first glances can be deceiving. Managing your bankroll is a very important component of your game, and one you want to have a solid plan with at all times. This is particularly true if you're first starting out.
There are two major considerations in managing a bankroll. The first is safety. The second is profit optimization. As examples of two extremes, in the first case you can get the maximum amount of safety by just playing 1c/2c games. In the other extreme you would join a game big enough that posting the blind took your whole bankroll.
What we need to do though is to find the right balance between the two objectives. The bigger you play, the more you can make potentially, but the more risk you encounter. The smaller you play, the less risk you encounter, but the less potential profit you receive as well.
Another very important consideration that we want to account for is how easily replenished your bankroll is. Again, we'll look at two extremes. The first is Bill Gates. Even though his winnings may be meaningful to him, probably more of a psychological reward, he needn't worry about losing his online poker bankroll, because he can replenish it with no pain at all. On the other hand, we may have someone who derives all their income from poker, with no way of getting any more stake money, and if they lose their bankroll, they are finished.
So the first question you need to ask yourself is: How much safety do I need with regard to not having to replenish? If it's quite a bit, you're going to want to keep your level of play fairly small in regard to your bankroll. If it's easily replenished, you have the luxury of not having to worry about it too much, and can go a little bigger.
However, there are reasons why you don't want to put too much risk into this. The obvious one is when you go bust, you'll probably have to wait to get more money. The second one is, we want to establish a pattern of winning here, and avoid the psychological problems that can arise by losing all your money.
A further consideration is how experienced you are, and what sort of track record you have. If you're brand new, or you've had a history of losing, of course you're going to want more of a buffer here.
Even though there are lots of things to think about here, it's very important that we reach an optimal balance between safety and profit potential. This is how you're going to make the most money, and that's what it's all about.
So, how can an optimal plan be recommended for you, in view of how many variables need to be considered here? Well, as it turns out, there's a simple solution to all of this, that's going to suit every need, and offer a consistent level of protection while allowing for increased profit potential. And this increased potential will be tied in directly with your progress.
So how does this work? Well it's actually very simple. The only number you have to remember is 100. The rule is, you move up or down depending on which level you're in which would give you 100 big bets.
For those new to poker, a big bet is the higher of the two numbers when looking at a level. If the level is $1/$2, then 100 big bets is going to be $200.
Now, just starting out, you may want to start with less than 100 is your bankroll is very small. However, I'd caution that doing so incurs significantly more risk, and you'd be better dropping down and making sure you stay in the game. Later, as you make money, deposit more, or both, you can move up then.
This is going to be entirely up to you though. If you want to go for the gusto starting out that's fine. On the other hand, even the most experienced players require a good margin to compensate for normal fluctuations in luck. Phil Hellmuth went bust the first few times in a row he tried online poker, and he's a former world champion and considered one of the world's best players. He didn't bring enough money for the levels he was playing though. Once he learned this, the rest was easy.
And don't be afraid to start out small. The amount of money you can make in a hand may not excite you too much, but it's a lot more exciting than just watching games after you've busted yourself out, having to wait to get a hold of some more money to get back in the game. And, the exciting thing is, after you've mastered the smaller levels, this plan will have you progressively moving up to bigger and bigger ones, all the while maintaining the margin of safety you require.
Of course, there may be times where you need to drop down a level as well, when you no longer have the required bankroll for that particular level. It's far better to drop down than drop out though. You will retreat a little, but live to fight on. You will bolster your strength and work your way back, and this time, you will be both more experienced and more skilled.
So let's get into the details of this a little more. Let's say you start out with $100. Using our 100 bet rule, this gets you a seat at a $.5/$1 table. If it's a winning session, you move on. If it isn't, then it's going to leave you less than the 100 required, so you'd drop down to $.25/.50 for awhile.
Here's a guideline using their limits, which will explain much better what the plan's going to be here:
$30/$60 $6000 and over
You're encouraged to write this down, although the formula is very simple and can be figured out easily. Do you have 100 big bets for the level you're at? If not, move down. Do you have 100 big bets for the next limit up? If so, move up.
The beauty of this extends beyond the obvious. Let's compare to a typical bankroll plan, where, say, 300 big bets is recommended at every level. Therefore, when your account grows to the point where you've got 300 big bets at the next level up, you move up.
It is hard to criticize this in terms of safety. It has plenty of that, that's for sure. However, with our plan, we're going to keep INCREASING our margin of safety as we go, well beyond the 300 bets. Theirs is a constant margin of safety, where ours is an increasing one!
One of the big problems though is the 300 system will have you starting out very low indeed. If you only have $100, for instance, you will have to start out at $.10/$.20. With our system, we've got you at $.50/$1, and we run into a bad run of cards before increasing it much, we can drop down 2 full levels before we have to deal with such small a limit. And we can drop down even further than that if we need to. This is going to be a significant point whether your starting bankroll is very small or very large.
Second, the 300 system moves up levels VERY slowly. You need to be ahead by 600 bets on average to move up to the next level. Let's use the $100 example again, to give you an idea of the huge advantage with our system. They win 600 bets at $.10/$.20, and earn a paltry $120. They still don't have the 300 bets at $.25/.50, but they're pretty close to moving up.
We, on the other hand, move up MUCH quicker, and make a LOT more money with these 600 bets. The difference will amaze you actually. The first 100 bets won takes us to $200. The next 100 takes us to $400. The next 50 takes us to $600. The next 67 takes us to $1000. The next 100 takes us to $2000. The next 50 takes us to $3000. The next 100 takes us to $6000. And the 33 we have left takes us to $7980. We started with $100, so that leaves us with a profit of $7880 for the 600 bets.
So, we work our way up to $30/$60, while they're not even at $.25/.50 yet. And we make $7880 to their $120. And the only thing we'll have to say to them is: "Who's your daddy"? :)