By: SeanLindLots of poker players - evenwinning players - are prone to burning through their online bankroll,ruining weeks or months of successful grinding by going broke in oneor two bad sessions.
Not surprisingly, players who lose money playing live poker (about90% of the live-poker world) also claim they're simply unable to keepa balance online. Strange.What is surprising though is the number oftruly winning players who have the exact same problem.If a player isa consistent winner in live poker, it stands to reason that his orher game is profitable and should be similarly profitableonline.Unfortunately, being successful in online poker requiressignificantly more discipline and control than live poker. Playersare stronger, play is quicker and you don't have anyone to see whenyou go off the deep end.If you're a good poker player, and you knowyou're capable of making money online yet can't seem to keep a roll,this article might be just what you're looking for.
1. Play Within Your Roll
Start with the most important concept first: you absolutely mustplay within your roll if you want to make money online.The simplestway to explain it is to look at the mathematical theorem Gambler'sRuin.
One of the concepts of Gambler's Ruin
is this:take two players and pit them against each other in a zero-sum game(such as flipping a coin, where each player has an expected win/lossrate of exactly 0%).One player has a finite bankroll. The other hasan infinite bankroll. Given infinite repetitions of the game, theplayer with the finite roll will eventually go broke.In the onlinepoker world, it's you against everyone else. This means it's yourroll against the infinite roll of the rest of the world. If poker wasa zero-sum game, you'd go broke.Luckily, if you're a winning player,you can expect a positive return on your investment. But youneed to have enough money in your roll to make the swings andvariance irrelevant.Your bankroll, although finite, needs to be largeenough to seem infinite. Stick to the standard rule of having lessthan 5% of your roll in play on one table at a time.If you reallywant to be robusto, drop that number as low as 1% or 2%. Some of themost profitable and serious online grinders play with rolls 10xthat.If you never have to worry about going broke from losing at aspecific game, chances are you won't.
2. Don't Monitor Your Balance
If you're following the first rule and playing with a legitbankroll, then (outside of a serious and lengthy downswing defyingall odds) you're in little-to-no risk of going broke.You play pokerwith chips, not money. You can't think about the money you're playingthe game with as it's completely irrelevant.With checking the amountof your online roll as easy as clicking a button, it's very easy tofall into the trap of micro-managing your account. When you're on anupswing, every time you check your balance you feel good.The numbergoes up, so does your spirits. But it only takes one beat to makethat number go down. A lot. And if you're still checking yourbalance, seeing that smaller number will make you feel bad.You wantit back to where it was and you want it back immediately. As soon asyou have that thought, you've started "chasing your losses."You're going to start forcing your play to get back to where youthink you should be.This can be the first step towards total selfdestruction. Typically in poker, making money is a slow grind, andlosing money is a quick drop.If you're watching your balance, you'llfall into the depression of "a week's work lost" or "Itwill take me a week to get back what I just lost in an hour."Theonly way to get it back fast is to jump limits and take a shot at abig score. This breaks rule #1, and is the first step to going broke.
3. Treat the Game Seriously
When you're playing for real money, every session, pot anddecision matters. Even the smallest of mistakes costs you money.Themore money you lose from mistakes, the harder it becomes to generateprofit and keep from going broke.
By the very definition of theword, a distraction is taking your focus away from the game, movingit on to something else. As soon as you start playing poker withoutpaying attention, you're almost certain to make multiplemistakes.Every person is different. Some players can play just aswell, if not better, while watching a movie. Other players need toshut everything else down to keep their mind on the game.You need tohonestly assess your capability for multi-tasking and set yourself upto play in an optimal poker environment.
Don't play out of boredom:
You play poker becauseyou want to play, or because it's what you do to make money. Playingbecause you're bored will force you to make poker your personalentertainment.Sometimes, poker is not entertaining at all. If you'reonly playing because you're bored, and you're having a boringsession, chances are you're going to make dumb moves to push theaction.If you're bored and you don't legitimately feel like grinding,find something else to do.
4. Pay Attention to Your Human Needs
You are human. Humans require constant maintenance and upkeep tostay healthy. If you're not healthy and feeling good, you're notgoing to be playing your best poker.The most important of thesefactors for poker:
If you're not eating well or just plainhungry, you're not going to be thinking as quickly or proficiently aspossible. Also, if you're hungry, that's just one more distraction tokeep you from thinking about poker.
If you're uncomfortable, you'redistracted. Get a good chair, a good monitor, and set yourself up asergonomically as possible.
If you're exhausted, you're notplaying your best game. If you're not playing your best game, you'relosing money. Regardless of how good the game is, when you feelextremely tired, go to bed.
If you have anythingpressing on your mind, you're going to have a hard time playing yourbest game. It's best to not play at all when you're in a mental statethat's anything other than "normal."Drugs and booze areanother mental distraction. It's one thing to have a beer or twowhile you play; it's another to try and play whilehammered.Regardless of what you may think, you can't play your bestpoker when you're drunk.
5. Integrate a Tilt-Induced Kill Switch
Tilt is the #1 bankroll killer in the world.Usually brought on bybreaking any combination of the previous rules, or something assimple as a bad beat, tilt can drive even the most measured playerinto a frenzy of ridiculous bets, raises and calls.The cause of tiltis personal and can come from anywhere. Although it will vary indegree from one person to the next, it's impossible to avoid all tiltentirely.Some players, such as PhilIvey
, are rarely tilted. And when they are, it's rarely enough toaffect their game all that much.For the rest of the world, when youfeel any signs of tilt, no matter how slight or seemingly harmless,it's time to log off, get up, and go do something else. Poker willalways be there when you get back.
If you follow all of these rules, andyou're capable of playing winning poker, chances are you will nevergo broke online.But be warned: Once you break just one of theserules, the others can come crashing through the door right behindit.Be diligent, and at the first sign of any rule being broken,abandon ship. Remember, poker will always be around tomorrow, butonce your roll is gone, it's not coming back.