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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Poker Plus - Making the Most of your Poker Budget

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Tired of the economy? Pissed off at the pump? Grouchy at the grocery store? Well you are not alone. Everyone today is feeling the pinch, even poker players.

With the economy the way it is, many players may have a hard time justifying depositing or reloading their BR (bankroll). For most of us, our BR balance would buy a tank of gas (or two), a cart of groceries or pay the electric bill. It can be a hard choice to leave money in your BR when you need it for other things.

So, just how do you budget poker? Cash out and leave some to play on? Not a bad idea if your BR is big enough, but danger can be lurking.

Let’s say you have a $1,500 BR and usually play 3/6 limit, or NLH games like $0.50/$1.00 and you cash out $1,000. Now you have $500 to build your bankroll back up. If you continue to play the limits you did when you had $1500, you could see your BR taking a nose dive, meaning you will just have to deposit again if you want to keep playing. If this happens, you have not accomplished much.

A better plan may be to go down a step or two. If you were playing 3/6 try 1/2 or 2/4 limits until you can build your BR back up again. If you are a tournament player, usually playing $20 and up buy-in events but you aren’t cashing in them, try smaller buy-in tournaments.  Look for tournaments with a guarantee, since the prize pool is guaranteed even if there are fewer players than required to meet the guarantee; that means you are playing a smaller field for the same value.

The “poker-in-the-know” people say you need 300 times the Big Blind or big bets as an adequate BR for a game. This means you (according to them) should have $1200 to play 2/4 limit. Another seasoned player says he won’t play 3/6 without a “comfortable” BR of $4,000. I don’t know about other players but I don’t have $4,000 to leave sitting in my BR and wouldn’t feel comfortable at all doing it! With this formula in mind, according to the ones who know best, the biggest game you should play with a $500 BR is $0.50/$1.00 limit. If you want specifics on NLH minimum BRs you have to research it. Lord knows there are thousands of Pro’s out there giving advice on the subject.

These are all reasonable suggestions about what limits to play with what size BR etc., but they are not right for everyone. I admit I do not follow a “what limit can I play” formula. After playing poker for over 27 years, I know (or hope I do) my ability level. I don’t feel uncomfortable in any limit game, but I do try to make prudent choices. A personal choice for me is I hate NLH. I am not an adrenalin junkie, nor do I need the rush of jumping out of a plane with a chute that may have holes in it. NLH is an exciting game; put it all on the line and all that. I never took to it myself and much prefer Stud H/L as my readers already know.

Sure I eye the bigger limits of 10/20 and up but for my BR level I won’t play them. I don’t want to take a hit for a few hundred of my $1200 BR because I can’t deposit more if I lose. At this point I am playing it safe, striving for smaller risks and a bigger pay-off.

Even with my inadequate BR (by the set standards) I prefer $2/4 and 3/6 limit games. Why? Because- I have confidence in my playing abilities. This means not only skill, but knowing when to quit if things are going badly. Very rarely do I lose a buy-in, let alone re-buy in a game if I am not catching any cards and winning. Lucky me, I have no patience when losing and instead of tilting off, I tilt out-of the game. I also never play in a game because of what limit it is.

If the 3/6 game has average pots of $22 and the $0.50/$1.00 game has pots of $19…I am signing up for the smaller game. Why would I want to put $120 buy-in on the 3/6 table and pay 3 x the amount of bets (not to mention higher antes)…when I can put $40 up on the /$0.50/$1.00 table AND win equal or bigger pots? Why risk more to win less (or the same) amount of money? This is why you have as good a chance of finding me in a $0.25/$0.50 game as in the 3/6, because I go where the money is. I do not play a certain limit game because it feeds my ego. I want to feed my BR, my ego is fed by winning, and it doesn’t care what limit I won in.

Ego or pride should never be a part of a poker player’s game. Of course it is, just watch poker on TV if you doubt it, but it hurts your game unless you are a hell of a showman and just acting for effect. Ego makes you go on tilt and lose when you think, “how can that idiot beat me time after time with the worst hand?” and so on.

Cards have no conscience and neither does Lady Luck. A new hand is a new chance to win, but only if you keep your emotions in check and play the way you should. Go off on a tangent and try to beat someone and your chips will end up in their stack every time. I always chuckle when I see certain “I have to play bigger” players who are in a 3/6 game with pots of $20, while a great 1/2 game is jamming with $50 pots. Let them feed their egos, I would rather feed my BR.

The answer to how much you should have in your BR for what limit game is…it depends.

You have to know yourself. Are you a recreational player with big BR swings? If so, maybe you should either not cash out, or if you need the money; cash out and re-deposit when you can afford to play again.

Are you an average player who built up your BR from a small deposit by playing small games? Then cash out and leave enough in your BR to continue playing those small games. Then try to repeat your success.

Are you an above average player who’s confident of their play in mid level games like 2/4 and 3/6? Then leave yourself with a BR that you are comfortable with. Whether it is $500, $1,000 or something in between, keep your BR at the level you are ok about playing in.

No need to address the pro level, they already know it all and don’t read poker articles anyway. They are too busy playing and writing books.

My ultimate advice when it comes to playing, depositing and cashing out? Like the commercial says, “It’s your money, do what you want with it.” But most of all have fun!

Grab a Chair…see you there..on PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker!

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