My internet poker playing friend was out of town a few weeks ago, and could not get his regular site to work well, so knowing I had extra cash in my Party Poker account he asked for a hundred bucks to play there during his visit. Sure fine. A few hours later he lets me know he lost 2, $ 20 + 2 SNG tourneys in a row, both by bad beats. His intention at that time was to go into a $ 30 + 3 to try and make it back. He is a good player so I was not about to lecture him on his bankroll, but herein you will find exactly that.
The skills involved in managing your bankroll effectively are basic math, dedication to learning the game, the humility to drop down a level, and anger management. Seriously.
The above scenario is no doubt very common. In fact, poker sites love reload players like my friend. The players who know they are good, make that, "too good" to play within their own bankroll are the most profitable. Inevitably, not managing your bankroll, no matter how good you are, will result in failure. By the incontestable laws of probabilities and mathematics, this is undeniable. It does not matter if you are playing with a hundred bucks or a million, the result is always the same. It has been reportedly reported that a certain multiple WPT champion has repeatedly played over his bankroll and blown his WPT winsnings. It happens on any level, as the principle is the same.
You will need basic math skills to the tune of knowing what 2, 5, and 10 percent of your bankroll is. No matter what your game you should never be playing with more than 10% of your bankroll. For example, if you deposit 100 dollars into your account, you should not take more than $ 10 to any game. This is going to limit you to .50 / 1.00 limit hold'em, or $ 5 to $ 10 SNG's. You could also play an MTT for that entry, but I do not recommend that because it would be illegally for you to place in the money. If you think you can lick this game right off and deposit $ 1000, then you can bring $ 100 bucks to any table for play. Still, this is not recommended. If you are learning, you should learn to move up to that level, rather than buy yourself into it. Trust me, you will want to avoid the painful strategy of buying yourself into a higher limit.
Your humility should allow you to play at a level that forces you to become proficient and earn yourself a bankroll to move up. If that means .25 / .50 hold'em, then that is your challenge. If you are going to learn, learn cheap, learn smart, and earn your way up to the next level. You will feel so much more confident when moving up a level in having conquered the level before it. Others will have paid to get in that level, and those opponents will be at your mercy.
On the other hand, once you move up a level and find yourself struggling, you need to go back down a level and refocus your efforts and education. When to do this exactly, it is a question of math. If your bankroll has not increased at your new game level and comes perilously close to that 10% guideline, it's time to back up. Do not let it get below that level, because once you break the guideline once, it's much easier the next time, and the next, and the next ... This will lead to mismanagement, and relating. Here is an example: You deposited $ 100 and started with the 5 buck sit and go circuit and skillfully built your bankroll up to $ 250, where you correctly decided to move up to the $ 10 SNG tables. You played 7 tournaments at that level and only placed once with a second place showing. This has dropped your bankroll down to $ 203. Although another $ 10 entry is well within 10%, it is more than 5%, and since you have not performed well, you should gather your humility and understand that there is more to learn. In this case, I would go back to the 5 buck SNG tables, and work my bankroll up to $ 300, before trying your next move up. Once you reach that goal, and have proven yourself a better player, you will also have more bankroll room at the $ 10 level.
It is an invaluable experience to care for your bankroll in this way. I have done this several times when my bankroll needed it to the point now that when I sit a SNG table, I know that through my dedication of learning the game at each level, I am a favorite to place in that tournament. This may sound of a drastic move, but treating your bankroll with the utmost respect is the key to success.
To play is to dedicate.
It is not going to be easy to double your bankroll at this level. Your commitment and dedication to each stage objectives learning, patience, and intense observation. and is a supreme test of your core personality. Think this is overboard? I have seen players losing it to the point of me stopping them from punching a wall or tossing a laptop. These are otherwise normal acquentions.
And then there was anger management.
This is not a funny movie. This is about battling that desire to make up lost ground by moving up a level, not down. This is where you need to know the value of your cards before you shove an all-in play at that maniacal player who has raised you yet again. By the way, at that point, he is usually holding a monster and has trained you like a monkey to step right in. If you are playing within your bankroll, losing your temper is never really an issue, because losing a game or a hand to a bad beat or poor play is not going to cripple your account. Many of your opponents will play their entitlement bankroll at a table or a tournament and you can take advantage of this, because in that situation, they will NEVER be able to make optimal decisions. You can certainly imagine though that they will be tilting the moment they lose a big hand, because that one hand may represent 75% of their whole bankroll. Tilting after you lose a big hand in such a scenario, is pretty much inescapable. Their mindset is already looking forward to another reload, as they mentally prepare themselves to exit the table with nothing. I have seen this literally thousands of times online.
It's in the math.
When I say maximum 10%, I really try to play with 5% or less. For example, I usually have between $ 2,000 and $ 4,000 in my party poker account. When I have more I withdraw down to about $ 2,500 because I, personally, never want to be below $ 2,000 as that will restrict some of the tables / events I play at. Let's say I have $ 2,500 now and want to play in the Sunday Million which has an entry fee of $ 215. Therefore, $ 215 divided into $ 2,500 = 8.6% which is within the 10% guideline. However, let me tell you why it's STILL the wrong decision to pay for that tournament. If that is how you are investing your bankroll, you need to realize the likelihood of playing that circuit profitably. In other words, you have basically 10 chances to place that tourney. You may very well be able to do that however, it is not unusual to go through 10, 20 or even 40 tournaments without placing - even for the pros. If multiple table tournaments are your game, you should be looking to have a bankroll of about 50 buy-ins. That is how dry tournaments can get. Using the 50 buy-in formula, you should have $ 10,000 + in your account to pay for the Sunday Million.
Think of it this way. If you are good enough to profit in this tournament, then you should easily be able to win a qualifier to get in it for about 5% to 10% of the entry fee. If you can not win one of those tourneys, filled with rookies, then you have no justification for paying the big tour entry fee outright.
Improving your game and learning strategies at each level are clearly effective skills in managing your bankroll, but one depends on the other, so in essence you need to train yourself in both and reap the rewards as you advance.