Lots of online poker players – even winning players – are prone to burning through their online bankroll, ruining weeks or months of successful grinding by going broke in one or two bad sessions.
Not surprisingly, players who lose money playing poker online also claim they’re unable to keep a bankroll online. What’s surprising is the number of winning players who have the exact same problem. If a player is a consistent winner in poker, it stands to reason that his or her game is profitable and should be similarly profitable online.
However, being successful in online poker requires significantly more discipline and control than poker. Players are stronger, play is quicker, and since you don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself in front of anyone if you go off the deep end, you’re far more likely to go on tilt.
If you’re a good online poker real money player, and you know you’re capable of making money online yet can’t seem to keep a bankroll, here are five rules that just might save your online bankroll.
Play Within Your Roll
Let’s start with the most important concept first: you absolutely must play within your roll if you want to make money online.
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/loss rate of exactly 50%). One player has a finite bankroll. The other has an infinite bankroll. Given infinite repetitions of the game, the player with the finite roll will eventually go broke.
In the online poker world, it’s you against everyone else. This means it’s your roll against the infinite roll of the rest of the world. If poker was a zero-sum game, you’d go broke.
Luckily, if you’re a winning player, you can expect a positive return on your investment. But you need to have enough money in your roll to make the swings and variance irrelevant.
Don’t Monitor Your Balance
If you’re following the first rule and playing with a legit bankroll, then (outside of a serious and lengthy downswing defying all odds) you’re in little-to-no risk of going broke.
You play poker with chips, not money. You can’t think about the money you’re playing the game with as it’s completely irrelevant.
With checking the amount of your online roll as easy as clicking a button, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of micro-managing your account. When you’re on an upswing, every time you check your balance you feel good. The number goes up, so does your spirits. But it only takes one beat to make that number go down. A lot. And if you’re still checking your balance, seeing that smaller number will make you feel bad. You want it back to where it was and you want it back immediately. As soon as you have that thought, you’ve started “chasing your losses”. You’re going to start forcing your play to get back to where you think you should be.
Treat the Game Seriously
When you’re playing for real money, every session, pot and decision matters. Even the smallest of mistakes costs you money. The more money you lose from mistakes, the harder it becomes to generate profit and keep from going broke.
Limit distractions: By the very definition of the word, a distraction is taking your focus away from the game, moving it on to something else. As soon as you start playing best online poker without paying attention, you’re almost certain to make multiple mistakes.
Every person is different. Some players can play just as well, if not better while watching a movie. Other players need to shut everything else down to keep their mind on the game. You need to honestly assess your capability for multi-tasking and set yourself up to play in an optimal poker environment.
Don’t play out of boredom: You play poker because you want to play, or because it’s what you do to make money. Playing because you’re bored will force you to make poker your personal entertainment.
Sometimes, poker is not entertaining at all. If you’re only playing because you’re bored, and you’re having a boring session, chances are you’re going to make dumb moves to push the action. If you’re bored and you don’t legitimately feel like grinding, find something else to do.
Pay Attention to Your Human Needs
You are human. Humans require constant maintenance and upkeep to stay healthy. If you’re not healthy and feeling good, you’re not going to be playing your best poker game.
Hunger: If you’re not eating well or just plain hungry, you’re not going to be thinking as quickly or proficiently as possible. Also, if you’re hungry, that’s just one more distraction to keep you from thinking about poker.
Comfort: If you’re uncomfortable, you’re distracted. Get a good chair, a good monitor, and set yourself up as ergonomically as possible. If you want some good tips, Google is your answer. Use every tip you can find to keep yourself healthy, comfortable and carpal-tunnel free.
Exhaustion: If you’re exhausted, you’re not playing your best game. If you’re not playing your best game, you’re losing money. Regardless of how good the game is, when you feel extremely tired, go to bed.
Mental distractions: If you have anything pressing on your mind, you’re going to have a hard time playing your best game. It’s best to not play at all when you’re in a mental state that’s anything other than “normal”. Drugs and alcohol are other mental distraction. It’s one thing to have a beer or two while you play; it’s another to try and play while hammered. Regardless of what you may think, you can’t play your best poker when you’re drunk.
Integrate a Tilt-Induced Kill Switch
Usually brought on by breaking any combination of the previous rules, or something as simple as a bad beat, tilt can drive even the most measured player into a frenzy of ridiculous bets, raises and calls. The cause of tilt is personal and can come from anywhere. Although it will vary in degree from one person to the next, it’s impossible to avoid all tilt entirely.