05 April 2006

Bankroll Management

Hardee's biscuits kept me employed during my early career in G-Vegas. I worked at a textile plant near Marietta, and after third shift we would get our employees together and feed them different Hardee's biscuits: ham, sausage, bacon and egg, or my own sweet spot chicken. While consuming the biscuits, they would tell us what was screwed up and how to improve quality and efficiency. It was an ironical, laughable situation. Here were inbred, mostly illiterate folks who were supervised by college freshouts (mostly engineers who acted above these lowly employees). We called them associates to pretend like they were part of the team. The shift workers would have to break in their new shift supervisors, either humoring them when directing or undermining them when they got pissed off. I was a lead by example kind of guy, so I would always jump in when there were major problems like a tangle in a dye machine or picks coming out of #3. A tangle was when a knot would form in one of the dyeing tubes (three or four-tube machines, each holding 300 pounds of dry plush automotive seating upholstery fabric). The temperature would have to come down to below boiling, the pressure would then be low enough to open the machine, and you quickly had to try and untangle 350-degree wet fabric. It was an absolute mess, and it caused either rework or scrap. The picks were an even better event. We also dyed swimsuit and lingerie fabric in different machines, and we would check the fabric when unloading to see if there were any visible picks (frays) on the fabric. If we found them, we would have to rinse the machine then climb into the tight tube with a piece of lycra fabric to try and find the burr somewhere in the stainless steel tube. When we found the burr, we would sand it clean, then run leader fabric with some more lycra samples to be sure we had found the burr. It was extremely claustrophic if you let it be, but I would normally dive in as it was a big responsibility to find it and not ruin another huge amount of fabric if you screwed it up.

I credit Wes with giving me either tough love or plain being insulting to me regarding bankroll management. I had a basic understanding of bankroll management a year ago, but I thought it was for those less talented than me. Poker was also like golf for me, meaning I spent money on it rather than had it as a self-sustaining enterprise. Today's common wisdom put proper bankrolls at 300-1000x the big bet. I definitely shoot for the lower amount most of the time, and I tend to have different rules online vs. live. Call it either success or a false level of security. I have been much more successful live than online, so I'll play regularly at $15/30 live while my main game now online is $5/10 or below. I don't take premeditated shots but will often sit at a higher limit than I had planned due to lack of tables. Like yesterday, everything was filled with waiting lists like ten or twelve players for 5/10, 10/20, and 15/30. I tried to get another 10/20 game started but couldn't get anyone to join me. Within a minute, a 15/30 table opened for me then a 10/20. So, I'm playing at the 15/30 table.

Is it beyond my bankroll? Yeah from virtually every source of opinion imaginable. Is it outside of my comfort zone? No, I actually tend to play at a more intense level if the stakes are higher (doing less donkified things). Should I do it? No. What should you do if you have a couple hours to burn? Well, that is my perpetual state and is a constant struggle, especially during daytime hours when the few players at the tables are just a bunch of good poker junkies that are only focused on either bluffing me out of pots, calling my bluffs, or having bigger hands than me. The worst thing you can see at a table are a bunch of poker players. I can't even imagine the biggest games.

You just can't imagine all the emails and comments on the Relationships and Poker series. One of the basic disconnects between husbands and wives that ties back into bankroll management seems to be financial vs. time consumption. As a poker player, I measure my play first and foremost with my bankroll. Was I up or down for the session, for the week, for the month. While most wives don't want to be homless except for an internet connection, what really seems to be the driving concern and source of frustration for many is how much time the broad category of poker takes. Playing, watching television, reading books, reading and writing blogs, then distracting us when we are with our loved ones. Of course, we only measure the amount of time that shows up in PokerTracker.

When I say it is connected to bankroll management, I submit that bankroll management starts with the amount of the bets you can make (3/6 vs 15/30). It also is about the quality of your play. If I knew I would only play five hours this week, would I devote myself to playing my absolute best? I would guess that I play my absolute best probably 10-25% of the time, play almost like a bot 25-75% of the time, and play in a distracted, donkified way 20-50% of the time. That doesn't mean that my best yields superior results every time, but it does mean that my play and the others in my life deserve to have me play a finite amount while playing my best almost the entire time.


A great dinner last night at Monterrey's, and a nice day so far of working out and swimming. The boys are off to their next golf lesson, and I'll be working a bit and maybe hitting a few balls. Looks like my big golf week has turned into no golf unless I can play tomorrow morning. We'll see. My brother-in-law and I are off to BadBlood's home game for tonight, so I'll have more tomorrow on that.

8 Comments:

Blogger Klopzi said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Klopzi said...

I understand where you're going with your argument, but you've got to be careful to disregard your sense of abilities or skills when deciding what you can play.

I regard my bankroll as a variance buffer. If I get unlucky for a couple months, my bankroll will sustain me. Why? Because I force myself to play down at the level of my bankroll.

Even if I know I can beat a $30/$60 game, I need a bankroll of at least $18K. I could be the best player in the world and I'd still need an $18K bankroll.

And just as I'll move up in buy-ins or limits as my bankroll increases, I force myself to move down if my bankroll has shrunk below the standard 300 BB/30 buy-in levels.

For the sake of your bankroll and your sanity, just remember: bankroll determines which tables you can play and not your mad skillz.

And, for the record, I've heard a simple rule of thumb for determing which limits you can play live vs. online. Take the online limit and multiply by 4 to determine your live game limits.

So, if you play $5/$10 online, you should be able to $20/$40 live. Of course, this formula breaks down at the very high and very low ends of the spectrum.

By the way, great blog. Finished reading all the entries...the roller-coaster ride that is your bankroll has been exciting at times and absolutely bone-chilling at other times. A great read!

12:54 PM  
Blogger cc said...

klopzi, I think we're on the same page there regarding variance buffer. And I like the 4x online vs. live, very nice.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I agree with klopzi -- you need to have a 300 BB bankroll.
Sure, live games are generally softer than online games, but variance is similar regardless of where you play.
Live, online, whatever. It's all the same bankroll, whether it's in cash or in Neteller.

2:24 PM  
Blogger kurokitty said...

I consider myself a good driver, possibly better than most people, but I would never drive without insurance.

In my first couple years playing poker in casinos, I didn't know a thing about bankroll. I thought that if I had $500, I was ready for the $10/20 limit game at Orleans or the Bellagio's juicy $2/5 NL game. I know many of my friends think this way.

But front-line, active duty poker players should never think this way. We have the best information and should know better. The 300-1000 BB guideline comes from professionals, people who eke their living out at the tables. We should know better than to try to reinvent the wheel.

That said, I saw something recently where maybe it makes sense to gamble more with your bankroll at lower limits and to not grind it out at $2/4 when economically you really could be playing higher. Maybe you fit in this category.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Scott Cunningham said...

I like that line, "I consider myself a good driver but would never drive without insurance." The bankroll IS insurance, because poker is stochastic in part. Very memorable point.

How do you translate the "300xbb" when working with NLH, though? I understand its meaning with limit (ie, 300 times the big bet) but there is "big bet" in NLH, unless we mean the buy-in. So if the max buy-in is $25 in a NLH game where the blinds are .25/.25, do I need to have 300x$25?

4:29 PM  
Blogger cc said...

All that, so I tend to play at the low end of bankroll management ($7k bankroll playing $5/10 online, except when I goof up). $15/30 live, look, I have to play that. I can't really deal with seven callers playing $4/8, I can beat the Bellagio $15/30 game consistently, and I either don't have the bankroll or are too fraidy scared to play above that (actually, both). And Scott, for me it wouldn't matter what bankroll I have for NLHE, it would evaporate one buy-in at a time...

4:38 PM  
Blogger kurokitty said...

Scott, NL players typically gauge bankroll as a function of buy-in, especially in games where there is a max. The going rate is you should have at least 20 buy-ins, or $500 for NL$25.

6:57 PM  

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