Why My Poker Bankroll Is My Business

Why My Poker Bankroll Is My Business

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A poker player’s bankroll – the amount of money available to play with – is often run like a business – at least by the smarter players. The ability to ensure a continued source of cash is key to the ability to make more, something many, too, in the business world can understand. But the similarities between running a small business or enterprise, and keeping your blood flow high enough to compete, do run further.

Most poker players don’t have the cash ready to buy into tournaments whenever they feel the need, so instead require a bankroll to build and spend uniquely on poker outing. Of course, your initial bankroll is exactly the same as the initial investment you made for your business.

Related: Recession-Proofing Your business In A Challenging Economic Climate

It is rare to see a new player open a poker account and understand exactly how to make the most of the amount he has available to him. In the majority of cases, newbies might be inclined to deposit $20 and then go and enter a $20 tournament – or sit at a $20 cash game. But, surely, this is like opening a supermarket and filling the shelves with nothing but cereal – sure, everyone loves cereal, but it’s not the best way of making money.

So, instead of entering the first megabucks tournament you see, you first need to understand a little mathematical theory known as variance. We all understand what that means and even understand its effect on our everyday life but, in poker at least it refers to something specific.

The concept of variance suggests that even the greatest players can only do *so much* to eek out rewards over a long period. Variance is what regular players and hobbyists will often scream when they’re sucked out on late on the river. It happens. But, in short, this dark mistress can make good players lose in a huge amount of situations – even professional online players only cash in around 30-40% of tournaments they play in.


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As such, much like hedge funders and stock brokers might advise, playing a wider variety of smaller games to ensure your bankroll can feel the full benefit.

For anyone looking to take poker seriously, as a source of income, your bankroll should be your livelihood. If the bankroll is empty, your ability to earn money has also disappeared, so you need to be smart with each and every investment.

Often, months – or sometimes even years – after the initial idea or business is conceived, we come to find specialties that are selling well, where we perhaps only saw small income from before. In our supermarket, for example, if we were selling out of fresh meat, perhaps opening a deli counter might need to be prioritised? And this concept is true, too, in poker.

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Often, when starting a new bankroll, players might be tempted to stick to grinding the cash tables or picking off multi-table tournaments (MTTs) but there is no need to be so exclusive. As with business, when opening up in poker, play the field and work out where you make money – be a generalist and don’t get sucked into playing for big money.

Regardless of the similarities, both the worlds of small business and poker are extremely difficult to conquer. Ultimately, however, being successful in each comes to how well one can manage their money. The risk reward concept can be tempting when staring into the barrel of a $160 tournament – but it’s not worth blowing the bankroll. The more tournament a poker player might win, the bigger his bankroll and, subsequently, the bigger the payouts for the next ones.

Harald Merckel
Harald Merckel is a freelance writer whose primary focuses are business, e-gaming and marketing. Although he loves tech gadgetry as much as the next guy, Merkel prefers to write with pen on paper. Merkel has a B.A. in Business and Communication from HWR-Berlin, where he was active in the Studentenwerk Berlin organisation. He has been a proud Berlin resident since the late 1990s.

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