In this free poker strategy we’ll look at a critical part of poker success – money management. If you have no skill here then even if your playing skills are amazing you will end up broke.
Please understand that in the next three paragraphs I will not be pontificating. Nor, will I be trying to tell you how to run your life….or, how to handle your money. Both of these responsibilities belong to you, and, in all candor, neither is any of my business. But, since I’m about to detail my thoughts on Bankroll Management, Stack Management, and a third subject matter (as all three relate to poker), I wanted to make mention of your first, and foremost, money management priority.
It would be terribly difficult to handle the everyday financial demands you have concerning yourself and your family if you weren’t capable of properly managing your money. Just about everyone has monthly bills for shelter, food, clothing, utilities, transportation, insurance, health, and a myriad of other ‘mail box’ notices calling out for a portion of your hard-earned income.
Then, when all of your monthly obligations have been met, the amount of money remaining in your possession….by the definition of Economists….is known as ‘disposable income’. However, you not only have the task of handling current bills, you also have the task of preparing for future bills. You can label this as ‘Savings’ or ‘Retirement Planning’ or ‘Emergency Funding’.
And, it’s often suggested by money management professionals that a minimum of 15% of your monthly income take an immediate path down the allocation road to ‘preparing for the future’. Clearly, not everyone can do this, not everyone can afford to do this, and, not everyone even knows to do this. That’s it, enough said….the first money management task is history; I made mention of it….you can take it as ever you wish.
NoPay is a free poker site….and, you can only win money; never make a deposit, never suffer a loss of your own funds. Your involvement in the game of poker, however, isn’t always free. Many of you play in Home games, play in Card Room games, play in Brick and Mortar (B &M) Casino games, and play in online poker real money games.
Moreover, just about everything I’ve addressed in this series of free poker strategy Articles was intended by me to be used not only here at NoPay, but also at ‘real money’ games. That being true, the first money management task was important.
No one should ever be involved with a real money poker game who has not properly handled their first, and primary, money management responsibility; so, if you can’t afford to play, don’t play.
The second money management consideration deals with playing online poker for real money on the Internet. And, as mentioned above, I suspect that any number of you, from time-to-time, partake in this gaming venue….possibly, some of you do so frequently.
Well….I can’t stop you from doing this. But, I can strongly advise against your participation in the Internet poker play community; at any of the ‘real money’ poker sites.
And, I’ll tell you why. With the advent of inexpensive, or free, communication methods….such as cell phones, long-distance land lines, PC messenger services, private chat sites, text messaging, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, dummyberries, or whatever….you would have to be fairly unencumbered with intellect to not recognize that many of your opponents are conversing with one another during game play.
Plus, the nature of their chat is not about the weather….it’s about online poker. More specifically, it’s about the hand that you’re currently playing. Fundamentally, you must accept the fact that cheating exists on the Internet. And, you must recognize that cheating is not limited to just communication issues.
Both Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet Poker recently had software cheating scandals well publicized; as has been the case with a number of other reasonably prominent on line poker sites. And, the bottom line is fairly simple: you don’t belong in a gaming environment where cheating occurs; or, you don’t belong in a gaming environment where the possibility of cheating even exists.
Get away from the ‘real money’ Internet sites, and place yourself in a ‘trusted’ Home Game, an ‘automated shuffle’ local B &M Casino game, or an ‘automated shuffle’ local Card Room game.
And, take note, that the ‘automated shuffle’ is an incredibly important consideration. Without it, a dealer and a player could be conspiring against you, and everyone else at your table….with a degree of frequency that you’d spend the better part of a month identifying. Plus, during that month, you’d experience a serious ‘hit’ to your bankroll.
That last word….bankroll….brings us to the third money management topic for this free poker strategy Article. And, while what I am about to convey has bearing on all of your poker playing environments, the central theme to my scribblings will principally relate to your gaming at NoPay….as it should; you’ve spent approximately six or seven months ‘Building a Bankroll’, and you most assuredly should know how to properly manage the bankroll you’ve worked so hard to build. Otherwise, what the hell have we been together for….we ain’t swappin’ spit, and we ain’t cohabiting in the ‘Farm Animal’ pastures.
The primary governance regarding bankroll management (not stack management) is ‘The Rule of 5%’.
In rudimentary English, this rule translates to never committing more than 5% of your current bankroll to any gaming venture. If your current bankroll stands at 10,000 FreeD’s, you can not participate in any poker game where it would cost you more than 500 FreeD’s to buy into the game (500 is 5% of 10,000).
Should you lose the 500, you’d be left with a bankroll of 9,500. And, your next foray into the poker gaming enclave would be limited to the use of 5% of the 9,500; or, 475 FreeD’s. Obviously, had you won when you used the 500 FreeD’s, and your bankroll expanded to something like 12,000 FreeD’s, your next foray into the poker gaming enclave would also be limited to the use of 5%….yet, that 5% would now become 600 FreeD’s (600 is 5% of 12,000).
And, any win, or any loss, will always adjust the amount of your bankroll that is available for your use in your next poker session (although nothing is carved in stone mandating that you use 5%; you’re simply limited to the use of up to 5%).
The key to the entire function of bankroll management (and the ‘rule of 5%’) is stepping down a notch after you’ve experienced a loss, and stepping up a notch after you’ve experienced a win.
However, there is a well known charter outside the world of poker, and inside the world of business. It’s contained within a book written by Peter Drucker….the title of the book is ‘Management’; and the book is widely used in both undergraduate level, and graduate level, university business classes.
And, no, I’m not asking you to read the book. Mr. Drucker has identified this charter as the ‘Peter Principle’. And, while he uses it as a tool in the process of management staff promotions….and potential management staff demotions….you need to use it as a tool in bankroll management (again, not stack management).
The ‘Peter Principle’ essentially dictates that a successful individual is promoted through the management ranks as long as he or she can handle the new assignment effectively.
Conversely, when a promotion is given to an individual who fails to live up to his or her responsibilities and expectations for the new job, that individual is demoted to the management level where he or she performed their work with a degree of excellence. In effect, promote until the person fails, then demote (back to the management level where exceptional work was done).
This very same principle needs to be applied to your bankroll management efforts. As your bankroll grows, as your skill levels expand, as your winning continues, you should be overtly willing to commit yourself to higher stake levels….this would be particularly true in cash (ring) games. But, it applies as well to tournament buy-in games.
Eventually, though, as is the case in the business world concerning successful executives, the overwhelming majority of all ‘talented’ poker players will one day be caught up in the ‘Peter Principle’.
You will have attained a stakes level where you are not only competitive, but where you are a consistent winning player. Then, the proverbial stuff hits the fan just about every time you take a step beyond that level….beyond the level where you’re routinely winning.
The advanced level, the level you’re losing at, is the ‘Peter Principle’ level, and it’s time for a demotion….where you will no longer seek to climb the stakes level ladder; at least temporarily. You have, for the most part, ‘maxed’ out your now-current abilities. And, you must now be content to remain a ‘winning player’ at the demoted level….again, at least temporarily.
Yet, there is no failure associated with the fact that the ‘Peter Principle’ has taken hold. Actually, just the opposite is true, congratulations are in order. You have demonstrated the skill and courage to move through the stakes levels, and, then you’ve demonstrated the wisdom to recognize and respect your limitations….whatever they may be.
Plus, as you gain more experience, learn new lessons, advance your skill sets, and move through possible ‘risk tolerance’ issues, the stakes level ladder will always remain available to you.
The fourth segment of money management relates to the way in which you would handle your stack during game play….and, it’s most often referred to as Stack Management.
It could, however, also be called Objectives Management; where there are four objectives.
- Your primary objective is to survive the tournament beginning….the ‘Farm Animal’ chip flinging.
- Your secondary objective is to survive the onset of the bubble….dumping the ‘Pinheads’ into the dung filled pastures.
- Your third objective is to reach the final table….waving goodbye to the herds of Jackasses.
- And, your last objective is to win the game….thereby fulfilling your ‘Building a Bankroll’ mission.
With limited exception, you’ll use Patience (Article 1) to attain your first goal; sit and watch as the ‘Farm Animals’ toss chips around in a moronic frenzy.
A few will survive, most will be trucked off to the confines of the fly-infested, muck-filled dung fields. And, in the course of your visually entertaining observations of the ‘beanbrain’ hysteria, you will have identified the targets for your ensuing premium pocket card play….assuming, of course, that both the dealer and Lady Luck opt to deposit some decent cards in your pockets.
Next, also with limited exception, you’ll use your Playable Pockets Matrix (Article 2) to attain your second goal; surviving the bubble. For the most part, the essence of your game play will be very conservative….you’re not necessarily looking to take the chip lead, you’re principally looking to progressively build your stack; maybe a little at a time, or maybe in a lump sum with the good fortune of being dealt pocket Kings or Aces that hold up through the river.
Once you’re in the money, once you’ve gotten by the bubble, it may well serve your interests to moderately shift your style of play.
After all, you should, at this point, be fully cognizant of who the bad players are, who the good players are, who the aggressive players are, and who the timid players are. And, all of that information combined should be used by you to dictate the degree to which you move into a semi-aggressive posture.
The meek do not win tournaments; they merely collect a portion of the prize pool.
The prelude to the ultimate goal is now in sight….you’ve made the final table; it’s time to garner a tourney title. How?
Well….it’s not easy! But, you know your opponents, you know your skill level, you have a complete command of Pot Odds, and you understand the importance of table position. So, put on your very best ‘game play’ hat and shades, softly whisper a pleasant greeting to Lady Luck (you’re gonna need her at least once), and cast any form of timidity aside….the winner is most often the aggressor.
Plus, it’s fitting that stack size now becomes one of the most significant components of final table play….especially since the subject matter contained within the last few paragraphs has been stack management. If you’re the low stack, and you’re dealt any worthwhile pocket cards, your play is going to be super aggressive.
Alternately, if you’re the high stack, maintain the semi-aggressive posture that got you to the final table in the first place….let your opponents knock heads, and watch them depart the game one by one.
If your mid-stacked, play the advantaged game you’ve come to learn, be ever mindful of Pot Odds, completely ignore Implied Odds (they serve almost no useful purpose in final table play), be certain that all of your bets are equal to the size of the pot, try to slow-play any ‘nuts’ hand that you hold, and always be extremely attentive to the Big Blind/Small Blind hands whenever there is a ‘no pre-flop raise’ situation. These two seats have the potential to turn pocket rag/rag into a monster hand if a terrible flop hits the board.
Best of Luck at the Tables
(c) copyright 2008; no reproduction, all rights reserved by D. M. Vadnais
(THIS ARTICLE IS CONTINUED IN NEXT MONTH’S POST)
Next in your free poker lessons strategy money management lesson course is A Lesson from Russia – The Gambler’s Mindset
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