If you haven’t stopped to take the time to answer this question, you should because it dictates how you should play the game. If it’s about winning some money (or a lot of it) and building up your online poker bankroll, then learning to treat poker like a business is essential. Here are some important tips to help you get started.
You all must have heard that it takes money to make money, and of course this is true in poker. The first step to building your online poker bankroll is to either deposit money into an online poker site specifically to play online poker.
Alternatively, if you have a limited amount of funds, you can try and build a bankroll from the ground up. This will obviously be a more difficult thing to do, but if you are committed to building a bankroll it should only be a matter of time before you win some money from freerolls, allowing you to play other real money online poker games where there is greater potential to make money.
Some online poker sites also offer a no deposit bonus to new players, which requires no deposit at all. However, if you make a deposit, you will receive a much bigger bonus and once you clear it will have a healthier bankroll to play the games that you think will give you the best chance of success.
You can’t expect to be crushing the online poker games you start playing right away because you don’t have any experience, but with a large enough bankroll you can deal with the bad run of cards and the mistakes you’ll inevitably be making.
The one mistake that most beginner online poker players make is to ignore bankroll management. Although you can’t expect to have an unlimited source of funds to play with, your bankroll needs to be big enough to deal with the inevitable swings that are part of the game.
In order to determine how big you want your starting poker bankroll to be, you must decide what games you wish to play in the online poker room. This will largely come down to which games appeal to you the most because if you’re not enjoying yourself you’re going to burn out and it can also have a detrimental affect on how you play.
Bankrolls are usually discussed in terms of the number of buy-ins. How big does your online poker bankroll need to be? Most online poker players would recommend:
- 20-30 buy-ins is the minimum for playing cash games
- 30-50 buy-ins is the minimum for playing SNGs
- 100 buy-ins is the minimum for playing MTTs
The cushion in your online poker bankroll will not only prevent you from going broke, it will give you the freedom you need to play your normal game without playing with scared money, which is crucial because aggression is a key factor.
You also need to consider bankroll preservation strategies. It is just as important as trying to build up a bankroll. By setting stop-loss limits and quitting a session whenever you’ve lost a pre-determined number of buy-ins, you will avoid tilting off your bankroll.
Choosing Your Best Game
Although there are so many different poker variations and levels of play, when you break it down there’s two main forms of poker you can play online, poker tournaments and cash games. Both games have their advantages and disadvantages and most players tend to gravitate towards one or the other.
Tournaments offer the opportunity to win huge cash prizes particularly when playing multi-table tournaments, but they are scheduled to start at a pre-determined time, and therefore aren’t as flexible as cash games, which are always running around the clock and allow you to take your chips off the table and quit at anytime.
If you’re playing tournaments, you will generally need a bigger bankroll even when playing at the lower stakes, because these games, particularly MTTs, are higher variance than cash games, and you can go for long stretches without a cash.
Sure, a big tournament score will be fantastic for boosting your online poker bankroll, but it may take some time before a win comes around.
Also, even though the basic rules are the same for both tournaments and cash games, they are very different animals.
Fast structure tournaments and sit n go’s favour aggressive play while a more conservative style can work in cash games, so one’s playing tendencies is another factor in deciding which game to play.
Regardless of whether you choose to play real money online poker tournaments or cash games, it requires a great deal of commitment to become a winning player. As a player who is just starting out in their online poker career, stick to playing one type of poker game at the same stakes. There is a learning curve to climb, however, by not spreading your focus too widely, it will allow you to concentrate on becoming a much improved player at one particular form of poker.
The best type of games for new players are micro-stake cash games and tournaments. These games will allow you to gain good experience on the virtual felt without risking a lot of money. So you can focus on making the correct decisions instead of the money. If you can reach a level where you can be confident in being one of the best players at the table every time you play, you will basically be printing money.
Multi-Tabling To Increase Your Profits
Once you know you’re a winning player at a certain stakes level, then you can begin to gradually increase your profits and bankroll by multi-tabling.
This is important for several reasons. First of all, multi-tabling poker games will prevent you from playing mediocre hands out of boredom. When you’re playing at several tables, you’re typically always going to be involved in the action.
Of course, because you are playing more hands than you would if you were just playing at a single table, it’s possible to make more money. But you must be sure that playing more tables doesn’t greatly affect your win rate. Hence, the importance of gradually adding more tables.
Using Poker Tracking Software
Getting poker software so that you can have a heads-up display (HUD) at the poker table is important if you’re multi-tabling, because you can’t expect to be paying attention on every opponent when playing at several tables.
- VPIP (Voluntarily Put Money In Pot)
- PFR (Pre-Flop Raise)
- Fold to 3-bet
- Fold to c-bet
- The total number of hands played
You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with information when you are just learning to use poker tracking software. At first, you should at least display the above statistics. You just need to make sure that you’re interpreting these stats correctly, otherwise they may do more harm than good.
When you’re first getting started it will also help to analyze hands away from the virtual felt. Again, poker tracking software will help with this. You should review hands where you lost the most money. By analyzing key hands and situations from each of your sessions, you will begin to question why you are doing certain things, and optimize the lines you’re taking to make more money when you have the best hand and lose the least when you have the second best hand!
Participating in poker forums like TwoPlusTwo and PocketFives at the stakes you play at will allow you to get feedback on hands. Besides playing, getting feedback on previous hands you’ve played from other winning players is probably the biggest factor that will improve your game.
Bumping Up The Stakes
As you begin to make money playing real money online poker games, it can be very tempting to take a few shots at higher-stakes games. Unfortunately, many online poker players have gone broke “taking shots” at games they weren’t properly bankrolled for. You also have to consider the skill level of opponents as you progress through the stakes is better.
This is not to say you should never take a shot at higher stakes. If you do it in a calculated manner, you’ll be able to maximize your profits. And if it doesn’t work out and your bankroll takes a hit, you just need the discipline to drop down in stakes.
When you’re shot taking it would be a wise idea to add one table at a time until you are comfortable playing in the bigger game rather than firing up 4-6 new tables at higher-stakes you’ve never played at before.
When all is said and done, building an online poker bankroll takes time and patience. It is extremely important to dedicate yourself to learning the nuances of the games you’re playing and to always be trying to improve to learn and grow your bankroll.
*Heads-Up is another poker game were you only face one single opponent. Building up your skills in this type of game will turn you into a pro. Here are some Heads-Up strategy tips if you wish to try it out.