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Bankroll Rules and Warm-ups | Podcast #236


Sky Matsuhashi

on May 19, 2019

I discuss the importance of following bankroll rules and doing simple warm-ups prior to your play sessions.  Set yourself up for poker session success!

In case you missed episode 235, I answered questions about handling poker downswings, improving on-the-felt focus and avoiding boredom.

Challenge (2:10)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Make sure you’re properly rolled for you next session with at least 40 buy-ins for cash games or 100-200 buy-ins for tournaments. This will help you be less concerned with the money at risk. Pair these bankroll rules with doing a warm-up of your choosing to get you into the right mindset for great, +EV decision making.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Following Bankroll Rules (3:30)

I started playing poker back in 2003. Back then, I was just playing in LIVE poker games. I had no idea there was something called a bankroll.

I simply went to the card room with some cash, I plunked down my buy-in and started playing. I would normally leave the card room when I went bust or when I was up about $100.

The long term wasn't the thing in my thoughts, nor was handling variance.

Variance is the normal ups and downs that come with poker. You can be making the best decisions over and over again in your games, but sometimes the cards just go against you and you end up losing for a sustained duration.

Keeping your poker bankroll separate from your “life” role is a very important idea that helps you weather the variance in poker.

In order to keep our poker bankroll, we have to follow good bankroll management rules. If you are under-rolled for a stake, like having $600 to your name and buying into $100 games, you can blow through that roll quicker than grass through a goose.

Being under-rolled like this can cause you to be very concerned with the money at risk and it can often lead to scared play.

Scared play doesn't do you any good. You can't make the +EV aggressive plays when you're afraid of losing the money at risk.

I have some very simple bankroll rules that I recommend you follow.  They are a bit conservative, but they will help you keep your bankroll alive.



The Bankroll Rules

For cash game players I recommend to have 40 buy-ins in your bankroll. So, if you have a $1,000 bankroll, that is 40 $25 buy-ins, which means you can play 25nl comfortably.

Your experience will vary, but the worst downswing I ever had was roughly 12 buy-ins. By following this 40x buy-in bankroll rule, when I lost the 12 buy-ins I was down to roughly 30 buy-ins or so. I kept on playing at my normal stake until I built it back up to 40 buy-ins and then beyond.

It's a little bit different for MTT and SNG players. I recommend anywhere from 100 to 200 buy ins, and the higher the stakes you play the closer you should be to 200 buy-ins.

For that same $1000 bankroll, I can play anywhere from $5 tournaments to $10 tournaments.

The reason for this higher bankroll requirement for tourneys is because they seem to have a little bit more variance. You can go through streaks of 10, 20 or even 30 tournaments without a single cash.

Reiterate the two reasons for following bankroll requirements:

1. Having an adequate bankroll to carry you through losses.

2. There is a peace of mind that comes with not having too much money on the line during any one session. When you're not overly concerned with the money at risk, you're more able to make some of those difficult and aggressive plays that often takes lots of chips.

Start your audiobook learning by picking up ‘Preflop Online Poker' through Click the pic above to begin your free 30-day trial (your first book is free) or to purchase the audiobook version if you're already a member.

3-part Warm-ups (10:40)

My guess is that most of you listening do not conduct warm-ups prior to your poker play sessions. You simply fire up your software, jump on a few tables and start playing each hand that's dealt to you.

But, in just about every part of life from playing sports to playing musical instruments to doing a presentation at work to going for a job interview, everybody warms up prior to the “big game”.

When your performance matters to you, you've got to get your mind and body ready for what you're about to do.

So, why don't poker players warm-up? Maybe it's because poker is a game, and like most games from Nintendo to chess to ping pong, we simply turn it on or set up the board or table and start playing.

Poker is a game but it's a game with money on the line and a game that you are actively trying to improve your skills within.

So warming up must be a priority for each of us.

I'm constantly changing up my warm-ups and they seem to be different all the time. Within this podcast I've given you 8-step warm-up suggestions before and one-part warm-up suggestions. I have been all over the place with my warm-ups, but I want to get super simple and to the point today.

Here's my very simple 2-part warm up that if you do just these two, you will have set yourself up for success.

1. Ditch the Distractions

The thing that most frequently leads me to poor sessions is being distracted. Here are a few things that pull my attention away:

  • Responding to emails
  • Watching a movie on Netflix
  • My boys trying to get my attention
  • Alcohol
  • Playing tired

You might be saying, “Sky, how could you?! Watching Netflix while you play? Indecent.”  Yep, guilty as charged. Just because I’m a coach, doesn’t mean I don’t make mistakes. I’m making them all the time, but I’m trying to learn from them and not repeat them.

You need to figure out the things that distract you and ditch them prior to your session.

2. Choose a Strategy Focus

The best way to learn is by taking action, so you should treat each of your play sessions as an opportunity to practice a specific strategy.

You goal on the felt is to practice whatever strategy you’re studying right now.

Did you watch a 3bet bluffing video during lunch? Practice your 3bet bluffs tonight.

Listened to my podcast on making bigger isolation raises preflop? Practice them tonight.

You’re listening to this podcast right now, so make sure you’re following the bankroll rules I gave earlier and conduct your first warm-up tonight.

Additional Warm-up Ideas

Devise a Tick Sheet

I love tick sheets to help me stay focused on my strategy of choice for the session.

If you want to practice your 3bet bluffs in your next session, whip out a piece of paper and at the top of it write “3bet Bluff” in the left-hand column, “Value 3bet” in the middle column and “Skipped 3bet” in the right-hand column. For every 3betting opportunity you face, make your play and put a tick mark in the appropriate column.

Record Game Tape

Decide before you begin your session whether or not you will record game tape. If you decide to do it, set up the software and your microphone before you start your session.

Hand Reading Practice

Do a full hand reading exercise involving your strategy of choice.

If you are going to work on 3bet bluffing, find a 3bet bluffing hand that went to showdown. Run the hand through Flopzilla and assign your opponent a preflop range and narrow it through the streets. This will get you thinking about poker before your session begins and it will focus you on your strategy of choice even better.

Have a HUD Stat Focus

We can all improve our understanding of different HUD stats.

Maybe you don’t really know how to use AF (Aggression Factor) in game. Well, focus on it for this entire session and make sure you look at the player’s AF stat before you enter a pot with them. If you open-raised and they called a preflop, look at their stat on the flop to get a gauge of how aggressive they are.

The more you practice and try to make decisions with your statistics, the more useful they will become.

Support the Show

Chris Garber picked up PokerTracker 4 through my affiliate link (at no additional cost to him and he supported the show).  Chris knows this is the best poker tracking software available, and it”s the only one I recommend!  In appreciation of his support, I sent him the Smart HUD to aid in exploiting every opponent he faces and in making more +EV decisions.  Plus, that database of hands to study is pretty nifty.

The Smart HUD with 4+ hours of training was purchased many times this past week by some super-duper poker peeps: Timothy Palumbo, Lasse, Frank Rieble, Radislov Kitanov, Matthew Brown, Ki U Yi, Paul Mole, Gabriel de la Torre and Jan.  Thank you all so much for putting a bit of faith in this PT4 HUD.  The webinar that comes with the Smart HUD is going to teach you all you've ever wanted to know about utilizing your HUD to understand the player you're up against and to make exploitative plays.

Drew purchased How to Study Poker Volume 1 in PDF form.  He's ready to begin his poker study journey.  Good luck, Drew.

Up Next…

In episode #237, I’ll discuss ways to play more tables and have a kick-ass attitude on-the-felt.

Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.


Sky Matsuhashi

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