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How to Manage Your Bankroll

Money management is an issue that should be dealt with once your game starts showing profit. Building a bankroll takes discipline and patience. So many things can interfere with this including stepping up in blind levels too early, or needing cash in your life that you have to take from your playing bankroll. I'll try and lend some experience when it comes to cashing out and putting some of that hard-earned easy money in your pocket.

What I've been hearing the most of is, “I win money but as soon as I step up in blind levels I loose it all back.” This is very common. Poker is a game where you continue to play off the players above you every time you step up. Just like any job or apprenticeship, you pay your dues at each level. All the money funnels up to the top players. The goal is to become one of those top players.

This doesn't mean that you're going to lose at poker until you become a grand master. There's a way to avoid paying back all your winnings. The way you do it is to stay at the current blind level you're winning at. Stay there and pull money out of your bankroll.

Yes I know, the poker books and poker pros say that you keep your bankroll separate and you allow it to grow. This is fine if your life allows you to have sums of cash set aside. Most players don't have that luxury, and the bankroll shrinks when a bill has to be paid.

If you start to beat the $2/$4 game, don't take the first $500 you win and head straight for the $3/$6 game. The level change seems small, but it significant. Or if you win some cash in a tournament, it doesn't necessarily mean you're ready for the $10/$20 game.

All level changes will require a different game. Make these adjustments as easy as possible. When you feel ready to make the next step, get prepared. It's a good idea to watch the next level for awhile. Figure out and document the differences from your previous level to the new one. Once you can't find any new methods used at this level, try your luck and see how you do.

There are seasoned pros that spend a lot of time playing smaller level tables. It's like going to the golfing range. They hone their skills and get things in order when it doesn't matter so much. When it's running on all cylinders, they step into the big show where it counts. Realize that good players are at all levels and you could run into a shark anywhere. Good players will get busted every now and then and will need to build their bankroll back. These players have to start at the lower levels so don't think that pros only play the big levels. That's simply not true.

Once the money is coming in and you're on a good run you should know a few things. Some online casinos have limits on cash outs. Find out what the monthly cash-out limit is for that particular site. If you make the limit the first week of the month, you need to start playing elsewhere for the remaining three weeks. It really sucks when you have a couple of grand worth of winnings that you can't get to until the next calendar month. Spread your winnings over multiple sites, this way you can have multiple cash outs and retrieve all your winnings each month.

Also try and make the effort to set yourself up with an online bank like Paypal or Net Teller. If you use these banks you can get your winnings without delay or having your check held by the bank for 30 days. This is evolving all the time with the new laws for online gaming, but it's worth the effort to use these institutions. You will get your money right away and no one bothers you about where it came from.

Making enough money to get to the next level is not the goal, it's part of the goal. Playing poker for profit is the goal. Paying off better players is not playing for profit. Just because you can afford to play at the bigger blind levels doesn't mean that you will win money. It's ok to stay down a little lower if you're showing profit at that level. And don't forget to pull some money out and treat yourself sometimes, it's good for your soul and your game.


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