Poker Cash Game Bankroll Management

Yesterday, I got an interesting email from a poker coaching client in Australia. He and another player were talking about playing cash games at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. The other player said, "I don't play down to zero. If I start with $300 and lose $200, I will then get up and walk away."
That's what I call a 'Stop Loss' point. Every winning poker player needs one. What is yours? If you don't have one, it is time to decide… BEFORE your next poker outing.
Here's what I do. Whenever I am playing cash, first, I pick the game based on my poker bankroll for that day. In my pocket, I want to have an amount equal to at least three buy-ins. That way I don't feel like I am playing with scared money.
If I lose down to half my stack, either I replenish it immediately to my original buy-in, or I get up. If I get up, it is with the intention of doing proactive debriefing so that I can more clearly see what has been going on.
This is how my debriefing goes: What have I been doing correctly? Where can I concentrate in order to be more effective? What might I have done differently? Who's giving me the most trouble at the poker table? Is it another player… or am I getting in my own way?
I may get up for a while, or I may leave the game entirely. It all depends.
Either way, by doing this, I look at what has been happening in a productive way, embrace my abundance, and it helps me avoid two things:
  • being short stacked when the opportunity arises to win big
  • slipping into lack or scarcity mentality
When you let your chip stack dwindle down, you literally give your power away. You not only leak chips, but you leak energy. When you think that you don't have enough chips to take a stand, you're probably right.
Simply put… energy follows thought.
If you put yourself into a cash game where you only have one buy-in, you've set yourself up for failure. Even when you are playing your A-game, it's possible that you may lose a few hands before you settle into the flow of the game.
Pick cash games so that your budget allows you a minimum of three buy-ins. It may mean that you sit down at smaller games than your ego prefers, or even smaller games than you are accustomed to playing.
When you have three buy-ins comfortably nestled in your pocket, you feel abundant before you even sit down. It's not just a case of being able to afford that particular poker game; it's the difference between playing with scared money or a smart bankroll.
Donna Blevins
Poker Mindset Coach

3 thoughts on “Poker Cash Game Bankroll Management”

  1. Donna, this is definitely a great tip! I also adopt a stop/loss limit when playing poker and it has definitely helped. I think another thing worth mentioning is the importance of identifying your tilt point, and for everyone this will be different. If your tilt point is 3 buy ins, then what you have said above applies. But if you have a tendency to tilt and spew after you have lost 2 buy ins, for example, then it’s probably a good idea to only bring 2 buy ins with you, so you aren’t tempted to continue playing when you’re tilted.

    1. Well said David! Actually I’ve talked about ’tilt point’ for years. Looks like it’s time to get that down in print. 🙂

    2. David, let me put some of it in print! Discover where your tilt point is and take action to avoid it or know how to shift your mindset when you tilt. When tilted, get your butt out of the seat and walk away…even if you are in a tournament, step away from the table for a while. So what if you automatically post antes and blinds while away for the table, let them go rather than fuel your tilt.

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