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One can never stress enough the importance of proper bankroll management in meeting long-term goals in online poker. Bankroll micro management creates edges for players. Going into a game where you’re outgunned from the start is not the way to open a winning session, rather – and this is where most beginners get it wrong – you need to commit the maximum allowed buy-in to any cash game you intend to join.

By doing so, you’ll have made sure that you’ll be a dominant force at the table, and if you pair that up with skillful play, you’ll be able to make the most of your time spent playing.

Even though tournaments have little to do with real money bank rolls (every player receives the same amount of chips at the beginning of the tourney, so no one holds an advantage over his fellow players) they provide some of the best examples of how bankroll micro management influences play.

Naturally, a few minutes after the tourney’s start, stack sizes are not the same anymore. As the game progresses and as the blinds level up, all the chips initially handed out to players slowly start to migrate towards a skilled (and lucky) few, who shall end up in the money. There will be huge differences in available bankrolls (even if – again – these are not real money bank rolls we’re discussing). This will make it possible for those who managed to gather up a big stack to bully other players around.

The best-know theory in this respect is Dan Harrington’s, in which the author categorizes the different stages of tournament play according to the size of the stack the player has at his disposal, and draws up strategy for each of the particular stages.

The bottom line is, an under-stacked player is vulnerable against his well-stacked opponents in more ways than one. A “wealthy” player can repeatedly attempt to get his fading opponent all-in. Under tournament play, the implied odds the all-in option carries are not good. That basically puts the victim in the position of having to pick his own poison. If he folds, the blinds will catch up with him and terminate him. If he calls, he’ll face the adverse implied odds of the all-in. Even if he gets lucky and wins, he’ll have solved nothing because it would take him at least a few solid double-ups to catch up with his opponent. He won’t be able to make any sort of statement through his betting patterns at the table either, because his actions will no longer carry any weight. Nobody will think twice about calling him because they won’t have to commit a significant part of their stack to do so.

All that evidence points to one conclusion: at the tournament table, the life of an under-stacked player is hell.

In a cash game, the ability to size your bankroll is in your own hands. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by not committing a large enough bankroll.

While micro-management is about your stack and its effects on the individual hand that you play, general bankroll management impacts other areas or the game. Having a generous bankroll lends you several long term advantages. Given the nature of the game of poker and the variance it features, your bankroll will have to be capable of dissipating the impact of a losing streak. Not succumbing to a downward spiral of variance will give you the opportunity to exploit the upward section of the graph. That’s exactly why experts say that a huge part of becoming a winner is about managing to simply stay alive.

General poker management depends a lot on psychology. A player needs to know when he should quit and when he should play on, and he also needs to be disciplined enough to answer the call of reason. Easier said than done in most cases, but the essence of the problem is the following: stay in the game as long as you’re on top of it and you’re winning, maximize time spent “on fire”, minimize the time you spend “cold”.

Never set yourself material goals like: “I’ll play till I’m 100,000 KSh up”. If you’re winning, play on, if you’re losing, drop it and get out of there as soon as possible. Forget about chasing your losses and stay off tilt. If you manage that, please let me know how you do it.

Don’t forget to give your bankroll a boost at the end of every month by signing up to a rakeback deal. Rakeback will stick to you like a bad habit, but in a good way: it never expires and it doesn’t take an effort on your part to work its magic.