Poker is a very popular game. Some people turn to it because its variations are easy to learn and you can pick it up quickly. Others choose to play poker because it’s one of those games you can play with friends – either at home or in a casino setting. Others turn to poker as a means of winning money, even though it’s common to lose about 30-40% of your buy-in. The majority of players tend to lose their bankroll quickly and find themselves tempted to put things other than money at stake.
However, poker is perfectly fine as a hobby as well, but it’s usually more enjoyable if you’re playing without losing your real hard-earned money. Even if there are players who have won thousands if not millions of dollars in professional tournaments, this is usually only applicable to professional players who have studied and practiced the game for years. For beginners just starting out, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can protect your bankroll while still enjoying the game and learning how to play.
Understand Your Position at the Table
It’s important to understand where you’re sitting – your position related to the blinds is a main factor when it comes to making decisions in poker. Generally speaking, most players will tell you that the late position is best – the reasoning behind this is that you can see everyone else’s decision before you have to make yours, which is extremely important pre-flop. Also, your playing strategy will probably change depending on where you’re sitting. The blinds (small blind and big blind) must bet at the beginning of each play. These positions are meant to incentivize players, especially in later positions. Otherwise, what are you playing for?
Learn to Calculate Odds
Learning to calculate odds in poker games will help you make better decisions about when to bet and when to fold, which will hopefully reduce both the number of losses and the amount of money lost. For example, if the pot has $100, and you add another $50, your pot odds are 2-1. That’s great, but consider the odds of your hand and your opponents’ hands. Each suit has 13 cards in a deck, and each number has 4 cards. While you can’t know exactly what your opponents have, you can guess based on what you currently have, what’s been dealt by the dealer, and how your opponents are acting. If an opponent is playing conservatively, chances are they don’t have a great hand. On the other side of the coin, if they’re going all-in before the flop, they probably have a pretty decent hand. Use your opponents’ actions in order to determine your own. You can also download certain odds calculators or even read books like ‘Texas Hold’em Odds and Probabilities’ by Matthew Hilger which you can buy on Amazon.
Track Your Spending
We’ve discussed tracking your spending as a general money-saving tip. As it turns out, it’s vital to practice in poker as well –– keeping track of your buy-ins so they don’t get out of control is how you make sure you don’t go over budget. Keep an eye on your bankroll, and never bet more than you can reasonably afford, especially when it comes to high-stakes games. If you have to, keep a notebook and track your wins and losses and protect what you currently have. There is also dedicated software that can track your bankroll, so if you get really serious check out software such as Poker Stack: Poker Bankroll Management app on iOS and Android.
Know When to Stop
That point is bound to hit you sooner or later – the moment when you have to stop in order to protect what you still have. Some players set a certain number of hands and promise themselves to stop at that point. Others use their bankroll in order to determine when it’s time to get up. Smart players tend to quit while they’re ahead – even if their bankroll is bigger than what they started out with. At least you can use that extra bankroll money for the next session!
Losing money while playing poker is essentially inevitable, but there are steps you can take in order to mitigate how much you lose, and how often it happens. Poker is a game of luck, so you’ll always have bad and good days. Study up and learn the game in order to make the good days great, and the bad days not as bad. And don’t forget to use technology to your advantages.