When most new poker players get a no-deposit bonus, they treat it like free money rather than an investment. The way these players try to build their bankroll is to buy into the biggest game they can afford and hope to get lucky. Most of the time, however, their luck doesn’t come through and their money is wasted. The only way to build your no-deposit bonus into a small fortune is to find Jesus.
Chris “Jesus” Ferguson is a professional poker player that, among other things, is known for turning $0 into $10,000 by playing poker online while using a strict bankroll management system. If you’re serious about making money in poker, you’ll have to know the five commandments of bankroll management.
1st Commandment – Thou Shalt Have The Patience Of A Saint
This commandment runs contrary to the nature of most poker players I’ve met. Poker players tend to be a boisterous group that likes to brag about how fast they made their money and how they “played some donk and stacked them.” And while it’s true that making bold moves and taking chances makes for good war stories, it makes for pathetically small bankrolls. Consistent profit comes from solid, methodical play. To quote my grandpa, “You get greedy, you join the needy.”
2nd Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Spend Over 5% Of Your Bankroll To Buy Into A Sit N’ Go Or Cash Game
There’s some leeway with this commandment when you first start building your bankroll. For example, you’ll be hard pressed to find a game with a $0.50 buy-in if your no-deposit bonus is $10 or less. In that case, you can buy-in to any Sit ‘N Go or cash game for $2.50 or less. Once you build your bankroll however, this commandment is unbendable. Don’t use this commandment’s flexibility to rationalize moving up before your bankroll is ready.
3rd Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Spend Over 2% Of Your Bankroll To Buy Into A Multi-Table Tournament
This is where most new players screw up. If they get a no-deposit bonus of $25, then they buy into a $25 tournament and hope for the best. These players are lured by the high payouts that the top five players get and while the rewards of multi-table tournaments can be huge, so is the variance.
If you’re going to play multi-table tournaments, you have to be prepared to lose…a lot. Make sure you don’t use more than 2% of your bankroll so you can weather the swings.
Again, the exception to this rule is when your bankroll is ridiculously small. When your bankroll is still small, you can always buy into a multi-table tournament for $1 or less.
4th Commandment – Thou Shalt Have A Solid Exit Strategy
Sit ‘N Goes and Multi-table tournaments are easy to leave. You leave when you win or bust out. Cash games, however, can go on forever. You need to have a strategy that tells you when to leave. Ferguson recommends leaving the table anytime the money in front of you is more than 10% of your total bankroll.
5th Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Be Afraid To Move Down In Limits
Some poker players refuse to move down. If they move up to the $20 Sit ‘N Goes, they refuse to go back to the $10 Sit ‘N Goes no matter how low their bankroll gets. These players say it’s a matter of pride, but I say it’s hubris. If you have to move down in limits to follow the 2nd and 3rd commandments, do it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a new poker player or seasoned professional. If you don’t manage your bankroll properly, you will go broke. It’s only a matter of time.