Being A Baller Makes Your Bankroll Smaller

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This blog covers topics relevant to professional and aspiring professional MTT and MTTSNG players. Cross-posted from our website http://www.standardbacking.com/blog/

The easy part of being a professional poker player is learning how to beat the game.  Yes, that’s the easy part. Sure, there are players who’ll only be able to beat small stakes and others who’ll destroy the nosebleeds, but that’s a matter of finding your niche and your level of maximum profitability, but everyone can learn to beat the games and make poker a career option.  But not everyone can become a poker professional.  Some of the best poker players suck at being a poker professional, broke high-stakes players are a dime a dozen. I’ll explain.

Poker is uncertain. Cards have no memory, and when you lose a 80-20, there’s nothing that says you’ll win the next 4, (in fact, losing usually leads to more losing, not because of the cards, but because of you, but that’s for another post), so, if at a regular job the “earn $10 : spend $10” philosophy is bad, as a professional poker player, it’s horrible. There are months where you win enough to pay your bills for one year and there are years where you don’t win enough to pay your bills for one month.

“Well, that’s what bankrolls and bankroll management is for”, you might think, and you’re correct, but bankrolls have a last dollar. which is why you need to preserve it. Money is your tool at the tables, like a soldier’s’ gun or a baker’s oven.  It makes no sense throwing your tools away, away from the tables. Your living expenses are the biggest obstacle to becoming a successful professional poker player.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m not advising to live on bread and water and sleep on the floor to save on a mattress, everyone likes nice things and they keep you happy, and a happy worker produces way more, in poker or in any other walk of life, what i’m saying is that money management is what separates a successful poker profession from a wanna-be or a has-been poker professional.

Ask yourself, what’s your “monthly nut”? Your monthly nut is the amount of money you’ll ALWAYS have to spend, every month. This is your rent, food, electricity, water, gas, internet, phone and whatever bills you have to pay monthly. Let’s say that represents 50% of your monthly income, that means you have 50% of spare money to splurge around, right? Wrong.

Doing that leaves you extremely vulnerable to a run of bad luck. Even if you think you’re unaffected by variance, it always helps to have some kind of plan b to rely on when the unexpected happens. What if you get sick? What if you can’t play for a period of time? Remember Black Friday? At least you have something to fall on while you decide on your next step. You should also look for ways to diversify your income away from poker, via selling stakes, getting backing, or investing into ventures outside of poker, but this is something for another post.  

So how to do it? Well, depending on what stakes you play, how much you earn, and your fixed expenses, define a salary for yourself, a number that doesn’t change regardless of whether you win or lose, and give yourself “budgets” based on that: a “leisure budget”, an “investment budget” and save something for those months where your hands just won’t hold up, because they will occur.  When you can’t control your income the only alternative is to control your costs. 

By increasing your bankroll you give yourself the chance to, with study and work outside the tables, increase your earnings, and with time, the leisure money will increase as well, allowing you to do or get what makes you happy, (after all, that’s why anyone does anything), without risking becoming broke and becoming a has-been of a poker professional.

Luís Lebre



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