Emotional bankroll

November 13, 2007

This is an interesting term that I don’t recall coming across before. You have your money bankroll, but you also have an emotional bankroll. This is probably more important than the money one, and in many cases, including mine, is probably much smaller than the real cash one.

There are preset ratios that apply to bankroll management. Standard recommendations are 15-40, say 20 table buy-ins for full table no limit; ie. $10NLHE requires $200, and much the same for SnGs; playing $10 requires $200, with more required if you multitable or if you play bigger tournaments where you will cash less often. Bankroll management is important because poker is all about variance. You have to be willing to go broke at the table in order to get value for the times that you get all your money in but don’t get sucked out on, and this means that you have to have more money still available to work with.

And of course this is mitigated to some extent by other factors, like bankroll available at other sites, familiarity with the site/game/level (ie. if you’ve withdrawn some funds but keep playing at the same level), or additional invisible bankroll (ie. you have a set budget of $25/month that you can afford to deposit out of your personal entertainment budget), but you have to be careful with these. It’s all too easy to use these as escapes that will allow you to lose it all, and more.

But I’m a cheap, arrogant, cautious bastard. For me the consideration of frustration/high rakes at low, low levels combined with trading off risk with enough value to make me happy with the reward leads me to play underrolled at ring games. On the other hand, I like playing weak players at low SnGs so I tend to play overrolled for these. And I don’t have the time or patience to play many larger tournaments very often.

In the article that I just read the author refers to a player complaining about losing 3 buy-ins, a second player says if you can’t stand losing a few buy-ins you should drop down if you’re underrolled, to which the first player responds that he has more than 100 buy-ins. If you’re overrolled, then you’re not getting enough ROI on your bankroll. If that’s okay with you, then fine. Losing 3 buy-ins would be upsetting to me too, and given that I currently play much closer to the edge with my ring games than this guy does I may drop down, but then again, maybe not. Too much arrogance/bankroll at other sites/impatience with the play and rewards at lower levels.

After all that, maybe I’m saying that my emotional bankroll is larger than reality for ring games, and smaller for SnGs. On the other hand, I probably am bothered more by 3, 2, even 1 buy-in loses more than I should ie. it affects my game more than I think it should, so I don’t know where that leaves me.


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