Building a Poker Bankroll

The beginning of 2007 saw poker professional Chris Ferguson setting himself a challenge of earning $10,000 with no bankroll. It took him a few months to manage it, but in September of the same year he reached his goal.

While the money was promptly donated to the Save the Children foundation, the challenge left many poker players around the world questioning how they could maximize their bank roll to see similar value.

When looking through various online poker room ratings, make sure you pay attention to the various deposit bonuses that are on offer.

With several poker rooms offering hundreds of dollars free, it’s certainly possible for all new poker players to build a substantial amount of cash from a fairly average starting point.

To do this though, takes time and perseverance. Patience is also incredibly important, especially at the beginning when you’re playing for small stakes and any wins you make are only small amounts. One of the biggest mistakes that players make when attempting to grow their bankroll is that they try to rush things by moving on to bigger games too quickly. There, your bank roll can be hugely depleted by one small mistake or a bit of bad luck.

Instead, you need to choose your games carefully. Find a table where you can maximize your performance and play to your strengths. As a guide, I’d suggest avoiding buy-ins of over one dollar until your bankroll has grown to at least $50. Only then should you think of then making the step up to the $5 games.

Setting boundaries like this is a very good idea when it comes to building a bankroll. Once you have progressed from the $1 games, it’s important to keep an eye on your winnings. As a rough rule of thumb, you should probably keep playing at the same level until you have trebled or perhaps even quadrupled your original amount before moving up another level. That way, you minimize your risk a lot more and ensure that, when you do make the next step up, you’re playing with enough skill and confidence to maximize your earnings.

Of course, you will go through times when your bankroll shrinks slightly. During these periods, it’s just as important (if not more so!) to remember your boundaries. If your bankroll was to dip below the $50 mark in the example above, you need to accept that you will have to drop down a level until things start to go your way again.

What needs to be stressed at this point is that you should never use money that you can’t afford to lose when following a plan such as this. Learn to recognize and manage the risks involved by implementing a play or quit strategy whereby you stop playing when you start to go through a run of bad luck. It’s imperative that during these times you’re not tempted to increase your bets to try and win back money that you have lost.

Equally, when things are going your way set aside some of your winnings so that when you aren’t doing quite so well, you still have something positive to fall back on.

Playing Aces in No Limit Hold’em

Pocket aces are easily the sexiest and most alluring hand in poker, and although they are the best possible preflop hand they can often get you into a world of trouble if played incorrectly. The saying about Aces is that “you’ll win a small pot or lose a huge one”. This is dead on, and this article will explain why that is so, and how you can maximize your winnings when you’re ahead and minimize your losses when you’re behind.

Playing Aces Preflop

I like to play aces pretty straightforward before the flop. If no one has entered the pot before me, I’ll make a raise of 3-4x the big blind. This accomplishes two things. First of all, it shows other players that I have a strong hand and indicates that I’m going to be the aggressor in the hand. Also, it forces players with hands such as 67 suited to fold preflop. This is to your benefit, because suited connectors are the hands most likely to bust you in a big pot.

If a few players have limped in in front of me, I like to bump my raise up to 5x the big blind. The reason for the increase is because the pot already has a few callers in it, so if I only made a raise of 3x each caller would have correct pot odds to see a flop and potentially bust me.

If someone has entered the pot before me with a raise, this is a different situation. Since aces are the best possible preflop hand, it makes sense to re-raise here to isolate your opponent and start building the pot. A re-raise of 3-4x the raiser’s initial raise will do the trick. This should knock out other players with weak hands, and will force your opponent to commit more chips to the pot to see the flop.

One really unique situation is if there is a raise and a re-raise before you even act. In this case, you may want to smooth call the re-raiser to mask your hand’s strength and to tempt the first raiser into the hand. This will put you in a three way massive pot on the flop, and you’re very likely to end up getting all in while you’re still ahead.

Playing Aces on the Flop and Beyond

The flop is the trickiest part of the hand when you have aces, because you’ll either commit to going all the way with the hand, or realize that you’re beat. As long as the flop doesn’t look really really bad, you should lead out with a bet of roughly 2/3 the size of the pot. An example of a fairly safe flop is J42 offsuit. That is a great flop because it improves players who have hands like AJ, and it misses players with hands like 78 suited who are looking for big draws.

An example of a bad flop would be something like 810J, or K54 of the same suit. In the first example, hands like 10J or 88 have hit the flop hard and have a great chance of beating you in a huge pot. In the second example, if you don’t have the ace of the suit that is on the board you’re in a really tough spot, because if a fourth card of that suit peels off on the turn or river you’ll have a tough decision to make.

In the case of a bad flop like the ones listed above, I usually still lead out if there are only one or two opponents in the hand, but if they show any strength I become very cautious with my hand. If I feel like my opponent already has me beat, or has a really big draw, I’m not opposed to folding aces on the flop to a raise or a strong bet.

After you play the flop, the rest of the hand will pretty much play itself. If you pin your opponent on having a lower pair, just continue to value bet to extract maximum value out of them. If you think your opponent has a draw, continue to make them pay to draw, and if the draw hits on the turn or river release your hand. Follow the tips above, and you’ll have no problems with aces. Good luck!