Once you have decided to try your luck and skill at online poker, bankroll size is the first decision you will have to face. Most beginners tend to set their bankroll on a random number that they feel comfortable with. This is of course true, you should never gamble on a sum that you wont feel comfortable losing, but there are many other variables that should be considered as well. Your bankroll is connected, first and foremost, to the game type and limits you are planning to play. Although this is not a strict rule, most experts agree that your bankroll should cover at least 200 big bets and some even go up to 400. Meaning that if you are playing a 2-4 limit game your bankroll should be at least 800 dollars. This bankroll should ensure that you will not lose your entire bankroll on one long streak of bad luck, or several large bad beats.
If you are new to poker or new to online poker and its unique pace, then you are most likely going to play the lower limit games. Most online poker rooms have tables ranging from microscopic sizes (15-30 cents!) to high-limit, heavy rollers tables (100-200). Most players tend to start from the 0.5-1 tables and after establishing confidence and profitable track record move to the higher limits. Hence, your initial bankroll should be at least 200 dollars. This guideline will help also help you when you are considering moving to higher limits. The first thing you should consider before embarking the 1-2 or 2-4 limits is "Do I have the bankroll to be competitive and last long enough to be profitable on the long run?" Remember that even if you will end up profitable in several sessions, this can all change with one bad run.
Another important skill that most novice players lack is when to stop playing. Quitting for the day is something that most poker players, even the seasoned and experienced, struggle with. In general, it is advised to quit after any long run (30 to 40 hands can be considered as a long run without any doubt). Quitting after a run of consecutive wins or loses will help you avoid tilts. The minute that you feel that lady luck is being unusually cruel to you and you notice that it affects your game strategy and betting – quit instantly. Same goes for winning more than it might seem reasonable. Most players experience a very destructive tilt after winning many pots consecutively. They begin loosing up their play and trust their "good" luck. Instead of keeping to the original strategy that brought them this far. Be smart and stop playing when you feel that your game is being affected by factors other than game technicalities or opponent's analysis.
Kim Buchkoe, Editorial Staff
December 15, 2005