Beginner’s Rules Part II

Bankroll management is the most important skill for new players. Learning not to risk more than you can afford to lose is a lesson that has to be learned early in a player’s career – or else your career won’t be a long one.

A few months ago I wrote about some considerations for beginning poker players, such as deciding on which site to play on, avoiding free sites and ignoring sign-up bonuses. Part 2 of my Beginner’s Guide to Poker contains some more useful, at least I hope so, information for players who are thinking about trying their hand at online poker.

Managing your Bankroll

Managing your bankroll is THE MOST important consideration for new players. Don’t put down $100 on a poker site and expect to turn it into $10,000 in three weeks. It’s not going to happen. Similarly, don’t panic when you lose it in three weeks. When I began playing online poker in the early 2000s, I probably deposited $100 six or seven times on various poker sites before I finally got my first big score and payout.

You need to consider poker a hobby, like golf. A round of golf on the weekend probably costs anywhere from $50 or more, depending on the caliber of course you play and how many beers you drink in the clubhouse afterwards. Skip one round a month and use that as your poker money. If you go out to eat lunch with co-workers 2-3 times a week, consider brown-bagging it four days a week, and then use the $15-20 you are saving as your poker fund.

Settle on an amount that you are comfortable spending each month, and then deposit that amount into a poker account – no more. Setting strict bankroll guidelines and then adhering to them is crucial to allow yourself time to develop as a poker player. You are more than likely going to lose your first few deposits, but as long as you are not losing more than you can afford to lose, it’s okay.

You also need to set limits on what stakes you will play. A good rule of thumb for cash players is to have at least 20 buy-ins (some players prefer as many as 40-50). That means if you are going to play .05/.10NL and the minimum buy-in for the table is $4, then you would ideally have $80 in your account. I generally use the same principle for sit-n-goes. I want at least 20 buy-ins, so if I have $60 in my account, I would limit myself to sit-n-goes of $3 or less. For multi-table tournaments, I try to restrict myself to 5% of my bankroll, so if I have $100 in my account, I would look for tournaments that are $5 or less.

You also need to understand that the higher up in entry fees you go, the stiffer the competition. Play the lower limits until you are consistently turning a profit, then you can think about moving up to a higher limit.

Join the League!

The League is a great way to hone your skills against some top-notch competition. The way it works is simple. Players are drafted on to teams. Each team has five players. Each player plays on one night (league game are held every day Monday-Friday). You receive points for your team based on how you finish in the nightly league event. For example, first-place is worth 60 points, second-place is worth 48, third-place worth 38 and on down the line.

The league is open to active forum members with a minimum number of posts. It is free, and you get to compete for great prizes! I’ve been playing on-line poker for more than a decade, and the CC League is by far the toughest competition I’ve encountered. I feel like my play has improved tremendously since I first started playing in the league in winter 2015.

There are four league seasons each year – fall, winter, spring and summer. Seasons run either 9 or 10 weeks, and there is usually a 3-4 week break in between each season. The next league starts April 11, and the sign-up deadline is April 6. If you can’t get signed up for the spring season, the summer season will start in July, which gives you plenty of time for you to get active on the forums and make yourself eligible to play.

Positions Aren’t Just for Sex

One of the biggest lessons for new players to learn is the importance of position. It took me awhile to figure out that K-9 is not a good hand to play unless you are near the end of the initial round of betting and nobody has raised. If you are on the button or in the hi-jack position and it folds to you, then K-9 is a pretty strong hand to open with. But if you are under the gun (i.e. to the right of the big blind), K-9 is not very strong at all. On a full ring (9 players) eight more players will have an opportunity to re-raise you preflop, and you probably don’t want to be calling a re-raise with K-9.

I wasted way too many chips limping or raising with cards like that early in the betting only to see someone push me out of the hand with a big raise later in the round.

Watch Out for the Short Stacks

Watch the seats with the little stacks. They get desperate and will go all-in at the drop of a hat. If you’re not willing to risk how many chips the short stack person has, you should probably not play that hand. Conversely, if you are in a late position and have good cards and the short stack has one of the blinds, sometimes you can limp into him and hope he will mistake that for a sign of weakness and push all-in. Then you are in a good position to go all-in, chase away the rest and get a good payday for yourself.

Pick one game: There are a lot of different games but the main ones are No Limit Hold ‘Em, Omaha and Stud. Pick one of these and become an expert at it. Don’t try to be a generalist.

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