Chris Ferguson's Bankroll Management

tosborn

tosborn

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I read this and thought that I would share it here. Chris is a little more conservative than what I have read here.

Chris Ferguson

April 27th, 2007

I'm almost a year into an experiment on full tilt poker. I'm attempting to turn $0 into a $10,000 bankroll. With no money to start with, I had no choice but to start out playing freerolls. Starting out, I'd often manage to win a dollar or two, but I'd quickly get busted and have to start over again. It took some time but, after awhile, I was eventually able to graduate to games that required an actual buy-in.
Even today, people don't believe it's really me when I sit down at Full Tilt's small stakes games. They ask what I'm doing down here, and often tell me stories about how they turned $5 into $500 or $100 into $1,000. Usually, these stories end with the person telling me that they went broke. There's no surprise there. These folks tried to quickly build a bankroll by gambling. They'd play in a game that was beyond their bankroll and, if they happened to win, they'd move up to a higher limit and risk it all one more time. Inevitably, they'd lose a few big hands and go broke.

For me, this experiment isn't about the money. It's about showing how, with proper bankroll management, you can start from nothing and move up to the point where you're playing in some pretty big games. I know it's possible because I did it once before, turning $1 into $20,000.
To ensure that I keep my bankroll intact, I've adopted some key rules:

  • I'll never buy into a cash game or a Sit & Go with more than 5 percent of my total bankroll (there is an exception for the lowest limits: I'm allowed to buy into any game with a buy-in of $2.50 or less).
  • I won't buy into a multi-table tournament for more than 2 percent of my total bankroll and I'm allowed to buy into any multi-table tournament that costs $1.
  • If at any time during a No-Limit or Pot-Limit cash-game session the money on the table represents more than 10 percent of my total bankroll, I must leave the game when the blinds reach me.
I think a lot of players would do well to apply these rules. One great benefit from this approach to bankroll management is that it ensures you'll be playing in games you can afford. You'll never play for very long in a game that's over your head because, when you're losing, you'll have no choice but to drop down to a smaller game. You can continue to sharpen your game at that lower limit until your bankroll allows you to move up and take another shot. These rules also prevent you from being completely decimated by a bad run of cards.

Dropping down and playing lower limits is difficult for a lot of players. They view it as a failure and their egos get in the way. Many want to remain at the level they'd been playing and win back their losses. But this can lead to some pretty severe tilt - and that can go through a bankroll in a hurry. I know that dropping down was difficult for me in my run from $1 to $20,000. When I first played in the $25/$50 game, I lost. Sticking to my rules, I dropped down to the $10/$25 game. I had a losing streak there and had to go down to $5/$10. That was tough. After playing $25/$50, a $5/$10 game was boring to me.

But I had the discipline to stick to my rules, and that motivated me to play better at the lower levels. I really didn't want to lose any more because I knew the consequences: I'd have to play even lower and work even harder to get back to where I'd been, which could take as long as a month. If you ever find yourself bored or frustrated playing at the lower limits, you're obviously not playing well. Take a break from the game. Often, stepping away can give you a fresh perspective and heightened motivation to play well when you return.

There are a couple of more tips I'd like to share regarding bankroll management. First, you should never play in a game that is beyond your bankroll simply because the game seems to be soft that day. It's never soft enough to risk money that puts your bankroll in jeopardy. The other point is that you should avoid playing in games that are at the top of your bankroll limits, when a lower game offers more opportunity for profit.
I'm confident that by sticking to these sound bankroll management rules, I'll make it to my $10,000 goal. These rules are sure to help you as well, as you pursue your own poker ambitions. So, if you want to start your own quest - or play against me while I'm continuing with mine - come open a free account at Full Tilt Poker and look for me online. But hurry, because I'm hoping I won't be in the lower limits for too much longer.


By Chris Ferguson
 
Jack Daniels

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Chris is a little more conservative than what I have read here.
Great article, but I would disagree with this statement above. I think what he wrote is largely the exact bankroll strategy that we push here or bankroll security. Yes we have the reckless types, inexperienced BR mgmt sorts, and all, but of the truly serious players, the large majority follow these rules (in fact we have some that are even bigger nits). I think it is like anything else in poker, it's selective recall. Everyone remembers the guy that says deposit $20 and put it all on a $50NL table. That's an extreme and total lack of any BR mgmt whatsoever, so it sticks out.
 
dj11

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Perhaps I never noticed it before, or I am reading it wrong, but his 3rd bullet point may be misinterpreted to mean something different than what it reads.

-If at any time during a No-Limit or Pot-Limit cash-game session the money on the table represents more than 10 percent of my total bankroll, I must leave the game when the blinds reach me.

The money on the table to me means everyones stack. This suggest he is getting in with about 1% of his br if he can find such a table. And would in general be a lot smaller buy in than if it read - my money on the table represents more than 10 percent of my total bankroll.

It would be nice to follow his quest on a timelier scale than 3 month behind.
 
Jack Daniels

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Good clarification dj, he was stating the latter. It's not about how much money others have at the table, that would be nearly impossible to find a table to sit at because of big stacks, etc. He means the money that is in front of him...if it represents more than 10% of his bankroll, then he must leave.

As a clarification to my earlier statement, this last bullet point is not one that we tend to push here when discussing BR mgmt. We tend to leave it more open ended where people need to play or leave based on how they feel, commitments, personal stop loss/gain choices, etc. But for very strict BR mgmt and to minimize variance, this third bullet is perfectly reasonable. I don't feel it makes him more conservative, per se. It is just the threshold he chooses and is no differnet than a person that says "I'm playing one hour and stopping no matter what and will stop sooner if I lose two buy-ins".
 
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rauel1980

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bankroll

he was no fulltilt 3 days ago and he cleanes up on a razz table he has too leave the table when he reaches 10% of his bank roll! my brother and i figered it out to been about 5000$ bank roll that puts him about 15000 short of his 20000 makr he is shooting for!
 
Jack Daniels

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he was no fulltilt 3 days ago and he cleanes up on a razz table he has too leave the table when he reaches 10% of his bank roll! my brother and i figered it out to been about 5000$ bank roll that puts him about 15000 short of his 20000 makr he is shooting for!
OMG! Please try using some additional punctuation, appropriate capitalization, and limit the text enhancements (e.g. underlining everything) in future posts. We're not asking for perfection in grammar, spelling, and all, but at least put forth some effort. It will greatly help with readability. Simple streams of consciousness aren't going to get you too far. kthx.
 
jaymfc

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ya i didnt get all of that either jd but anyway , my investment will always be about 5% of br cause its so small and i took it that when you double up, get out soon after. if br was bigger and started with 2% then quit after it represented 10%, right .im gonna start trying to follow those rules but its hard with my br . whats 5% of $1.37 ? lol,jk.
 
Egon Towst

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Great thread.

Chris Ferguson is the master of this sort of thing and it`s sooo important.

Most newbies (and a lot of experienced players who should know better) don`t grasp that it`s not enough to learn to play a good game of poker. BR skills are just as important and, unless you master those too, you`re going nowhere in the game.
 
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njo1987

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very interesting, will try to apply these rules to my BR managment
 
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britisharmy1

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Yeah BR management is being applied on my next deposit, i was careless last night on pokerstars, i sat down on a .10/.25 NLHE table with $20 left in total BR, i struck lucky and myself and 4 others had an all-in party, i won with the full house, bumped my chips up to $62, then changed to .50/$1 NLHE i sat down on a table with 1 other player heads-up me sitting with full bankroll and him with $145 he had me covered twice, i played stupid on crappy hands like 1 pair, 2 pair, and 3 of a kind (with both draws on the board) and always came out loosing, only money i won was when he folded crap hands on the small blind, i accedentally went on full on tilt and all-inned on 2 pairs of 7s and 9s he beat me with 7s and 10s :( proper gutted, i guess my eyes got bigger than my stomach, i should have stuck to .1/.2 or .2/.5 until i reached a sufficient BR.
 
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BulldogHOF

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I have learned a lot from Chris Ferguson regarding BRM (bankroll management) and it's importance. I know firmly believe that BRM is actually more important in a player's success than strictly poker PLAYING knowledge is. Yes, it is part of knowledge - but i am comparing skill in terms of poker playing and skill as in BRM.
 
diamond_06_06

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Hi all, i have been lurking around these parts for a bout a month or so and have gotten alot of really good and usefull information here. So a Big thanks to all.

I figured that now is about a good a time as ever to become an active participating member.

I have a quick question about BR management while multi-tabling. I have only just begun playing 2 tables at a time so am really asking for the future when I learn to play more tables at once. My question is if I wish to use proper BR management and I am playing more than one table do i spread that 5% over all the tables or is it OK to sit with 5% at each table?
 
vanquish

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I believe the last discussion we had about this concluded that you can allot 5% for each table.
 
KMC1828

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i've been having trouble on the 2.25 SnG's, mainly because people play like idiots. What would a better solution than playing the 2.25 SnGs? I've been trying the 90 man $1 SnG's on FT, maybe i should check out the rings. i doubt moving up to the 5.50 sng's would be "allowed" would it?
 
Jack Daniels

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Well, if you're going with the 5% rule for SNGs, then your BR would need to be $110 to support $5.50 single table SNGs. Now if your BR is $110, then you could also support up to the $2.25 MTTs as well as $5NL ring.
 
belladonna05

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When people discuss their favorite players, I rarely see Chris in the majority. Ive learned more reading from him then all the flashy ones put together lol. Dont forget he had the majority hand in designing and starting up full tilt also.
 
jaymfc

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thats because he is a long haired hippy , and probly smokes weed . he is smart though and one of my favorites lol . question for everyone , when should br management start ? if i put 20 bucks in its pretty hard to do. i think br managment is for people with min. of 100. i mean i try to get as much value as i can from my 20 but cant do 5% thing. anyone agree?
 
pezjb

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thats because he is a long haired hippy , and probly smokes weed . he is smart though and one of my favorites lol . question for everyone , when should br management start ? if i put 20 bucks in its pretty hard to do. i think br managment is for people with min. of 100. i mean i try to get as much value as i can from my 20 but cant do 5% thing. anyone agree?

I don't think Chris smokes herb one thing. Plus, BRM is very easily done with $20, but you may have to go slighty over the 5% mark (and 10% mark lol). I started with $20 a week or two ago and sat at $2.25 SNG, placed 1st in a bunch.. got my bankroll to $40 and then never looked back. Looking at about $250 right now.
 
belladonna05

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thats because he is a long haired hippy , and probly smokes weed . he is smart though and one of my favorites lol . question for everyone , when should br management start ? if i put 20 bucks in its pretty hard to do. i think br managment is for people with min. of 100. i mean i try to get as much value as i can from my 20 but cant do 5% thing. anyone agree?
He spent 5 years as an undergrad and 13 as a graduate student at UCLA and has a PHD in computer science. I guess it might be a stretch to call him smart, heh. :rolleyes:
 
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dvnguyen

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wow, he seems like me with the exception that i don't have a big bankroll.
 
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mikeormel

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Great Post! Some of the words could have been describing me lol. I agree to stick to playing to your bankroll. I didnt and it cost me alot a $
Mike
 
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fishfood

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God bless you for this post....I have been wracking my brain for what levels I should be playing at. I have a $500 br and am going to start even more conservative at the $5 sng's untill I consistently get itm 70% of the time and then move up.
 
OzExorcist

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Great article that one, it's actually the reason I signed up for online poker. Has anyone else put it into practice right from the start (ie: starting from $0)?

I decided to give it a bash, finally won $2 in a freeroll, then finished one place from the money in a $1.25 SnG. The whole process took a couple of months (I play maybe one or two nights a week), now I'm contemplating just making a deposit and applying the bankroll management strategy to that amount.
 
Bankroll Building - Bankroll Management
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