Spin it Up!
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
How NOT to practice bankroll management by Matt Perry.
With money tight these days – global recession and all that – as well as the future of online poker being somewhat under the sword of Damocles – Black Friday and all that – it has never been more important than it is now to make as much money as quickly as possible. That’s right, you might lose your job tomorrow and online poker might implode the day after, so it’s absolutely vital that we get as much as we can out of this, while we can.With that in mind, I resolved to try out the fabled bankroll management techniques of two poker legends – one from the realm of online poker and another who frequents the live cash games. Viktor “Isildur1” Blom took the poker world by storm when he won $6m on Full Tilt Poker in the period of about four weeks. “But he lost it all!” I hear you cry. Don’t worry, when I hit $4m I’ll cash out. I’m not stupid!
My second style is that of Jean-Robert Bellande, famed for being very careful with his bankroll. So careful, in fact, that’s it’s all on the felt in front of him at all times. Until it gets shipped to his opponent.
Viktor “Isildur1” Blom style
Starting bankroll: $100
Game: Heads-up No Limit Hold ‘em/Pot Limit Omaha
Bankroll management: Beat regulars, move up. Repeat ad infinitum.
The first of my attempted spin-ups is also the most intense, so I wanted to get it out of the way. The iPoker network offers microstakes heads-up cash games so I chose that as my venue – fitting, given than Isildur1 built up his bankroll on the same network. With $200 in my account I did what Isildur1 would do and loaded up all the heads-up tables I could.
My first opponents were three players waiting at heads-up tables (two NL20 and one NL50 game). I played each of the NL20 players on two tables and the odd table was at the higher stake, leaving me a total of $10 for reloading. Within minutes I was forced to uncheck the auto-rebuy option as my stacks dwindled to take my total bankroll to less than $90, all on the tables.
Playing five tables of heads-up deals you approximately 1,200 hands per hour; these are not hands that you can fold four out of five times, either. You are playing all of them, which means that on average you are being dealt a new hand every three seconds while trying to play four others at the same time. In that first session, I played 344 hands before I had to stop. My timebanks were gone on every table and I was having to click “I am back” every few seconds as I timed out on one or two tables while trying to bluff on another and value bet on the final match.
After 12 minutes, my $100 was reduced to $83. Realising that this would be a very short piece if I continued playing that many tables, I fired up just two – one NL50 and one NL20 to put over 80% of my bankroll in play. Let me tell you, 400 hands an hour is a hell of a lot easier than four figures. I didn’t have much luck against a decent-but-overly-nitty opponent at the NL50 game, losing about $8 over a few hundred hands, but the NL20 player turned out to be a bad, aggressive player with a couple of nice timing tells. Against him, I won over $70, putting my bankroll at $144.
Isildur1 is known for his marathon sessions so I felt compelled to continue despite the time moving ever-forward and my eyes growing heavy. Coffee made, I loaded up two PLO50 tables and hoped to see the upside of this Omaha variance I’d heard so much about. Much like the real Viktor Blom, I’m not so accomplished at Pot Limit Omaha. I resolved to counter this by being super-aggressive with a wide range pre-flop and then bluff whenever I thought the board looked scary. You’re never more than a 48% underdog in Omaha anyway.
This, surprisingly, worked. After a while of me 3-betting constantly and double barrelling, my opponent began to play back and I was forced to put money in and fold. This lead me to having less than $50 on each table, my entire bankroll.
However, that variance I talked about struck back and I picked up the nuts enough – and got him to call me thinly enough – that I had won $322 before he quit me. My bankroll was up to $500 and it was 3am. Bed was calling, but…
Ten minutes later I was in the midst of an aggressive NL200 game across three tables with every hand getting 4-bet and T-9s all in pre-flop becoming a value hand. That’s how it seemed at the time, anyway. I wound up winning for a short while but he quickly showed me what for and my bluffs stopped working; my value bets got fewer calls and my hero calls ran into slightly better hands. In short, I was owned.
He quit me having won $438 of my $521, so I put it all on a PLO100 table. Three hands later my account balance was $0.00. On the flip side, micro- and small-stakes heads-up games are raked outrageously, so I had accumulated enough money in rakeback to buy in to the SuperStar Showdown.
Jean-Robert Bellande style
Starting bankroll: $100
Game: All of them.
Bankroll management: Put it all on the table and hope for the best.
Is there any more entertaining Twitter feed in the poker world than @BrokeLivingJRB? The mixed cash game player constantly acquires a stake from $500 to $2,000, runs it up playing at the Aria and then sits with all of it in the big game against the best in the world, playing 8-Game and beyond, before inevitably losing an entire-bankroll pot. Then he does it again. And again. And again. Throughout this, the man parties it up in clubs with beautiful women and lives like a millionaire. Surely his style of spinning it up will be the most successful?
For this challenge I played on PokerStars, since they offer the greatest variety of games at all stakes. Deposit made, I put my $100 down on a $2/$4 8-Game mix table. I posted my ante and I was dealt a hand of Stud. Then it hit me – I’ve never played any of these games before. I might suck. Oh well, I thought, raising with [Kh-Qs]Ts (that has to be a good hand), in for a penny… or in for $100 in this case.
Surprisingly, I managed to chip up some in Stud. The lack of conventional position was weird getting used to but people played their boards obviously and it was easy to fold or value bet or bluff depending on what cards everyone was showing. I was aggressive enough at Limit Hold'em to get some chips – and make some hero calls – as well as being sensible enough to not bluff myself; people don’t usually fold to a minimum bet getting gazillions to one.
In the next game, I was getting broadways and pairs every hand, which usually I’d enjoy except it was Razz. However, my bankroll had swelled to $189 and the next night I had arranged to go to the pub. Millionaire’s social life, check; bankroll on the table playing all kinds of crazy games, check. This way works way better than Isildur1 style, I thought, making the nut low and trips in Omaha 8 and shooting my bankroll over $200. What would JRB do?
He’d put it all on the table again! Leaving the losers at those small stakes, I bought in at a $5/$10 HORSE table with my twenty big bets. This was the baller life that JRB and I both deserved. High stakes, hot women, drinks and the baller lifestyle. Of course, I was still in my bedroom drinking red Relentless with a tiny bankroll and mere plans to go to Wetherspoons, but it was a start.
Turns out that you can lose quite a lot of money playing Limit games. I ran a full house into quads playing Stud and then got all but $30 of my bankroll into the middle in a sick hand of Omaha 8 – I had the nut flush draw, the nut low draw and a pair with A-A-2-4 on 3-6-8-J, but my opponent’s T-9-8-8 prevailed as a six on the river denied me the low and shipped him the pot. Hmmm… what would JRB do? I don’t have a mysterious entity – or generous friend – to repeatedly stake me. Then I saw that JRB had entered the WPT Grand Prix de Paris with his entire bankroll. Well, then…
My last $27 was reduced to $5 when I entered the PokerStars Big $22. Long story short, I finished outside of the money then lost the last $5 on a PLO5 table. I was busto, though it had taken longer than in Isildur1 style.
The moral of the story? It may sound prosaic, but getting rich slowly and carefully is probably the key, even if you’re a some kind of international poker genius.