What’s life like in your bubble?

Mine is one of stress, gratitude and happiness.

The stress element is one part I would like to remove from my life, but it’s not always that simple.

So what stresses me out?

One of the major things that creates stress for me out will no doubt also plague you.


They say it’s the root of evil.

I am not sure about that

But I do know it’s the root of all my bloody problems, and I guess it’s the same for you right?

Money is the fuel that keeps your poker vehicle chugging along. No doubt there are times that you feel out of your depth? That you are playing in games that are above your bankroll, or you are taking risks that are making your calves shake.

You are not alone.

Here are 9 little known factors that could affect your bankroll from some of the smartest people in the business.

1# The Other Half

In his piece of work The Symposium, Plato writes about love as it comes under the examination of a group of men attending a party. During his confab Aristophanes told a tale of how humans were born with four arms, four legs and a single head made of two faces.

One day after a particularly nasty row with the Gods they decided to cut us in two and scatter us all around the world. This means that humans would spend eternity trying to find your ‘other half’ so you could live happily ever after.

What Aristophanes didn’t mention was the fact that when you find them they spend all your money – something that Sam Razavi understands all too well.

“The one little known factor that has affected my bankroll in the past has been women.” Said Razavi.

 2# Travel Expenses

One of the major advantages of choosing the life of a professional poker player is you get the opportunity to travel to some of the most exotic, interesting and exciting places on earth.

Sound exciting?

Well you had better invest the time to qualify for the these major tournaments by playing in online feeder satellites, because as Manig Loeser and Madison Bergeron tell you…travel costs can eat into your bankroll.

“One of the areas where I lose money is booking last minute flights and not planning ahead and taking advantage of the flight reward programs. The costs of travel are always way more than you budget for.” Said Manig Loeser.

“The travel costs associated with the live poker scene can quickly add up. I refer to these as ‘hidden costs’ because they are separate from the actual buy-in costs. They can quickly add up meaning you have to have a pretty good ROI to even break even.” Said Madison Bergeron.

3# Exorbitant Purchases

Point one can bleed you dry, but that doesn’t mean people who are single are immune to bankroll management issues.

On the contrary.

Being young free and single can produce just as much temptation as, as the two-time World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Matt Perrins explains.

“I would say the one little known factor that affects your bankroll is buying a new car every three months. I have had a BMW M5, Porsche Cayman S, Audi R8, Lamborghini Gallardo, Mercedes C63 and a Nissan GTR…and each purchase has never been very good for the roll.”

4# Mindset

Poker is cut throat.

The players at the top of the game are so sharp you can get badly cut if you decide to play with them.

So being tip-top is absolutely crucial when squaring off on the cyber felt, and this is a problem that Ben Wilinofsky has faced on numerous occasions during his battles with his mental health.

“When I haven’t been well, and I’ve played instead of seeking help, I’ve had trouble focusing and trouble caring. That’s a recipe for disaster. I’ve had my biggest downswings in concert with failed and failing relationships that sent me spiraling downward.” Said Wilinofsky.

5# Swapping Pieces

Swapping pieces is the name given when two, or more, players agree to take percentages of each other’s action in the same tournament. This spreads the variance and means that even if you don’t earn any money you still have an opportunity to win something through the deal you have made with your partner.

Whilst this can be a good thing for your bankroll it can also be a bad thing as Dominik Nitsche explains.

“Being results oriented swapping pieces has definitely hurt me in the past. I don’t think that makes it a bad idea to swap pieces but it can be a pretty big bankroll leak if you are swapping with the wrong players.

“In general people should be much more careful about who they swap with. Swapping can be great, when done correctly, as it helps reduce variance in big tournaments.  However, I believe that a lot of people are using ‘reducing variance’ as an excuse to justify making bad swaps/have an interest in the tournament. Those swaps do hurt your EV and so I try to be careful and only swap with people I would also buy action of at markup.

“Reducing variance should only be a minor concern when swapping; the exception to that rule, however, is when you are deep in a big tournament.  With 30 players remaining in a major tournament it can make sense to swap with players weaker than you.”

6# Ego

Everyone has got one and if you don’t hold yours in check at the poker table it can produce leaks quicker than a Welsh farmer.

David Nicholson explains.

“Bankroll management is the easiest concept in the world – don’t spend more than you have got. And yet cockiness and ego clouds your judgment and makes bankroll management one of the most complicated concepts in the world.

“The difficulty comes with sticking to the rules. Your ego will chirp in and get the better of you when it comes to game selection decisions. It will tell you, ‘Well you don’t have the bankroll but you have been winning so take the risk.’

“Now risk taking is an important skill in poker, but reckless risk taking? That’s the ego talking and a sure fire way of going broke fast.”

7# Luck

The argument over whether poker is a game of luck or skill continues to motor on in some of the world’s most illustrious courts. Poker players will fight for their right to declare their art one of skill, and yet the role that luck plays, sometimes takes center stage for some people and it can affect your bankroll enormously.

Marvin Rettenmaier explains.

“When it came to my bankroll I got very lucky in the beginning of my career. I think I am very logical (analytical) and some things in poker just always made sense to me, but I was not anywhere close to the level of play I am at today. I don’t want to say that I was totally clueless but I definitely ran way above expectation.

“I remember that I deposited 50$ and I played a 5$ tournament. I was one tabling and I finished runner up with a field of like 700. I was so excited that I started a 10$ tournament which I also one tabled. It had like 300 players and I won. I then won a satellite into one of the major online tournaments and won it the first time I played it.

“I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t get lucky at the beginning.”

8# Bankroll Management Costs

Once you get into the swing of the poker thing hopefully your bankroll will grow into something quite substantial. At this point you may need your roll to be liquid, so you can transfer it between online sites, and to various live casinos around the world.

All of this movement of funds costs money and if you are not on the ball, these small incremental charges can soon eat into your bankroll like termites chowing down on wood.

WSOP bracelet holder Scott Shelley explains.

“Transferring money between payment processors can slowly eat into your profits. When it comes to the term ‘bankroll management’ the maxim ‘every little bit counts’ is an extremely important concept for a poker player. This is especially true when exchanging foreign currency and every effort should be made to exchange money with other poker players to avoid paying the juice.”

9# The Mark Up

One of the most important concepts to get your head around when actually trying to make this poker thing work is understanding how hard it actually is to make a profit.

So players have to bear this in mind when enthusiastically throwing their bankroll around buying pieces of other player’s action. Earlier, Dominik Nitsche explained how swapping action with weaker players can be detrimental to your bankroll, and now I am going to focus on the damage that paying over the odds for your action can cause you.

A lot of the times you need to try and keep the gamble inside of you and do no let it emerge. Once it does, ego takes over, and like Dave Nicholson explained earlier problems will arise once ego is let loose on the game of poker.

Having a vested interest in a tournament is one thing, but you need to ask why are they even selling in the first place? If they really have the edge that their high mark up is suggesting then why do they even need your money?

You need to set the standard of only buying pieces of good players in good games. Players who have proven themselves capable over a prolonged period of time.

It’s easy to forget how hard it is to make a profit in poker when things are going well for you. Hold onto that money and be wary of players trying to sell action at a high mark up.


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