Business plan of an online poker player

How much money do you expect to make next
month? How many days do you have to play to
hit your profit target? When are you moving
up to higher stakes? Planning in poker is
simple. It will also make you a better, more
disciplined player and will certainly help
your poker bankroll.
Here’s how I am planning to rebuild my bankroll
this year, starting all the way down from
micro stakes.
Assuming I’ve done my homework and can beat
my stakes, I first need to lay down a plan
for my bankroll. Hence comes the bankroll
Starting off from $25 No Limit, my poker bankroll
must be around $1,000. That is 40 buy-ins.
They will buy me enough time at poker tables,
before I determine whether I can beat those
If my bankroll is doubled, I will move up
to $50 No Limit. If it’s halved, I will be
moving down or even quit playing and return
to studying and improving my game.
That is a pretty basic planning regarding
bankroll management.
How often should I play online poker, in order
to move up next month? That’s where the winrate
kicks in.
I am not the best poker player in the world,
so I can’t realistically expect a 20bb/100
winrate. Overestimating my poker skills would
hurt my confidence in a very short time, should
my performance is nowhere near my expectations.
Thus, I’ll go for a 5bb/100 winrate.
How many hands am I able to play per hour?
Having played more than a million hands by
now during my poker career, I already know
I can multitable up to 12 full-ring tables
or 8 6-max tables effectively. Anything more
and my winrate will suffer. That equals to
about 700 hands per hour. I will round it
to 2,000 hands per 3 hours of actual play,
given I’ll be doing some basic table selection.
Combined with my expected winrate, I am now
looking at one buy-in profit per 3 hours of
play. Moving up to the next level (50NL) requires
40 3-hour poker sessions, according to my
bankroll management.
See how everything bodes up together?
I will be playing 5 days a week, so it will
take me 8 weeks to move up.
Nowadays every popular poker room offers some
kind of rakeback, like PokerStars VIP program.
The more I play, the more rakeback I win.
However, my plan is not to become a Supernova
in a month, playing endless hours and burn
out! Going up the VIP ladder will come naturally
as I focus on my winrate’s target. I am not
looking to become a break-even player, living
off the rakeback at these easily beatable
Rakeback will improve my winrate significantly.
I’m expecting rakeback to make me 2bb/100
in the long run, given I’ll be converting
loyalty points to money at the most preferable
ratio. And that means, holding on my points
till I can redeem them for the maximum amount
of money.
Therefore, my expected winrate has now increased
due to rakeback to 7bb/100! In effect, rakeback
just shortened the time before I will be moving
up. I now need 27 working days, about 5.5
From time to time, poker rooms offer additional
initiatives to keep you playing. These out-of-the-blue
bonuses can add up to my long-term winrate
as well.
There’s a Greek saying about planning: “When
people are making plans, God is laughing”.
That’s variance in poker!
Having a slow start is the same as running
hot. The first couple of thousand hands won’t
tell me my actual winrate. The first hint
should be at around 30,000 hands. By that
time, variance will have balanced a bit. To
illustrate my point, here’s my Expected Value
(EV) graph from my first 9,000 hands. I had
5 losing days in a row, while my EV winrate
is 9bb/100! That’s 17bb/100 off my actual
On the other hand, I will be paying attention
only on the EV bb/100 winrate. That dictates
how I am doing. By the looks of it and considering
rakeback’s contribution, my expected winrate
is 11bb/100 at this time.
So, plan B: what if I can manage a 10bb/100
after 40,000 hands? At this rate, I will make
40 buy-ins in just 20 days, playing for 3
hours each! By March, I will have advanced
to $100 No Limit tables, where more skillful
players will eat up a portion of my winrate.
Still, planning not to move up from that level,
my expected poker income at 5bb/100 winrate
is about $100/day for 3 hours of play. And
that’s without rakeback!
My plan for April? Keeping a 40 buy-in bankroll
and withdrawing all monthly winnings by the
end of the each month.
Now, it’s your turn. What’s your poker plan
for 2015? Are you moving up stakes, adding
more tables to your multitabling schedule
or improving your winrate? Let me know in
the comments below.


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