A lot of time is spent discussing proper bankroll management. While this is an important fundamental everyone must conquer, players must also learn how to build their roll to move up in stakes. Between good play, cashing in on bonuses, promotions, and/or rakeback, and staying off tilt, building your bankroll through the micro limits should be a breeze.
Playing Your A Game
Plain and simple, if you want to move up in stakes and maximize your profits you must commit to always being on top of your game. This involves many factors including a playing schedule, proper mental mindset, and being able to recognize when you are slipping.
A schedule can help as you will get used to playing at a certain time. However, online poker is great due to its flexibility so a schedule may not be up everyone’s alley. Still, in order to build your bankroll you are going to have to grind. Players will have a hard time moving up if they never put in the time and effort at the tables. A good winrate is one buy-in every 1,000 hands! This means in order to go from 20 buy-ins at $25nl to 20 buy-ins at $50nl you will have to play 20,000 hands. If you are 4-tabling 6-max this will take you approximately 70 hours. This is where committing yourself to poker is oh so important. If you aren’t willing to put in the time and effort, you are better off taking on another hobby.
Having the right mindset when you sit down to play will be a big boost to your play. You should not be burdened by outside influences, the troubles of the day, or anything else which might distract you from playing the best you can. Turn off all media and focus yourself on the game. The better the play the faster you will move up! A lot of players will have the television on in the background or even have friends/family over at the time. If you are able to continue to play your best with these distractions, then go ahead. For most though, peace and quiet (perhaps some music) is the best formula and will allow you to make great decisions and play perfectly.
Being able to realize when your focus is waning is also quite important. It can be something as simple as being distracted by an outside noise or missing the action in a pot at one of your tables. Again, in order to move up as quickly as possible you must be willing to fully commit yourself to the game. A great aspect of online cash games is being able to sit out or quit the games completely when you feel this coming on. If you just need a moment or two to refocus then sit out at all of your tables and rejoin them once you have regained the proper mental mindset. If you just cannot seem to concentrate on your tables, then there is no shame in quitting and coming back the next day refreshed and ready to win.
Bonuses and Rakeback
One of the best ways to help supplement your bankroll is through deposit bonuses and rakeback. Most, if not every site has a deposit bonus which will typically double your deposit once you earned enough poker points to clear the bonus. For example, PokerStars and FullTilt both offer a 100% up to $600 initial deposit bonus which must be cleared over a certain period of time. These bonuses are released into your account in certain increments, such as $20 every time you earn X amount of player points. Bonuses are a great way to bolster your roll and can help to take some of the pain out of moving up in stakes. Before the online poker legislation hit it was much easier to move money around and take advantage of these bonuses. It has become much tougher these days, but it is still doable if you are committing to doing so. Make sure you use the proper bonus codes when registering an account and depositing funds as not all bonuses are created equal.
Rakeback is another perk offered by some poker sites which can be a huge help to building your bankroll. Broadway Tables offers 33% rakeback which is a little above the industry standard. For those unfamiliar with how this works, players pay rake/fees in each pot or tournament they participate in. Rakeback gives a certain percentage of those payments back to the players in monthly or weekly payments. Once you get to higher stakes you can really start seeing the benefits of rakeback. Event at $100NL Full Ring players might be paying $50 or more every 1,000 in rake. If you play 50,000 hands in a month that’s $2,500 in rake which with a 30% rakeback deal with leave you with an extra $750 at the tend of the month. For those without a calculator at home, that’s more than seven extra buy-ins which over a few months will certainly add up.
The fastest way to wipe out weeks of effort is to have a single session where you tilt a lot of money away. Tilting, or playing poorly due to being upset, is quite common in online poker and has busted many players both good and bad. It can be something as simple as a bad beat which might set someone off for a long period of time. The key here is to recognize when you are tilting and to step away from the tables. If you cannot control yourself in these situations you need to find another game to play. Remind yourself how hard you have worked and there is no reason to throw it all away due to a single bad beat.
Playing cash games online makes controlling tilt a breeze…just shut down your tables immediately when you feel tilt coming on! There is nothing wrong with instantly quitting as soon as you feel angry or upset with the game. Remember online poker will still be here tomorrow. There’s no reason to play today if you are not currently operating under the proper mindset.
If you are one of the few who can forgo tilting at the table, then you are way ahead of the game. Some are able to block out the bad beats and continue to play their A Game all the while running poorly. While you might feel you are still playing well, rest assured you are not! You will make weak tight plays unlike your normal game because your mind will be conditioned to feel you are going to lose every pot. This is one aspect of tilting no one ever talks about. It’s not just making you asuper aggressive player because you’re mad, it’s also losing momentum and playing scared/passive poker. It’s hard to win without an aggressive/optimistic style and tilting will cause most players to be afraid of every turn or the card causing them to miss value, fail to protect their hands, and not build bigger pots with stronger hands. Again, the best way to combat tilt is to just step away from the tables. This type of discipline is the sign of a poker player on their way to the top.
As long as you continue to play to the best of your abilities, take advantage of bonuses/rakeback, and commit to not allowing yourself to tilt, your bankroll will grow and you will be crushing midstakes games in no time.