It is very important in poker to have the right bankroll for the limit at which you want to play. A bankroll is typically the total amount of money you have set aside to play poker with, and allows you to survive a potential run of cold cards, while also giving you the flexibility to move up in limits quickly when you are running well. Additionally, playing at the proper limit in relation to your bankroll will keep you from playing with "scared money" or sitting down at a big game with a small amount of money. Remember, online poker is a game of taking calculated risks; if you are hesitant to make the proper play because you are afraid of losing your whole bankroll in one session then you will ultimately hurt your long-term profit.

This leads to the question, how do you determine what is the size of a proper bankroll? The amount you need is determined by the type and limit of the game you are playing. If you are primarily a Limit player, then you would ideally want a minimum bankroll of 200 times the big bet amount for that game. For instance, if you normally play in a $1/$2 Limit game, then you would want to have a minimum bankroll of roughly $400 or 200 times the big bet amount. If, however, you are playing in a No Limit or Pot Limit game, then you would typically want a bankroll of at least 20 times the minimum buy-in. For instance, if you normally play in a $1/$2 No Limit game, then you would want to have a minimum bankroll of at least $800 (because the minimum buy-in for the game is $40). It is very important to note that these are minimum bankroll recommendations, and that to ensure long-term success you may want to consider having a bigger bankroll of roughly double the minimum requirements set out here.

Note that your bankroll is not the same as the buy-in that is required to sit down for one session at a particular table. You can sit at any game if you have enough for the minimum buy-in and there is nothing wrong with this approach. For instance, if you want to play in a $2/$4 No-Limit game that has a minimum buy-in of $80, which also happens to be the amount of money in your account, then by all means go ahead. Simply understand that it's impossible to win every time you sit down at the poker table and as such, you may ultimately lose that buy-in that represented all your money. This is not a problem as you can simply re-deposit into your account. However, if that $80 is the only money available to you, then it is definitely not a good idea to sit down in a game where you can bust out in one session. The correct thinking in this situation would be to treat this $80 as your bankroll, and therefore you should be playing in a much smaller game, such as a $0.10/$0.25 game.

To fully understand the reason for having an appropriately sized bankroll, a player must first understand the concept of "variance". Variance is a measure of the money that naturally flows to and from a player over a period of time. Normal game conditions dictate that you will have both wins and losses, good cards and bad, and as such, money will move in and out of your stack. Depending on the type of player you are and the type of table you’re playing at, you may have a slightly higher or lower variance from session to session. If for instance you are sitting at a table where almost every round of betting is capped and the majority of the players are seeing almost every flop, then you will have big wins and big losses due to the amount of bets required to enter a pot. This in turn will lead you to have a high variance as your swings will be bigger with larger amounts of money flowing in and out of your stack. If, however, you are playing at a table where few players are seeing the flop and are rarely betting or raising aggressively, then both your wins and losses will be much smaller and so will your variance. Remember that when you see your stack fluctuating, this does not mean you are winning or losing as your win rate is a completely separate matter altogether. This is simply the normal variance in the game you are playing.


Evaluate the Game

When trying to decide what table to play at, you should first evaluate the game. Some games are tougher than others - even though the limits may be the same. So, what type of game should you be looking for?

Poker is ultimately a skill game, and that means skilled players will always win against unskilled players over time. Therefore, the best way to increase your chances at beating the game is to ensure that you are playing against less skilled players.

Imagine sitting down at a table full of professional players. There is no possible way that you could win over the long run if you’re not a professional player yourself. Even if you were a professional player, the best you could hope to do against a table full of other professionals is to break even over time.

That's why it's important to make sure that the table you choose to play at has at least two or three players that are slightly less skilled than yourself. That slight edge will provide you with enough of an opportunity to turn a profit.

Game Tabs: Game List: The game selection list is located at the top of the Lobby. The card game list controls which game type the lobby will display table listings for. For example, if you only want to play Texas Hold ‘em, then you should select the Texas Hold ‘em tab. From there you'll be given a list of every Hold ‘em table that is available.

Table Name: Each table has a unique name that allows you to reference any game quickly.

Game Type: The types of games displayed are referenced under this column. If you want to play Hold ‘em, for example, check to see that you are about to sit down at a Hold ‘em game - and not a Seven-Card Stud game!

Stakes: This information is critical and should be used in conjunction with your bankroll status. Stakes list the size of the small and large bet units for each table. If it is too large, chances are you'll be uncomfortable playing in it, so move down the Stakes column until you find a stakes level that matches your comfort zone. On the flip side, you should also consider whether the stakes limit is too small for your bankroll. If it's too small you may be tempted to play rather carelessly - and that can be damaging to your bankroll.

Limit: The Limit column describes the variation of the game being played and is critical to your success. If you are usually a $2/$4 Fixed Limit player and you mistakenly sit down in a $2/$4 No Limit game, then you could be in for a rude awakening. Make sure you are using this information to decide whether you want to be in a Fixed Limit, Pot Limit, or No Limit game.

Players (Plrys): The Players column lists the number of players currently sitting at the table, and the total number of seats at the table. For example, if you see a table that has the figure "9/10", that tells you there are currently nine players sitting at a table that has 10 seats. This number is much more important than it seems, as it gives you some insight into the type of game being played. If a table has five or fewer players at a 10-handed table, then you are in reality playing in a short-handed game, which requires different skills and tools than a game with six or more players. If you don't enjoy playing shorthanded, simply avoid playing at these tables or you'll find yourself at a serious disadvantage and you could end up losing a lot of money. Note: some tables have a maximum of six players instead of 10 and are classified as shorthanded. In that case, the Players column will list the table information for the total amounts of seats at the table and the number of players seated.

Average Pot: It is important to remember that each of these statistics only describes a function of the same game, and when combined they give you a much bigger picture of the game than any one statistic on its own could. "Average pot" is an average of the total pots for the last five hands. This figure is important when considering the type of table you want to play at. When you are looking at the average pot number for a table, compare it to other average pot figures for other tables with the same betting stakes. This will tell you whether the table is "loose" or "tight." If it has the lowest average pot of all the tables in its limit, then you can usually assume that it is a tight table, and one that you may want to avoid. If the average pot is larger than most of the other tables in the same limit, that typically means the table is a little loose. A loose table tells you that your opponents are playing too many hands, which gives you the advantage as you will be playing more premium hands. Important note: a table with a large average pot could also be a sign of a tight/aggressive table where the players are betting heavily when involved in the pot. This is why it's important to watch a table for an orbit of the button (usually 10 hands depending on the number of players) to make sure that you are seeing the true nature of the table. Remember, the average pot figure will change every five hands. If you watch a table for 10 hands you will get two average pot figures, giving you a much better understanding of the nature of the table.

Percentage of Players Seeing the Flop (Plrs/Flop): This is an extremely important figure when combined with the average pot column. It gives you an estimation of what type of action is happening at the table. Typically, if a full 10-handed table has more than 40 percent of the players seeing the flop, this can be characterized as a loose game. Note: this figure applies only to full 10-handed tables. If this were a full six-handed table it might be considered a tight table and one that should be avoided. Understanding this difference between 10-handed and six-handed games is important. If you encounter a game that has a flop percentage below 40 percent, it doesn't mean the game is unplayable, as it only takes two to three less skilled players for the game to be profitable. This is when you may want to observe a table first and watch the play to get a quick feel for what the players are like.Players Seated: Another helpful piece of information when deciding whether or not to sit down at a table can be found in the Players Seated window within the Lobby. Simply click on the white arrow to the left of a specific table to open it.


Tight/Loose & Passive/Aggressive

When trying to quantify a game and its players, it is useful to think about both the frequency and strength of their actions. The standard descriptors used for this purpose are "tight" or "loose", and "passive" or "aggressive." These terms provide a framework in which any game or player can be described, which will in turn provide you with an insight into the nature of the table or of a specific player. Use these parameters along with all the information available in the software when evaluating the game to determine the best possible return on your investment. Note that these descriptions can be used to describe both players and games.

Tight or loose describes how many hands a player will typically play and how they will in turn continue to play throughout the rest of the hand. A tight player will tend to play fewer hands than average and will generally be very conservative in their choices and decisions. A loose player will tend to play more hands than average and be very liberal in their choices and decisions.

Passive or aggressive describes the nature of a player's actions when they are involved in a hand. A passive player does not tend to bet very often, preferring to check and call instead. An aggressive player usually chooses to bet and raise instead of checking or calling and prefers to take the lead in most situations.



Ideally, the most profitable games and types of players to play against are those that are described as loose/passive. The reasons for this are simple. Loose players tend to play too many hands and many of the hands that they play are not quality hands. As such, most of the time that a good player is in the pot with a loose player, the good player invariably has the best hand. Loose players will also call too many bets and raise with weak hands that do not figure to be winners. Although on occasion they may get lucky and make their hands, often they will call bets when they are behind and show down a losing hand. Furthermore, loose/passive players will not raise enough when they do have a good hand and as such they allow better players to play straight or flush draws for cheap, which is a critical mistake. In summary, loose/passive players play too many poor hands and go too far with them. When they do have good hands, they do not play them hard enough and allow players to get the proper odds to make their draws. In essence, loose/passive players are the perfect and most profitable opponent!



These games can also be very profitable to a good player but they do come with a significantly increased risk factor. Although loose/aggressive players are playing too many hands and calling too many bets when they shouldn't, they are also betting and raising frequently. This is a major and crucial difference between loose/passive and loose/aggressive players. As loose/passive players do not bet and raise enough, it allows good players to play draws and see showdowns for cheap, instead of getting pushed out of hands or not getting the proper odds to make their draws. If, however, a player is raising and betting constantly, it then becomes much more difficult for a good player to get odds to make draws or see showdowns cheaply. Now the cost of each hand is greatly increased and will often result in the better player having to fold more hands and tighten up as the action is simply too intense to risk playing speculative hands. These games can be very profitable as players are still making many of the same mistakes but the price to play is vastly increased. Some players are not comfortable playing in reckless and aggressive games. If this describes you, simply avoid the game. Additionally, a player will need a robust bankroll to play in a loose/aggressive game as the normal swings and variation will be much larger than in most other games.



The predictability of these games can make them profitable. For instance, whenever a tight player enters a hand, you can be assured that they typically have a strong starting hand as they do not tend to play weak hands. It then makes it very easy to get out of their way when they do play and you do not have a premium hand yourself. Additionally, a tight/passive player does not tend to bet or raise strongly enough when they do have a good hand. This will allow you to play draws profitably against them. The downside to playing with tight/passive players, versus playing with loose players, is that they play fewer and better quality hands. As such, they are much more apt to fold if they do not hit their hand, unlike a loose player who will not fold often enough. A tight/passive player or game will not be as profitable as a loose/passive player or game and should not be your first choice.



Tight/aggressive games should be avoided on almost every occasion as the combination of both tight and aggressive is the style best suited to the game of poker. If you find yourself at a table where players play only premium hands and bet and raise extremely aggressively then you are at a table of strong players who are playing extremely well and you should get up and move. There is almost no remedy for winning at this type of game other than playing extremely tight/aggressive yourself and hoping that your cards hit. In short, this is the type of player you should try to become but always avoid playing against.

It is important to characterize both players and games in this way, as it will give you a very good idea of what the action is going to be like and what you can expect as a general result from playing. There may be a time and place where you play in every one of these games with every one of these players, but as a rule you should always seek out a game in which you have the largest edge possible, while at the same time being comfortable with the pace and intensity of the action.

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