Avoid the Wrong Mindset When Building a Bankroll

I’ve shared a bit of background on my own poker bankroll growth in a previous post here on Bankroll Management.org, but I thought today I’d highlight a couple big mistakes in my thought process when I was just getting started. I feel that these mistakes are common and that this discussion can benefit a lot of players.

Being Results Oriented

The most significant problem with my thinking had to do with being results oriented, one of the worst things you can do when you’re building a bankroll.

And I’m not talking about letting bad beats in big hands affect your future decisions, as in asking whether you should muck your AA because you “always” lose to a random two-pair.

Instead, I’m referring to a different type of results oriented thinking. Most poker beginners are too focused on the money in their roll at that particular instant, forgetting that any game in the casino is about long term expectation. When I was having a losing session, I would invariably click on the cashier tab to see how bad I was doing and start worrying if I had lost a significant portion. I would begin to calculate in my head how much better I would have to do in order to make my first deposit bonus worth it, and I would even worry that I might bust before I had cleared it.

This is dangerous for several reasons.  It distracts you from the play at your table(s) and makes you become emotionally invested in the results, which will make your play deteriorate even further. Players who try to make back their losses in quick fashion are prone to over gambling and tilting. And even more importantly, we set bankroll guidelines so we don’t have to worry about this exact type of thing! If you know that you have 20x the buy-in of your current No Limit level, then you shouldn’t have to worry at all about your roll, as long as you stay disciplined and recognize when you need to temporarily move down. But this decision is made over the course of days and weeks, not an hour’s worth of hands.

What’s funny is that this results oriented mindset hurt me even when I was winning. I remember one time when sat down to play a session of No Limit poker. I hit a great run of cards, and after about 50 hands I was up a decent amount. I looked at the cashier, saw I had passed over a nice round number, and left my tables, making my win official. While this might be good from a psychological standpoint, the bottom line was I had selected good tables full of weak opponents, and I stopped playing. While I wasn’t guaranteed to keep profiting, it was a good situation for me to be in, so I should have kept grinding it out for longer. Looking at the cashier can only cause problems and should be avoided, as long as you are following our bankroll management guidelines. Try not to let this be a distraction for you.

In my next post I’ll tell the story of how I earned a big spike in my earnings graph and set the stage for a profitable long-term poker experience.


  1. Good article, i used to check my cashier for balances for every minute or so and no matter of o was winning or losing it really hurt my game.

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