Business plan of an online poker player05:41

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Published on January 31, 2015

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.

Bankroll management and planning to move up

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 management.

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 stakes.

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 to plan a poker schedule

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.

Rakeback and additional bonuses

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 stakes!

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 weeks.

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.

Plan B: What if

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 winrate!


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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