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Useful stuff to know...

I thought I'd just make a quick note before talking about my July 2005 exploits.

If I could give any player new to online poker some advice, it would be the following:

First, bankroll management is extremely important. Whether you're a winning or losing player, it's important to know exactly how much you have left in your bankroll and how your bankroll is being affected by your play. Your bankroll defines the limits and action you can handle without hurting yourself financially. My advice is to take a chunk of money and place it into a Neteller or some other place where it is clearly separated from the rest of your money. Your bankroll should not be used for anything other than playing poker.

How big should your bankroll be? Well, to play limit poker, you should have between 300 and 500 BB (big bets). A big bet is equal to the larger of the two numbers used when describing a fixed limit (or any other limit) table. So, a 25c/50c table has a big bet of 50 cents. To play safely at this limit, you'd need a bankroll of $150 to $250. Any less than 300 BB and you may go broke simply by catching a bad string of cards. While it's true that skill helps in poker and is the difference between a winning and a losing poker player, poker is still gambling and you can still lose your entire bankroll by getting crap cards.

When playing no-limit poker, your bankroll must be higher than it is in limit. I've heard that 500 BB is safe. If you're playing short-handed poker, I'd also recommend at least 500 BB. And if you're playing heads-up poker, go with 1000 BB. Although these numbers seem quite high, remember that it takes time to become a half-decent player and there is no rush on getting your bankroll high enough to play in the higher limit games. The sad fact of the matter is that most people will never be good enough to play at the high limit games in the first place, so build your bankroll slowly and enjoy the ride. If you're only playing to make money, then you've probably chosen the wrong way to do it. If you want to make the big bucks, study hard in school and get a good job.

And when I said that your bankroll should not be used for anything other than poker, I wasn't kidding. If you're gambling with your rent money or your food money, you're heading down a bad path. If you're afraid to put it all on the line at any point in time, you're going to lose. And I would never put my life on the line in order to win a hand of poker. I mean, seriously, it's just a card game...

One last piece of advice for any new online players out there: pick up Poker Tracker. It will help you analyze your play and make you a better player. That's all I'll say about that.

Oh, and you'd be better off if you read some books too. Here's an essential readings list (and I'd read them in the following order too):

If you plan on playing tourneys and SNGs:

  1. Harrington on Holdem Volume 1

  2. Harrington on Holdem Volume 2
If you plan on playing limit ring games:
  1. Winning Low Limit Holdem (Lee Jones)

  2. Small Stakes Holdem (Ed Miller)

That'll give you a good head start. By the time you finish reading those, you'll know which other books you'd like to read and where your game needs the most help.

That's it for today, I think...time to hit the tables...

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