Playing Online Poker on the Right Level

What level is the right level for you when you start out playing online poker? Simply put, this depends on how much money you have or rather, how much you are ready to lose. Nobody aims at losing, but it can happen and it does not only depend on your skill.

Natural swings in poker

Imbedded in the nature of the game is the fluctuation of a poker player's bankroll. No player can ever win every single pot, or even every single session.

You must be prepared to tolerate losses due to natural variations, such as bad beats or simply getting a long streak of bad cards, even if you're a winning player over time.

Say, for example, that you look down at your hole cards and find a pair of aces. Great! You raise and one player calls. Great! The flop is A-9-6 with two spades. Really great! There are no possible straights or flushes right now, so you know you have the best hand at the moment.

Nevertheless, no matter how you play the hand from here, there is no guarantee that you will win the pot. Your opponent might have a straight or flush draw, or both, or you may be up against a lower set. All these hands have the potential to beat you if the right (or wrong) cards fall. And still, you cannot possibly lay your hand down since it is such a great hand. So you have to play it out to the end, and you have to accept losing with it from time to time.

Differences in no limit, fixed limit and tournament poker

The size of these natural variations varies depending on what kind of game you play. For instance, variations are much greater in no-limit or pot-limit than in fixed-limit games.

Also, if you play large tournaments you may have to play quite a few before being able to bring home any substantial prize money.

Some bankroll guidelines

The bankroll needed to avoid going broke depends on a lot of unknown factors, such as your style of play and the style of your opponents. The figures below are rough guidelines.

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Also remember that your bankroll is not the amount of money you have on a poker site, but the total amount of your poker funds (which often is not so easy to figure out).

Recommended bankrolls

Fixed limit games
600 big blinds

No limit games
3000 big blinds

Sit and go tournaments
50 buy-ins