Bankroll Management: A Cashout Strategy

Bankroll Management

You may have come to the conclusion that I am a stickler for bankroll management if you have read my previous two articles that have introduced the topic and addressed taking shots and moving up in stakes. My preaching continues with a third and final piece on the subject, this time focusing on making intelligent decisions when it comes to taking money out of your bankroll — in other words, when cashing out.

Let’s face it, we all want to be making regular withdrawals from our online poker accounts. And once we’ve gathered some experience and have begun to figure out how to win at poker, it is most certainly a realizable goal to try to begin building a bankroll and to take some out from time to time, even for casual or recreational players.

Although I’m not a professional poker player, I do enjoy treating myself and my family with profits I make from this crazy game. I believe that it is important to reward yourself for your hard work and dedication, not to mention give gifts to those around you who have had to endure your poker playing for hours at a time!

My problem is that I prefer to play multi-table tournaments, so often I will go through periods during which I may not make any profit for several weeks and then have a glut of results that either replenish the previous losses or — if I am lucky — increase my bankroll. It can be hard sometimes to explain to my better half, then, that the $1,500 will be staying in my poker account and not being used for a treat.

One way around this is to base your cashout strategy on a fantastic system created some time ago by a player known as “Jennifear.” A while back Jennifear authored an especially popular article on bankroll management, and despite it being several years old it is still relevant today.

Jennifear suggests that you should reward yourself based on your volume — that is how much you play — instead of your results, mainly because we can exert 100% control over the amount we play but cannot enjoy so much control when it comes to our results. For example, if you play tournaments, by withdrawing a percentage of your tournament buy-in every time you play one, you not only have a steady income that you can control, but your regular withdrawals should keep you at a buy-in level at which you are profitable.

The best way to explain the system is to give an example. Let’s say I play the $8 buy-in 180-man tournaments at PokerStars. Jennifear says I should remove 8% of my buy-in from my bankroll every time I play one of those games. This works out to be $0.64. So if I were to play a lengthy session of 50 of these $8 buy-in 180-man tournaments, that means I should withdraw $32 from my bankroll regardless of my results at the table.

Jennifear additionally suggests to withdraw all bonuses as soon as they are earned so that the money you are playing with is money earned from actual poker playing. She also advises that if a player wants to take a shot at higher stakes it should be done with no more than one-fourth of the money he or she has cashed out.

For example, you want to play in a $100 buy-in tournament then you should save up $400 worth of cashouts, withdraw $300, then take your shot in that $100 buy-in event. Should you then win, withdraw at least 75% of the winnings immediately, otherwise you will be using shot-taking to pad your bankroll when the system is designed to keep you at a level that is profitable to you.

Below is a table showing Jennifear’s recommendations for cashouts. Please note that these figures are from a few years back and although they will not have changed a great deal, you may want to withdraw less as potential win rates tend to be lower in today’s games.

Tournament TypeWithdraw
Heads-Up Sit-n-Go2% of your total buy-in
Single Table Tournaments3% of your total buy-in
18-man SNG4% of your total buy-in
45-man SNG5% of your total buy-in
180-man SNG / Multi-Table Tourney8% of your total buy-in

It’s important not only to come to the poker table with strategies in place that can enable you to win, but also once you do win to have a strategy as well for what to do with your winnings. As I say, creating a well-considered plan for occasionally cashing out is most definitely worth pursuing, and can greatly enhance your enjoyment of the game.

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