How Much to Risk

In our last lesson, we talked a little about the different games that a novice player would most likely encounter in a card room. I gave you my recommendations on what limits I thought best for the newbie, regardless of financial status away from the tables. It is important to consider, in advance of the actual playing, what amount of money is appropriate to risk in a given game at any given time. Not only the correct amount of money to buy in, but the amount that is suitable to "go for" during the play in question, that is, the amount of additional rebuys or add-ons.

Generally speaking, the smallest poker game in a cardroom will have a minimum buy-in amount of $20. Sure, I have seen games where you were allowed to get into action for $10, but they are few and far between. Not only that, but even the smallest game in the house needs an ample supply of bullets to win the battle. I suggest making a buy-in larger than the minimum amount required. There are several reasons for this. One is that small stacks of chips are a sign of weakness and may be exploited by others at the game. In these small games, there likely will be no seasoned players. However, make no mistake, there are savvy players even in the smallest of limits. One who buys in for very few chips is perceived as timid and weak. A more experienced player (which at this point would be anyone else in the game) will try to gain an advantage over a small stack merely by putting pressure on by playing more aggressively in the attempt to get you to fold your hand. By having an ample supply of chips, it makes it more dangerous to that same opponent to play excessively fast against you as you have chips with which to play back at him. Forcing a player to put his last chips in a pot is a good play. Playing tough against a player who has ammunition can be much more dangerous. You never want to make things easy for your opponent. Another reason to have an ample supply of chips is so that when you do pick up a big hand, you have enough chips to make money on your play. It also gives you the upper hand in the previous bully scenario. It enables you to put pressure on players whom you perceive to be weak and overly protective of their chips.

So how much is enough? I generally like to buy into a game for a rack of whatever the chip in play is. If you were playing with $1 chips, then that would be $100. In the smallest of games, this may be excessive. And, if you buy in this larger amount, you must have the discipline to know when to leave the game, whether you are winning or losing. A compromise may be more like $60 in a blue chip game. Be willing to add on to your stack so that you are not in danger of being forced all-in during the play of a hand. Oftentimes, this can work for you by giving you free cards in a hand that you otherwise would have folded. But, it is unwise to look at your game this way. Think of your chips as ways to get more chips. It takes some to get some.

IF you are a novice in the game, I am not suggesting that you risk more chips than your comfort level would allow. That would be my same advice for an experienced player as well. What I believe to be viable is to have enough ammunition to win the battle at hand. Class dismissed!