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The One Thing About Money Management In Poker

I already told a lie, and I’m an honest guy. That was an unintentional rhyme, which is actually the truth. The lie I told is in the title. There isn’t just one thing about Money Management in poker. I will cover the many things about Money Management. And in case you were wondering, I’m capitalizing Money Management because it’s so dang important! Do you want to win at poker? I can lead you there. This is a different path, but it’s a profitable path.


The poker world has many characters. I can’t cover all of them here, but I will cover some of them. When you’re done reading about the characters, you will understand the difference between me and them. I’m nothing special. I just usually find a way to win. It can sometimes take a while, and I’ll hit some bumps in the road, but I will never stop until I win. Never! I’ll need some breathers, but those breathers often make me stronger. I’m sure some of you can relate to this mindset. Now let’s meet those characters.


Oh wait … shoot. That means something else, doesn’t it? My bad! I mean that this person is a donkey and his name is Dick. But that’s short for Richard and this is awkward, so let’s change it to Donkey Richard.

Donkey Richard loses money because he calls all the damn time. Then he complains about getting unlucky. He might run good and win a session once in a while, which keeps him in the game, but he is a donkey and loses money over the long haul. Since he loses money, Money Management is irrelevant.


I’m sure there are many cool and mellow Spencer folks out there, but Spencer just sounds like the name of someone who drives a showy car, belongs to a country club, and yells at the waitress when the service is bad. I know I’m stereotyping a name here, but what about you and Karen, huh? So please get off my back. Love you, though!

As far as Spencer goes, this guy is a strong player. He knows the game in and out and people respect him. But he likes to spend money on lavish things like nice cars and expensive hotel rooms because he wants to be liked (and loved) by others. Spencer might get what he’s really after, but don’t be fooled; he is not a profitable poker player because he spends more than he earns. When a downswing hits, Spencer becomes a Seth. And Seth is broke.


This dude is fearless at the table. He will crush your soul. On the felt, he knows exactly when to speed up and when to slow down. For most people, he’s frustrating to play against. The key to this is to stop trying to figure him out and see how he views you, then play off that. But even if you’re one of the few players he has trouble with, he’s still crushing everyone else. Just one problem: He spends his money on drugs and alcohol. Badass Brad is only a badass at the poker table. He’s just Brad off the table. And he will eventually be Broke Brad.


You know where I’m going. This is like reading a NIT that raises 3x the BB UTG. You know he has AK at worst. Anyway, Steve Yobs is capable of winning at the poker table, but he throws all that money into business ventures that never work. The ‘Y’ stands for yoke in the face. Steve Yobs eventually ends up broke.


UBER AGGRO player with a big Ego. This player thinks it’s more about looking cool than long-term profits. He will have some big winning sessions, but when he falls, it’s a massive fall that crashes through the concrete and carries him to the depths of financial hell. Since he has a big Ego, he has trouble handling it and quits poker. At least for a little while. When he returns to the game, he will text Variance and tell her to come over just for one drink. That drink turns into 12 and love-making with Variance. In the end, Variance will take him for everything he owns. Again.


Robert is a good player, but he’s competitive. What he’s not realizing is that a true competitor will not let Ego in the door and find a way to win. When you let your competitive nature control your emotions, Ego is already squatting in your subconscious. When Robert loses, he feels he’s a +EV and rebuys. This makes sense on the surface, but let’s dig a little deeper.


Every time I have this conversation with someone, they say to me, “That’s a good point. I never looked at that way.”

Why the hell not? The last time I had this conversation was with a pro player who played at Harrah’s Cherokee. I don’t really understand how the following thoughts haven’t crossed the mind of a professional poker player. I think most poker pros are so wrapped up in the technical side of the game that they’re missing one very important objective: PROFITS! 

I’m not talking about winning a hand, winning one cash game session, or shipping a tournament. That’s where 90% of poker players fall, which is why so few win. I’m talking about a long-term strategy that makes you profitable.

We’ll begin with this. Let’s say you know you’re going to fire two $300 bullets in a live 2/5 NL game. If you know this and your stack is down to $120 on your first bullet, do you think you’re going to be applying max focus? Hell no! You know you have another bullet, which is going to lead to more risk-taking.

On the other hand, if you’re only playing one bullet and your stack is down to $120, then you’re going to be more patient. When you’re patient, you’re going to play higher quality hands. When you play higher quality hands, you have a better chance of winning. You can make the NIT argument all you want, but the truth is that most of your opponents are emotional and will not be capable of folding top pair/top kicker or a flush draw when you have a set. Of course there are times your opponent will fold because of your image, but this doesn’t happen as often as you think on big pots. It happens more often on smaller pots earlier in the hand.

If you’re patient in these situations in a cash game, and you know you will be playing for at least a few more hours, all you need is one decent pot to gain momentum. If you show another premium hand when you win that pot, you can now throw in a couple of surprises, such as raising pre with 87s from the Cutoff. If you hit that flop, you’re going to get paid. If they happen to see that hand, now they have no idea what to think. But they usually won’t see that hand because of your image.

Now let’s say you rebuy. What mindset do you think you’re going to have? In the back of your mind, you know you need to win $300 just to break even. That being the case, you’re much more likely to speed up your play, which is not a good thing. There will be times where you make your money back, but in most cases, you will not. Based on what I have seen at the poker table—and I have seen A LOT—rebuying in cash games is –EV over the long haul. Recover, Refresh, Return.

I know many pros will argue that they should stay at a table when they believe they’re a favorite. I understand that, but these pros are forgetting one very important thing: You’re playing against yourself. It all comes down to your level of focus and discipline.

Now that we have covered the Characters, let’s take a look at Cost-Cutting.


You need every edge you can get in this game. Let me put it this way. I have absolutely zero fear of rejection. I will fire at every poker room, tournament series, etc. to make a deal where I can cut my costs. I would say that about 50% say yes. Those are my allies going forward. Remember, I don’t stop until I win. J

This is my off-the-felt approach to the game. If you can find a way to cut costs that works for you, go for it. This might mean traveling with a group, couponing, traveling during off-peak times, or something else. Just make sure you find a way to cut costs.

Treat poker like a business. The money you make on the felt is your revenue, but you need to be in the black on the bottom line or it means nothing. In order to be in the black on the bottom line, you need your revenue to be higher than your costs. I cut costs and have several poker-related revenue streams. Nothing major, but when combined, it helps.


The following numbers include live and online settings. These are my cash game results for the year…

Win/Loss: 25-21

Overall: +$2,526.60

Prior to the past two sessions, the past week had been my first losing week, but I just roll with it, knowing that even if I’m just an average poker player, the numbers will eventually work in my favor. I know this for one simple reason. Since I don’t rebuy, the most I can lose is $200. However, there is no limit to my upside. Therefore, I’m going to end up being profitable as long as I’m an average player.

Look at that Win/Loss record. That’s not very impressive, yet I’m +$2,526.60. How many poker players are going to have a Win/Loss record of 25-21 and be up $2.5k? This isn’t me trying to show off. In fact, that’s only a return of $54 per session. I can’t live off that, which is why I need other revenue streams.

I’m telling you this information to try to get you to realize the importance of Money Management in Poker and specifically the value of the no-rebuy approach to the game. My job is to help and entertain you. If I don’t accomplish those two goals, then I’m not doing my job.

BE VERY WARY of poker players that ship big tourneys, have a monster session, and talk a big game. This is the poker world. Be careful who you trust. I will always report the truth. And I’m always going to find a way to win. If you want to follow this path, I recommend reading the other articles on this site. I’ll leave it up to you. And unlike articles by other poker writers, you will also learn what not to do. I will always admit my errors.


Here is what I’m trying to tell you. STOP listening to the people who only teach you about the technical side of the game. In order to be profitable, it goes much deeper than that. Being profitable in the game of poker requires much more than what you do on the felt. Once you begin to look at your poker-playing career as a business—and start keeping records of every session you play in—that’s when your mindset changes. Even if you want to just keep things as simple as possible, never rebuy for your next 50 sessions and see what happens.

See you on the felt!

♠ Tyler Nals | pokerjournal.org