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David Sklansky has done some groundbreaking tournament bankroll analysis in his book, Poker, Gaming & Life. This is some of what he discovered. I warn you ahead of time, it's a bit mind-blowing.
If you are a highly skilled tournament player who plays well enough to expect to win twice your buy-in amount per tournament over the long-run, this is what you can expect if you play in typically payout-structured $1000 buy-in tournaments:
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There are some generally accepted rules on bankroll management for cash games. Typically 30 buy-ins for the limit you're playing is a good enough cushion to absorb any negative variance. Really though, if you haven't beaten a particular stake level ever before, and you drop around 15 buy-ins, you should be moving down until you can win.
Running bad is going to happen to everyone multiple times throughout their poker careers. However, let's have a moment of honesty. If you knew what you were doing, and were skilled enough, you could absorb most negative variance by making the best play in many other situations. This holds especially true the lower the stakes you are playing. The higher the stakes you're playing, the less this will hold true because the average potential skill gap between you and your opponent will be less. At micro and small stakes though, the average potential skill gap can be gigantic.
There are a lot more short stackers in today's games, and ones that are slightly more competent then they were in the past. We'll define a short stack as anyone with a stack between 15–35 BBs. On most online poker sites the minimum buy-in is 20–30 BBs, so most short stackers will be around this range. One of the most important things when facing a short stacker is knowing what kind of short stacker they are, because your calling ranges are going to vary depending on this.
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Bluffing is obviously an important part of poker. Everyone knows this, but many people get in trouble with bluffs. One of the most common problems is that people think once they start a bluff they can’t stop and end up bluffing all‐in. After you get called on one street most of the time it is wise to give up the bluff. However, if you have a gutshot straight draw and make a bet or a raise you could continue the bluff by planning to bluff certain cards. Like if the board completes a flush draw or straight draw you could represent these big hands. So you can win the hand by making your hand or by bluffing on a scare card. But if a brick hits the turn or river you need to exercise discipline and be willing to give up the hand.
Sometimes boards will come down that hit your perceived range very hard and you will have a hand that has completely missed the flop, if you have a very marginal hand and you're against an opponent who is capable of barrelling as the board gets scarier for the range of hands you're representing by calling a flop continuation bet, you may want to raise the flop as a bluff.
Generally, a flop call, especially on a drawy board, represents a range with marginal strength because many players will give lots of action with a draw on such a board if they think they have good equity versus a calling range as well as some folding equity. Against players who continuation bet and barrel too often, but often enough that you will make mistakes on future streets, you may be best off choosing to raise the flop as a (semi)bluff.
When to get the money in:
Let’s take a quick refresher course in statistics before we continue. If you flip a fair coin, since a coin has only two sides, the probability of flipping heads versus tails is one in two. If you flip the coin again, the probability of it coming up heads again is also one in two. Each coin flip is an independent event and as such is not affected by previous flips. What about the probability associated with coming up a winner on two or more consecutive rounds? Calculating the odds for multiple flips is simple and helpful in terms of understanding the probability of seeing strings of back-to-back events.
What is the probability of flipping two heads in a row? This is calculated by taking the one-in-two probability and multiplying it by itself, which turns out to be one in four. In this case, the combined probability of one in four means that in four consecutive two-flip sets only one of them will likely produce back-to-back heads. Since there are twice as many ways that two flips can turn out, the probability against success therefore becomes doubled. The two flips can yield a combination of headsheads, heads-tails, tails-heads, or tails-tails, and only one of the four two-flip sets meets our requirements. Okay, enough of the refresher course and on to its application to poker.
One: keep track of your results. If you are honest with yourself, you will be driven to improve. Two: study, practice, and repeat. If you genuinely want to become and remain a winning poker player, these two things alone, done unwaveringly, will get you there.
You have already started to do this. You must study. You must engage your brain and constantly ask yourself, "What part of my game can I improve?" Reading a poker book once will not be enough. Read poker books several times. Think about what you have read. Question it. Learn it. Consume it.
Studying means that you are actively working on getting better away from the table. You are doing things while you are not playing that will make you better. Chess masters do not only play chess, they study. Football players study video of the opposition to learn their strengths and weaknesses. Hockey players shoot thousands of pucks at empty nets. Army generals spend countless hours studying intelligence reports. If you want to get better at anything, you must be a lifetime learner. You must study.