Posted on Feb 24, 2009 by Gugel in Variance
Heads up poker has a quite a bit more variance than 6max or fullring. In other words, when you run hot, you’re really making bank, but you also get brutal downswings. Take a look at my lifetime graph.
I’ve had 2 really major downswings. In a little over 100,000 hands, I’ve had one downswing for 26 buyins and another one for 24 buyins. This just goes to show how important bankroll management is to a successful poker player. So, how many buyins do you need for heads up cash games? Here’s what you need to consider
- Psychological Devastation: If you’re playing with a 30 buyin roll and you lose 25 buyins, you are going to be psychologically crushed. Your bankroll is down over 83%! If you have a 50 buyin bankroll and you lose 25 buyins, that’s only a 50% decrease. Still pretty brutal, but you are much more likely to recover and continue on your poker career.
- Moving Down: Some people are very disciplined and move down after a certain stop-loss, say 5 or 10 buyins. I’ve never been too good at that. My stoploss is usually 20 buyins… If you are very disciplined and are willing to move down (unlike me), you can have a smaller bankroll.
- Winrate: The better the player the fewer (and less brutal) the downswings. If I had to guess though, I’d bet you’re overrating your skill level. You will run worse than you ever though possible. I guarantee it.
So here’s the gripping conclusion. I think a 40 buyin bankroll is a good starting point for heads up cash games. Consider the 3 factors I mentioned and adjust accordingly.
For further reading on dealing with downswings, I highly recommend this 2+2 post.
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