Don’t go broke: Help yourself

However talented people might be at the poker tables, they can nevertheless go broke if they don’t apply common sense to every aspect of the game. It seems difficult to believe that, with articles and advice about subjects as crucial as Bankroll Management being so easily accessible, and with so many disaster stories to remind us how easily someone can go broke, it continues to happen.

Yet the stark reality is that more than 50% of poker fans continue to find themselves no longer in a (financial, broke) position to keep playing. It would be easy to assume that everyone who logs on to play for several hours every day is a profit-making grinder, but this is not the case.

Why are there still so many people who manage their poker life so poorly? Is it a mystery, or are there specific causes? In this article we present reasons why even ostensibly experienced ‘regulars’ go bust.

Reasons to go broke

Many players have a tendency to overestimate their skills, which can lead to poor decision-making, incorrect gameplay and as a result, going broke. This often stems from a reluctance to acknowledge personal shortcomings, instead blaming losses on bad luck while attributing wins to their own skill.

This can further lead to risky behavior, such as moving up levels without sufficient skill or refusing to move down levels when needed. It’s crucial for you to maintain a realistic perspective on the game, accepting the role of both skill and luck, and understanding that their choices significantly impact game outcomes.

Bankroll Management to prevent going broke

Bankroll management is always a very important part of the game, this holds true regardless of how well we’re doing an d prevent us going broke. It’s easy (or, at least, it should be!) to understand that if we’re running badly we need to adjust accordingly in order to protect a damaged bankroll. However, it’s no less important to remember that we must endeavour to nurture and cultivate our bankroll at all times. With this in mind, an upswing doesn’t at all give us license to suddenly abandon a hitherto sensible and circumspect strategy. Giving ourselves the ‘luxury’ of throwing caution to the wind because a good run of results has made us eager to see a quick increase in our spending ability is a slippery slope – too many have seen the relaxation of prudent BRM lead to their fortunes going in the wrong direction. A reckless approach inspired by running hot can lead to disaster even quicker than failing to adjust in the other direction after running badly.


A sound appreciation and understanding of Variance is crucial if we harbour even modest ambition. Everyone, regardless of their ability or where they see themselves going in their individual poker quest, needs to make sure they had awareness of Variance and its potential implications. We often use the term ‘recreational players’ to describe those who don’t take the game too seriously and – compared with so-called ‘grinders’ who put in long sessions at the tables purely to generate profit – play for fun, but this runs the risk of suggesting they don’t approach the game (on and off the table) logically.

Tilt can quickly lead to going broke

As so-called ‘4-letter’ words go, Tilt is one of those unwelcome words among poker fans. We all recognise it in others’ play, but as well as trying to brush it under the carpet when we’re guilty of it, we also fail to recognise the causes. One would think it’s a given that a level head is an absolute must for anyone with even the most modest expectations from poker but, evidently, so many are lacking on this front (or, more accurately, don’t like to think of themselves in this context).

It’s precisely in this kind of situation that so many let themselves down by going on tilt. The word is so descriptive of how we can lose rationality to the point that we make potentially disastrous decisions that it’s used nowadays in everyday life as well as poker.

Bad habits at Micro Limits can lead to going broke

Just about everyone in poker takes their first steps on the path to would-be glory by cutting their teeth at so-called micro limits. The level of opposition tends to be on the low side, with the vast majority of thinking on terms of only their own cards and the connection they do or don’t have to the board. Play tends to be basic, with virtually no nuance or deep thought. This might sound like great news for those looking to exploit weak play by adopting a solid, albeit unimaginative ABC strategy, and, indeed, it’s not overly difficult to beat the game at micro stakes. We can get away with playing a sub-optimal game – even one that features inaccuracies – and still come out ahead to going broke.

And herein lies a potentially serious problem! It’s one thing beating an inferior bunch of players, but quite another moving up levels and enjoying the same success. Too many, so used to their flawed game-plan nonetheless being good enough to beat weak(er) opponents, take that same leaky strategy with them as they rise up the stakes ladder and, ultimately, will pay the price.

Author: YPD
last updated 14.12.2023