Online Tournament Poker for Beginners: Site Selection and Bankroll

Hello fellow poker players! My name is Justin Butlion and I’m proud to be writing my first article for Cardplayerlifestyle.com.  Writing up these articles and sharing them with you is my way of giving back to the online poker community, which has helped me improve my game over the years.

The world of poker has grown exponentially over the last decade, which has helped draw hundreds of thousands of new players from every corner of the globe to online poker rooms. If you are one of these “newbies” who has decided to see what all the fuss is about and try your luck at becoming the next Tom Dwan or Jon Turner, then my extensive series on online tournament poker for beginners is just what you need.

Each article in this series will cover different aspects of online tournament poker. In this article I will be covering site selection and recommended bankroll management.

In future articles I will be covering all aspects of playing online tournament poker, including: early stages of multi-table tournaments (MTTs for short), how to constantly grow your stack, shifting gears when it matters at the final table, and much more. I will also be giving valuable tips on how to control tilt and what it means to play poker over the long run. I might even take a dive into SNGs (single table tournaments) and why you should or shouldn’t play satellite tournaments. Let’s get started!

Which site do I choose? Which site is best for tournaments?

There is a lot of debate around this question but I am going to make it simple for all the readers out there. The two biggest poker sites, PokerStars and Full Tilt, are THE best sites for online tournament poker and for every form of poker in my opinion. Both sites offer great software, a plethora of different types of tournaments and great technical support if you happen to have any trouble with the software or logging into your account. I already hear everyone asking, which one do I choose? The answer is Full Tilt Poker. Here’s the main reason why: Full Tilt offers more tournaments for the lower buy-ins than PokerStars.

This allows an amateur with a limited bankroll to find more games available at his (lower) buy-in limit. Another major advantage I found when playing at Full Tilt Poker is that even though some tournaments can attract thousands of players, many lower buy-in tournaments would have only a few hundred players, allowing the tournament to be over in a few hours. This is rarely the case with PokerStars tournaments, which, on average, attract many more players.  As of this writing, both sites offer the same signup bonus of 100% up to $600. When it comes to opponent difficulty, I found both sites to be more or less the same.

Bankroll Management: How Much to Deposit? What Should Be My Average Buy-In?

When most people decide that they want to play online, they usually deposit $50 or maybe $100 into their online accounts. There is nothing wrong with this approach, especially for someone with little to no poker experience. Economically speaking, however, the best option is to make a first deposit of as much as you can, up to $600, in order to fully benefit from the great signup bonus that the major sites currently offer. Make sure you read the full details of how to clear signup bonuses for each site. Most players expect the signup bonus money to be available to them as soon as they have deposited into their account, but this is rarely the case.

Bankroll management is always a hot topic and there are multiple strategies as to how a player should approach the game with limited funds. Whatever your strategy, it’s important to ALWAYS stick to it, come hell or high water. Many expert poker players have found themselves flat broke because they failed to stick to the fundamentals of bankroll management.

Here’s a simple bankroll management strategy for online tournament poker that just plain works: Divide the amount of your initial deposit by 100. This should be the highest buy-in for every tournament you play. For example, if you deposit $500 online (to get the most out of the signup bonus), dividing by 100 comes to $5, meaning you are allowed to play any tournament with a buy-in of $5 or less. This allows you to play up to the $4.40 tournaments on Full Tilt, for example.  DO NOT STRAY FROM BANKROLL MANAGEMENT GUIDELINES.

If you found this article helpful or interesting, or if you have any specific questions, please feel free to leave your comments, questions, and suggestions and I’ll try to address them in my next post. Part 2 in this series of articles about Online Tournament Poker will address game selection and variance.

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