“Building a poker bankroll
Many people consider that investing serious money into something that is a mere hobby for them doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and they’re probably right. On top of that, recreational poker players never really get around to fully understanding the nature of the game and the way it’s supposed to work, and thus they’ll find it extremely difficult to turn it into a lucrative deal. I’ve heard people say you should never risk more money on poker than you can afford to take to the back of your garden and burn. That is just baloney. Every investment needs an initial push to get rolling, and online poker – for a player who knows how he’s supposed to milk it – works the same way.
Anyway, it would appear that nowadays one can start a lucrative poker career without making any sort of investment at all.
The online poker industry is so competitive nowadays that poker rooms would do just about anything to acquire new, active players. So much so, that some of these poker rooms will give players free real money upfront, with almost no strings attached (I said "almost" because you will have to fulfill the turnover requirements on your free money before cash-out). All you need to do is sign up to the poker room in question, and usually insert some sort of bonus ode which will automatically transfer the money into your real money account. After that, you can hit the real-money tables and start a-playing as if it were your own money. As soon as you’ve fulfilled the play-through requirement(s) you may cash out.
Don’t expect anything resembling a healthy bankroll though. These bonuses are not meant to make you rich, but rather to provide a start in online poker for those who may feel shy and not willing to risk anything. The free bankroll will usually be made up of a few tens of dollars, which will only really represent a potent bankroll in some of the lowest limits/stakes games (remember, you have to have about 300BBs in your bankroll a the limit you play at to be properly bankrolled).
That fact that it is indeed possible to start a real bankroll using a few of these free bucks has been proven by many, the mot notorious such experiment being that if Chris Ferguson who built up a $10,000 bankroll out of nothing on Full Tilt Poker without taking advantage of the Full Tilt rakeback deal either.
Certainly, you’ll need some very healthy skills and almost endless patience to come anywhere near his performance, but it is indeed possible in theory.
Despite that, playing on a free bankroll will present you with a series of drawbacks which will hit you pretty hard, especially if you’re a rookie. Being under-bankrolled can very well curve the efforts of a professional player, let alone a rookie. Also, the deal that you get with your free bankroll will usually deprive you of some of the best bonuses and recurring-edge offers (rakeback) that the poker room features for its paying customers.
Thus the rake will hit you much harder, and your "bankroll" will offer you last protection. As they say, looking a gift horse in the mouth though is not something reasonable to do, so you’ll have to make do with what you get.
When playing on a free bankroll, it makes a lot of sense to start out with STTs (Single Table Tournaments). These offer you much increased odds compared to cash games, and they protect your bankroll by completely eliminating the "being under-bankrolled" issue, and taking some of the bite out of the rake.
“Building a poker bankroll