Poker Stop Loss – Work Yours Out

Poker Stop Loss

Losses will happen in poker players. It’s inevitable and par of the game. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting down for the first time or Daniel Negreanu, you will suffer losing sessions. Losing affects people differently. Some have excellent emotional control but a lot of player’s suffer from tilt. We’re human, not robots, and taking a bad beat or being on the wrong side of a cooler might affect how you play. One of the ways to protect your bankroll is to setup a personal rule called a poker stop loss. In this article, we will look at what a stop loss is and how it can help you.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is a Poker Stop Loss?

A stop loss is a fixed rule that triggers you quitting your session and stop playing after a certain number of buy-ins. It is should be an objective number not based on personal feelings.

Different Types of Stop Losses

There are a few different stop losses you can enforce. You can use a few simultaneously or only use one. 

Daily Limit Stop Loss

Setting a stop loss based on a daily limit is a good idea as it give’s breathing space. Some players find this particularly useful if they usually play a few sessions in a day. FYI – This is useful to implement for casino games too, particularly NonStopCasino sites, which have less information on problem gambling and less regulation too.

Table Stop Loss

If you are multi-tabling, having a table stop loss is usually to prevent you losing against potentially stronger opponents. The theory behind it is ok but it doesn’t protect you from tilting on other tables does it?

Session Stop Loss

This is the most common type. It’s easy to understand and follow. If you hit your stop loss, you quit. It’s important to ensure you have sufficient time between sessions though, otherwise, you can bypass stop loss by counting it as a “new session”. I recommend at least 4 hours between starting a new session. Otherwise, if you play again 1 hour later, there is a risk of you being in the same mindset as before.

Considerations for Setting Stop Loss

The amount you set should depend on your emotional control, experience, playing style, proneness to tilt and format you play.
The more experienced, less prone to tilt and shorter handed games you play, the higher stop loss you can have. Some of these measures are easy to assess. You know if you play heads up or shorthanded, you know if you’ve played 6 months or 6 years. But when it comes to rating your likelihood of tilting – you need to be honest and ruthless with yourself. Think back to the last few sessions where you lost. At what point did you feel your game suffering? How likely are you to spew, make bad calls or silly bluffs? Now, rate your proneness to tilt based one the above scores.

1) Cold as ice. It takes a lot to get you off your game and you have a professional attitude.
2) Luke warm. You are generally very composed even after 1 or 2 buy in losses. However, a bad run of hands and several losses will start to affect to your game.
3) Heart on sleeve. You don’t take well to losing buy ins and start to make silly mistakes pretty quickly.

Texas Hold’em Question’s Stop Loss Calculator

Choosing a stop loss for yourself can be tricky. The most important thing is to find out what is right for you and sticking to it. Treat it as a rule and don’t deviate it from. Also, if you feel like you are playing bad before the stop loss, quit before it. That’s an incredibly important thing to remember. The rule is there to protect your bankroll and losing more but if you are already playing bad, leave the game.

I’ve created a stop loss calculator. Run through the table below, tallying up your scores. Use the key at the end to find out how many buy-ins should have as your stop loss.

PointsExperienceBankroll ManagementFormatPlaying Style Proneness to Tilt
5> 5 Years> 100 Buy-insHeads upLAGIce Cold
3Between 1 and 5 yearsBetween 50 and 100 buy-ins6 Max TAGLukewarm
1< 1 Year< 50 Buy-insFull RingNittyHeart on Sleeve

Have you added your points up? Find out what stop loss limit to employ from the table below:

ScoreStop Loss Limit
> 2010 Buy-ins
Between 15 and 208 Buy-ins
Between 6 and 146 Buy-ins
< 6 3 Buy-ins


The table above is a guide to help you calculate how many buy-ins you should set for you stop loss. However, if you ticked heart on sleeve for proneness to tilt. I recommend moving down 1 in the table above. For instance, if your total was 12, move from 6 buy-ins down to 3. Your proneness to tilt is one of the biggest factors to setting a stop loss so it holds more weight than the other aspects.

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When is it Right to Move Up in Stakes?

When to Move up in Stakes

A question asked by thousands of poker player’s, judging when to move up in stakes is a skill in itself. Without context or analysis, one might think it’s right to move up when you can afford it and have a large bankroll. The question of when to move up in stakes is a little more complex than that though. There are factors to consider that should determine whether it’s correct to make the move to the level above.

Bankroll Management

First and foremost, before moving up stakes, you need to look at your bankroll and ensure you have sufficient amount to play without risk of going broke. There’s a lot of debate over what is the correct level of buy ins. I advocate 50 buy-ins for cash games. If you’re playing NL $50 (25c/50c blinds) and considering whether to move up in stakes to NL $100, you probably should have at least $5,000 in your bankroll. I don’t mean $5,000 in your savings; I mean your bankroll specific for poker. That’s an important distinction, we don’t want you playing with money saved for holidays, do we? Some of you may read this and be shocked, playing with 5- 10 buy ins thinking you’re conservative. The truth is that there is variance, bad luck and your own poor play you have to overcome in the long run and that means having a bankroll that can sustain the swings involved.


Players sometimes can’t handle moving up, it impacts their game and they hate being out of their comfort level. It causes them to make poor decisions, nit up or tilt easier. Does this sound like you? If you are a long-term winner at your current level with a decent win rate, perhaps it’s best to stay there. Not everyone is destined for high stakes poker, few can get there and stay there. If you’ve had trouble in the past moving up and have a problem with the psychology, spend some time reading books on the mental side of poker and improve that aspect before moving up.

How Much are You Winning?

It’s staggering that some people don’t track their winnings efficiently. It’s critical to understanding which game is best for you, to track your profitability. Whether that’s ROI for tournaments or hourly rate for cash games. Before considering moving up, you need an accuracy and clarity on what your actual win rate is. I think that hourly rate is the best metric to go by. Time is precious to all of us. We want to earn the most amount for as little as we can, right?

Sample Size

If you’ve taken a shot to get to your current level, played a few thousand hands and considering moving up again, forget it. Poker results can’t be judged on 2,000 hands, 10 tournaments or 20 SNGS. Volume is what counts. Its why strong players will look at yearly results, not daily. Look at tournament players, they are playing serious volume, exercising their edge over countless tournaments to prove out their ROI. They know they are a “loser” the majority of the time but the top 3 finishes will be hundreds of times their buy in. You need a solid amount of data to rely on and interpret before taking the decision to move up in stakes.

Final Thoughts

My advice is to move up when you have sufficient information that supports your decision to move up. If you have the right mentality, a sustained win rate, lots of hands and the right bankroll, then it’s probably time to go for it. Once you move up, make sure you give yourself a proper chance. Don’t lose a few buy ins and drop a limit with your tail between your legs. If you’re a proven winner with the right tools and dedication, there’s no reason you can’t beat the game above. I also want to point out it’s fine to take the occasional stab at higher stakes to see the standard of play, test yourself against better players and learn.  

Poker Excel Dashboard – Do You Have One?

Poker Excel Spreadsheets

What’s your spreadsheet skills like? Have you thought to mix poker and Excel yet? I’m a massive fan of spreadsheets, data, reporting and good record keeping so combining the two was natural for me. The great thing about utilising spreadsheets for poker is it provides you with insights you wouldn’t have known otherwise. You’re the creator and can customise your tables and graphs how you wish.

Poker Excel
Template Texas Holdem Questions Data Sheet for Poker Excel Dashboard

Facts Don’t Lie

The great thing about data is that it’s factual, unbiased and truth. Fact’s don’t lie and it’s there, in your face. It forces you to confront areas you didn’t want to before because it’s easier to ignore them. Let’s say you start record keeping your cash game sessions through poker excel spreadsheets and you find out over a year that you lose money on Monday nights. This may be painful to you because you’re off on Tuesdays and like playing in the one available game that lets you play at a convenient time for you. What will you do with this information? Will you stop playing that game now or not? Spreadsheets are great in this way as it’s not anecdotal or hear say information, it will provide useful, relevant facts.

ITM Poker

Garbage in Garbage out

If you are keen to start having a poker excel spreadsheet, there are some rules you need to adhere to, otherwise it’s a pointless activity. You may have heard the saying that reporting can be only as good as the accuracy of the data input i.e. if you put garbage in, you’ll get garbage out. Here are some basic fundamental rules if you are considering a poker excel spreadsheet.

  1. Enter data accurately
  2. Don’t get too excited or too downbeat by short-term results
  3. Don’t keep cancelling and starting again
  4. Stick with it

Texas Hold’em Questions Poker Excel Dashboard

I appreciate not everyone is an excel wizard. Perhaps you’re interested in improving your record keeping, monitoring your win rate and finding out your “niche” in poker but don’t have a knack for spreadsheets. Fortunately, we are highly proficient in excel and can help you. I use it all the time with the players I mentor. It’s a fantastic way to track performance on a regular basis. At a glance of a graph, I can tell if John Doe is winning this month, whether he’s up year on year and which game is his strongest. These insights help decision making moving forward. If this is something you potentially want, we can certainly help you. If you’re interested in a stand-alone product of poker excel dashboard reporting or just the start-up excel sheet and you input figures – we can help you. Just fill in the form below and I will get back to you with options and pricing. See some snapshots below for an idea of what the dashboard and graphs can look like.

We can quickly see John started well in January and has been on a decline since. Do you track your monthly winnings efficiently and compare against previous months?

See how John wins in the morning/daytime but loses at night? If there is a lot of data and volume, he may need to consider playing only playing during day time. Do you monitor whether you play better during day or night?

John wins at NL $50 and $100 and a loser NL $200. At a glance, he should focus on NL $50. Do you track your performance at different stakes?

Are you interested in having a poker excel dashboard? Get in touch below and we will get back to you soon.

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What is Rakeback?

Introduction to Rakeback

Firstly, let’s look at rake. You know how the gambling sites make their money right? The rake is charged on pots in cash games or on top of a buy in an MTT. Every pot or tournament played by an individual contributes to the site’s revenue in the form of rake. You play a $10 tournament and they will probably charge $1, win a cash game pot and they will take a percentage too. Rakeback is kickback from the website to you as an incentive to play more. It is essentially commission paid back to the player.There are two main forms.

Contributed Rakeback

The player’s rakeback is proportional to the pots they are involved in. For instance, if you are involved in a pot that is $25 and the rake is $2, you will receive a percent of this back in form of contributed rakeback. The percentage is dependent on the agreement but often around 25% so you will receive $0.50 for that pot.

Dealt Rakeback

This is where the rakeback from a pot is split evenly by those on the table. For instance, a pot of $25 on a 9 handed table, the rake of $2 with 25% agreement is split between the players, entitling you to approx. $0.22c. This scheme is more beneficial for the tighter player as it rewards you whether or not you are directly involved in the pot.

Who is Rakeback for?

Anyone can sign up. It is of most value to those who play regularly and play a lot of volume. It can turn a break even player into a winning one, and a losing player into a break even one with sufficient volume. It also makes a winner, a much bigger winner. In short, it is free money and every poker player should be involved in a scheme.  There are millions of players playing that are turning down free money.

What is rakeback?

Do You Play Turbo SNGs?

You absolutely need to get on a rakeback scheme. There are lots of sites out there that offer good deals. Turbo SNGs are notorious for high rake, signing up to a rakeback deal will mitigate this and help your ROI. It’s also worth pointing out that there are players around the world that are playing thousands of turbo sngs on rakeback deals. They don’t need to play high or even medium stakes due to the currency conversion.


Now you know, sign up for it. It’s an essential to any and all poker players. Whether you are playing recreationally or professionally, you want to make money from poker and rakeback is way of contributing to this, for free.

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ITM Poker Ratio for Tournaments

What is “ITM”?

An abbreviation of “In The Money”, ITM is a term used in tournament poker to quantify the rate at which a poker player will make the money/cash in a tournament.

Benefits of ITM

Keeping tabs on your ITM poker rate means you are exercising good record keeping and on top of your cash rate. It also means you can prudently forecast how many tournaments you will cash in next month based on the number you enter.  It shows you are serious about your tournament poker, keen to monitor and track your performance.

Restrictions of ITM

Calculating your ITM is great, but it is not an indication of how profitable you are. After all, you might cash most of the time but never make it past the 1st or 2nd level after cashing. This would mean you have a poor hourly and poor ROI. Tracking your ROI is far more beneficial than looking at your ITM. I recommend using both methods if you are a serious tournament poker player looking to improve.

How Do I Calculate ITM?

Very simple formula:
# Cashes/ # MTTS entered Multiplied by 100 = ITM Rate as %
E.G 10 cashes / 90 MTTs entered x 100 = 11% ITM Rate

What is a Good ITM Rate?

I think setting a target of 20-22% is challenging but realistic enough to shoot for. If you are consistently getting above this than you are doing very well. Most MTT experts accept 15 – 20% as a decent cash rate.  If you are recording significantly less than this, than you need to look at the MTTS you play and the strategy you employ.  

ITM Poker
20% is considered a strong ITM rate by professionals

How Can I Improve my ITM rate?

Picking the right moments to move your chips and a survival attitude will improve your cash rate. Our poker training video membership is almost exclusively based on tournaments. You can watch tournaments played by an expert who has hundreds of thousands in online earnings, including a Sunday Million final table. You can become a member today for £49.99. Click below to pay for 12 months membership, that does not auto-renew. Once payment has been made, you will be sent your personal login details by email (within 24 hours).

Get unlimited access to every video we upload. Increase your ITM rate and start crushing poker tournaments today!


Having a good ITM poker rate is awesome but it’s important to remember that the goal when playing tournaments is to make as much money as possible. If you are adopting a nitty style that eeks you into the money a lot of the time but rarely a deep run or final table, then you need to rethink your strategy. Tournaments will always reward those who finish in the highest places. To achieve this, you have to take calculated risks, steal the blinds and build a decent stack. You need to be the player taking advantage of those that are trying to survive the next level of pay and not the one that is scared to bubble or not cash. We’re here to make money not double our buy in.

If you enjoyed this article, perhaps you’d like to read our Texas Hold’em Questions Excel Dashboard article? Do you have a dashboard yet? We produce monthly reporting to help you keep track of your winning, make more informed decisions and earn more money from poker.

Poker ROI – Are You Tracking Yours?

What was your ROI for tournaments last month? If you don’t know and don’t track, how do you know how you are doing? How are you monitoring your performance? 

What is Poker ROI?

ROI is the abbreviation for Return on Investment, the term used all over the world, particularly for investment and business purposes but also amongst serious tournament poker players. It is a way to track results and understand how you are performing. It can also be used to judge whether a particular game or format is appropriate for you, whether it’s even worth playing.

How is Poker ROI Calculated?

Working out your return on investment is very easy. All you have to do is divide your overall profits/earnings by the amount you spent and multiply by 100 to give you the %.  Please note that profits mean the amount above the buy in e.g. if you buy in for $100 and cash for $125, then your earnings or profit are $25.

ROI Formula


ROI Example

Poker ROI

What ROI Should I Expect?

I don’t think there’s a universal target for poker ROI but obviously the higher, the better. Think of it this way, for each $1 you invest, how much do you hope to make from it? 30 cents, 40 cents? I think the key is to monitor and improve your ROI over time. It’s worth noting, that you need data and a decent sample size to draw interpret ROI. A sample size of 10 tournaments and a 500% ROI is unlikely to be sustainable. Data doesn’t lie and you need a decent amount before you can brag about having a massive ROI. 

How Should I Track ROI?

The best way to track tournament ROI is to record your results every time you play. I recommend recording it on an excel file, a column for date, spend and earnings. This can easily be converted to graphs or charts over time. The important thing is to make a habit of recording your results every time. After all, the information will only be as good as the data that is entered, so be honest and accurate and it will reveal amazing insights over time.


Tracking and monitoring performance is an important part of being a serious, winning poker player can’t be overlooked. You need to treat your time, effort and tournament playing as an investment and what you can expect to yield from it. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing poker in Bulgaria, USA or South Africa, its only by tracking your ROI, will you understand how you are performing, whether you are playing the right games and if it is time to move up stakes. You will also know how much money you can realistically make in the long run.

If you have any questions about poker ROI or advice on how to implement, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help.

Poker Bankroll Management

Going Broke

One of the most common reasons a poker player will go broke is exercising poor bankroll management skills. Many a strong, technical poker player will play the wrong stakes and with too few buy-ins and scratch their head after they lose their bankroll.

Size Matters

Proper poker bankroll management is understanding that the size of your bankroll dictates the games and stakes you should be playing. You may very well be able to beat a high stakes private game, but if it costs you your entire bankroll to sit in that game, clearly you shouldn’t. The reason is simple, poker has a large element of luck in the short term. By exercising poor bankroll management and playing with an insufficient number of buy ins, you are putting your bankroll at stake every time you play.

How Many Buy Ins?

There’s differing opinions on the number of buy-ins required for cash games and tournaments. It’s widely accepted amongst professionals that games involving higher chance require more buy ins e.g. playing turbo sit-n-go’s are very high variance due to the fact that blinds go up quickly and you are playing more all in before the flop poker.

The table below can be used as a guide for the minimum number of buy-ins you should have for different formats of No Limit Texas Holdem.

Game Format Minimum Buy Ins
No Limit Texas Holdem6 Max Cash Game 50
No Limit Texas Holdem Full Ring Cash Game 50
No Limit Texas Holdem 9 Player Sit-N-Go60
No Limit Texas Holdem 180 Player Sit-N-Go100
No Limit Texas Holdem Turbo Multi-Table Tournament (MTT)200
No Limit Texas Holdem Regular Multi-Table Tournament (MTT)100

If you often find yourself going broke and you’re playing with less than 50 buy ins in your bankroll, you need to think about moving down to a level that your bankroll can afford.

bankroll management
Photo by Mathieu Turle @nbmat

Poker Money & Personal Money

Another aspect of poker bankroll management is the ability to separate poker money from personal money. We all love withdrawing and using the money we win on luxuries and that’s great but not if it means restricting your ability to move up stakes or worse, move down. Why not implement a rule where you cash out 10% or 20% of winnings at the end of the month? Sound bankroll management means you are able to play you’re A game regularly without pressure. It is recognising that you are focused on the long term. It also means knowing the right time to move up and down stakes and finding the right level for you. There are players playing higher stakes than they should be and players too scared to move up. Recognising your skill level and reconciling this with your bankroll and the appropriate stakes is a skill in itself. Feel free to contact us if you want a consultation on this.


Poker bankroll management is a key element to being a long-term winning player. It’s importance can’t be understated. It mixes common sense with budgeting skills and self-awareness. Assess your poker bankroll management today and ensure you are properly equipped next time you play.

If you enjoyed this article perhaps you’d like to read our article poker excel spreadsheets?