Articles by Annie Duke

Q & A With Annie Duke

If you consistently fold bad cards how do you keep everybody from dropping when you get better cards? If you check all the time you don’t make money!

I gather you are asking how you can get action on the hands you play when you play a very tight game, not playing very many starting hands. My answer is that you don’t need to do anything special to generate action until you get to very high limit games. People generally play their own cards when they play poker and most players don’t notice a thing about how anyone else is playing at the table. I am often very surprised when I get four-way action after not having played a pot in what seems like hours.

Most players look for any excuse to play. They don’t notice that you are a tight player. Just play your good starting hands and you will get plenty of action. Don’t worry about disguising your play.

After a night’s winnings what percentage of the winnings are you supposed to put in to your bankroll?

Well, this is a very difficult question to answer as it completely depends on what your goals are. If you have an adequate bankroll for the limit you are playing then you can pretty much pocket any winnings you might make for the night. For example, if you are playing $3/6 and you have a bankroll of around $1,800-$3,000 than I would say have at your winnings. A bankroll within this range is totally adequate for a winning player and there would be no need to roll winnings back into you bankroll.

However, if your goal is to move up in limit then you would want to start supplementing in order to build your bankroll. Obviously, the faster you build your bankroll, the more money you stash each night, the faster you will get to that higher limit. It behooves you to stash as high a percentage as you can and still afford your daily lifestyle as the reason you would want to move up, presumably, is that you feel you can make more money per hour at the higher limit. So, to take our $3/6 example, if you wanted to move to $6/12 you would need to double your bankroll. The faster you can do this the better so only pocket as much of your winnings as you need to cover your nut in daily life.

If a winning player earns one big bet per hour in hold’em, common sense says s/he should have around 300 big bets for a comfortable bankroll. If this same player plays heads-up, what should his big bet bankroll be? Also, what would you say is a reasonable hourly rate?

This is a very interesting question with no easy answer as it completely depends on how good you are at heads-up play. Generally you need a larger bankroll to play heads-up, as it can be much “swingy-er.” A 10-20 heads-up game generally plays much bigger than a 10-20 ring game. So I would say you’d need at least twice the bankroll to withstand the swings. You should expect to make 2 big bets per hour if you are a decent heads-up player so you get the extra earnings for the extra bankroll. However, if you are a truly excellent heads-up player you actually need a smaller bankroll. This is because of the nature of heads-up play — you get to make many, many more decisions each hour of play so your edge is much greater if you are truly skilled at this type of play. An excellent heads up player is rarely going to have a losing hour because of all the opportunities he has to make good decisions and all the opportunities his opponent has to make bad ones. Because of this, a truly great heads up player actually needs a smaller bankroll than he would need to play a ring game. But there are few truly great heads-up players, I mean people capable of earning upwards of 4 big bets per hour. So for your average Joe who is a winning heads-up player I would say look for 2 bets per hour and try to double your bankroll as the swings will be bigger.

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