50 Ways to Build a Bankroll

There must be at least fifty ways to build a bankroll, so why don’t I have one? This question began to bother me as I wandered the World Series of Poker in June, noting the vast number of people who had shelled out more than a grand for the big tournament of the day. It officially began to haunt me when I learned the $235 WSOP Deepstack was the recommended “cheap” tournament of the series and had to admit I couldn’t afford that. My entire bankroll for the trip was $200 and I’d already risked and lost a bit that morning in a super satellite.

The next night, I won a healthy stack in a cash game at the Aria which enabled me to leave Vegas with the hope I could build my bankroll on my own, but it didn’t last long. I had to spend half my winnings on some necessities I was too poor to purchase otherwise – clothes that fit my quickly dwindling figure and another jar of the luxury eye cream that keeps me aging as slowly as possible – which left me with only $400 for poker. I won a little bit here and there, but overall the second half of 2015 showed a trend of one step forward, two steps back.

I had been trying not to dwell on the fact that a healthy bankroll would help propel my writing career forward by lending me the ability to be an active member in the poker world, constantly exposed to real life characters who can provide inspiration for my novel in progress, when I came face to face with an unexpected challenge. One of the very handsome celebrities that make Santa Barbara their home came by the scooter shop and, after innocently asking how my day was going, ended up sticking around to discuss poker, which he learned I’d been up late playing the night before. Long story short, his final words were, “If you come up with $5,000, I’ll give you the other five and we’ll go play in the main event together.” I have never felt more motivated to build a bankroll in my life.

It was October 1st and I’m not sure how serious he was, but it got me thinking. It was the third time someone had offered to stake me despite the fact I have yet to score a truly big win to justify such offers. I might want to build my bankroll alone, but what if I don’t have to? What if there was someone out there that just wanted to make my life easier and bet on the little guy (or gal, in this case)? Just before I headed to Chumash to risk my final $60 in a tournament on my birthday two months later, I received a text message from the only man I could think of who might fit that bill.

Sherif didn’t know it was my birthday. He just knew I hadn’t been to the casino in months and wondered what I’d been up to. I didn’t want to tell him I’d thought of him at least once or twice, because it mostly revolved around the fact he was my first backer and the most likely to offer me a bankroll, so I just said I had been well and was on my way to the casino right then. Sherif didn’t enter the tournament, but he was there waiting for a seat at the $1-$2 table when my patience crumbled and I lost it all on pocket sixes. He offered to buy me in to the cash game, but I knew I was too grumpy to play well and declined. Of course, when I let it slip that it was my birthday, Sherif insisted I couldn’t go home. So, I let him take me to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants instead.

Pried open by two glasses of white wine and a decadent seafood pasta, I told my poker pal the highlights of my life outside the casino – my many jobs, my paltry budget, and my novel. As suspected, when Sherif learned a few of the many reasons I hadn’t been to the casino recently, he became inclined to rescue me further. He agreed that I couldn’t play my best game using my personal funds and offered to take me out to see what I could do under optimal conditions. “How much would you need?” he asked.

I let myself blurt out the honest answer: “You’ll never get a number out of me.” I wanted to give him one, but I hate asking for money. It’s like I told him – the poker experiences and my desired writing career are intertwined. I know I need a real bankroll to make that happen, but that doesn’t mean I’m capable of picking a number. Instead, I told him how much I normally play with and he offered to double it. I agreed, but said I wanted to face a real crowd. I want to play at Commerce.

He said he would take me to L.A. that Saturday to see what I could do when I’m not afraid to lose my money, but by the next day he was having second thoughts. He wanted to spend the night on the town as friends instead, “looking for appropriate romantic partners.” I said no. I took it as a sign that he only wants to be my backer if he gets to date me and that wasn’t exactly the deal I had in mind. I’m certain there must be at least fifty ways to build a bankroll. I hope to find my way in 2016.

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