Dara O’Kearney’s Tips To Boost Your Poker Bankroll

What does a poker pro have to say about upping your bankroll? We're welcoming Dara O'Kearney to the GO blog to offer his tips on boosting your bankroll — here are 5 tips for poker bankroll management.


Dara O’Kearney is a professional poker player known for his big online wins and poker coaching. O’Kearney claims the title of the biggest online winner in Ireland and the most cashed live player. He authors a regular free newsletter with tips to improve your poker game, and also runs the Chip Race, a popular poker podcast, and their corresponding Chip Race channel, where you can find hand reviews and sweat sessions.

Every day I get amateur poker players asking me for advice on how to improve their bankroll and I can’t really answer them as well as I would like, because it would require me to become their personal coach.

1. How Can You Improve Your Win Rate?

The truth about what you need to improve your win rate will be completely different from the next person. In terms of broad advice that is applicable to all players, I would probably say invest in a solver like PIOSolver. It’s the most robust effective way to improve at poker. However, I appreciate there is a huge barrier to entry for most players.

If you are a small stakes player a solver is likely expensive, if you are an amateur player they’re boring, and for a lot of people, there is a steep learning curve to them.

Instead, I can suggest what small stakes MTT players should do to get quick and sizable improvements to their bankroll. Spoiler warning: I’m afraid it includes putting some effort in.

2. What Should Players on Smaller Sites Do?

It’s understandable why a $5 MTT grinder would want to play at a huge site where they can play 1,000+ runner fields. Win one of those, and you instantly have a bankroll for bigger games.

However, I would advise against it for several reasons. I believe smaller poker rooms where the MTT fields are much closer to 50-300 are a much better place to boost your bankroll. They tend to be softer, precisely because they don’t attract tough grinders who are attracted by big prize pools.

The smaller sites are also usually tougher for grinders to multi-table, because the software is not as advanced, which is frustrating — but also makes the games softer.

Downswings are much less severe when you are playing 100 runner fields instead of 1,000 runner fields. In the big field MTTs you can sometimes go months without a meaningful result. If there are 1,000 runners on average you can expect, on average, to make the final table 1% of the time.

If there are 100 runners on average you can expect to make the final table 10% of the time. Most importantly, this means you get to practice every stage of an MTT more often. You will get much more bubble experience, more final table experience, and more heads-up experience.

This is better than waiting for a long time, then making a final table of a 1,000 runner event, where you may make an error down to inexperience.

cards being thrown on poker table

Want to boost your poker bankroll? Keep reading.

3. Wise Up & Study Common Spots

Most players prioritize the wrong things when they study poker, whether they’re playing at the table, online, or on their mobile. They either try and learn every stage like the 100BB deep stages, the middle stages, the bubble, the final table, and heads-up — Or, they pick out the biggest hands they played that won or cost them the most money: Aces vs Kings, bad beats, and so on.

It’s more effective to study the most frequent spots that come up, again and again, and again. Button vs Big Blind, 30 big blind stacks, single raised pot. Maybe also Button vs Small Blind, 3-bet pots. Big Blind vs Small Blind, limped pot, and so on.

These spots tend to be quite small pots so you might think they are a waste of time studying, but they will be the ones you play most often. They probably make up half the spots you find yourself in. It makes sense to try and master them, they will have a much bigger impact on your bottom line.

Master your ranges from each position, which hands to shove, minimum bet or fold, what boards favor your range, and so on. Study them so often that you don’t need to think about them at the tables, muscle memory kicks in. This will free up mental energy for the trickier spots you find yourself in.

Once you have a common spot mastered, move on to a new one. I highly recommend the DTO app if you want to drill down on study spots like this. If you subscribe to our Chip Race YouTube channel we will be doing some study sessions using the app in the near future.

4. Follow Poker Rooms & Sites on Social Media

This is a bit of a left-of-field suggestion but it is perfect for small-stakes players. In recent years online poker rooms have taken to doing MTT ticket giveaways on their Twitter and Facebook channels, instead of doing other forms of marketing.

Usually, it is just a case of having to retweet the giveaway post or answering an easy question. This really is one of those things that takes 30 seconds to do, carries no financial risk, and could lead to a ticket to an MTT you are not bankrolled for.

You can even do it with a ‘burner’ social media account if you don’t want to clog your friends’ timelines up with poker spam. It is also worth following the sponsored professionals of the sites who also often give away tickets. We do this at the Chip Race Twitter account where we regularly give away €10, €50, and €100 tickets for free.

5. Find Free Study Resources

The bad news is that premium coaching and solver technology is costly. The good news is that there is free poker strategy material out there now that is light years more helpful than the most expensive content that was available just four or five years ago.

Poker forums and Discord channels are a great way to study the game by sharing hands with better players. Be warned, this can be a rocky experience if you played a hand badly as manners tend to be in short supply, but if you learn well by being coached, this is a great way to do it.

Be careful and make sure the people you take advice from are beating the games and poker variations you want to get to. Twitch and YouTube are amazing resources, especially Twitch.

Here you can see professional poker players reveal their cards and strategy in real-time at the tables. It still astounds me that talented players like Kevin Martin give away so much information on themselves for free, but we are in the influencer era of poker so get it while the going is good.

Ready to play? Discover our favorite poker sites, or get familiar with poker odds and your chance to win.    

Dara O'Kearney

Dara O’Kearney is a professional poker player known for his big internet wins. O’Kearney has 8 Pocket Fives Triple Crown, a Super Tuesday, and SCOOP win to his name. Today, he is Ireland's biggest online winner with over $2.5 million lifetime profit, and the most cashed live player with 199 cashes, 70 final tables, and 8 wins in 17 different countries. He’s a coach, author of two #1 best-selling poker strategy books "Poker Satellite Strategy" and "PKO poker Strategy", and a popular blogger. He co-hosts the GPI Award-winning Chip Race Poker podcast, the Lock-In on YouTube, and he writes a free monthly newsletter on poker strategy. He has commentated for The Irish Poker Open, The Unibet Open, and the WSOP. Dara became a Unibet Ambassador in March 2017.

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