BBZ streamer and student Conor O’Driscoll had been staked by BBZ Poker for most of his career, but after enjoying some big scores, he decided to go it alone.
Then the inevitable downswings kicked in.
“Downswings are scarier when it’s your own money,” he says. “So I needed to get some discipline into my game.”
O’Driscoll and two of his fellow PaddyPower ambassadors decided to begin a $2K to $20K bankroll challenge that would keep them accountable. “I felt that if I did this challenge it would level out and give some discipline to my game selection,” says O’Driscoll.
TIP: If you’re not sure which tournaments you should be playing, check out our article: Game selection in poker: how to decide which tournaments to play
The rules were simple: they couldn’t play any tournaments where the buy-in was more than 1% of the bankroll. So when starting with $2K, the biggest buy-in he could play was $22.
These stakes are far lower than what O’Driscoll is used to, but a challenge is a challenge and he set out a strict schedule for himself.
“I made a schedule because I also try to play 20-25 hours a week of live cash games,” he says. “Live cash games in London are really good. This schedule plans out my entire week: exercise, study, family time, streaming, online tournaments.”
As O’Driscoll had tons of experience playing these lower stakes, he opted for an aggressive bankroll management strategy.
“It all depends on your ability,” he says. “The 1% rule for me is aggressive. I would say that if you’re starting out with a $2K bankroll, my rules would be way too aggressive. I have experience so when I play those games I have a much bigger edge, y’know?”
For those of you hoping to turn your $2K bankroll into $20K and more, O’Driscoll suggests you stick with more conservative bankroll management: 200 buy-ins for regular speed MTTs, 400 buy-ins for turbos, 600 buy-ins for hypers.
TIP: As your bankroll gets bigger, it can be tempting to punt. Check out our article: Tournament tips: Adjusting to a bigger poker bankroll
That’s what Mark ‘MBen10’ Bennett–who was also taking on the challenge–was doing.
“The way he approached it is actually a better way for people starting out,” says O’Driscoll. “His graph will be a straight line compared to mine. I played the highest I was allowed to play by the rules, so I had downswings. I got up to $6K and ended up under $3K, then downswinged from $8K to $6K. His biggest downswing was just a few hundred.”
O’Driscoll was also playing big-field events, which naturally have more variance, whereas Bennett opted for small-field tournaments (“Glorified sit & gos, as he calls them.”)
The challenge started off slow for O’Driscoll. “I wasn’t happy a lot of the time with the way results were going. But then I won a $55 on ACR for $3K and I won the Big $82 on the same day. That was a big moment.”
It also meant his bankroll was now above $10K so he could start playing $109s again. “I was delighted with that. I could get back to the stakes I’d play if I wasn’t doing the challenge.”
All the while, O’Driscoll was playing live cash games and dabbling in live MTTs. “Some people thought I was losing EV by playing lower stakes throughout the challenge, but I was also playing higher live outside of the challenge.”
O’Driscoll recommends adding some live cash games to your poker schedule, if possible. “You just print,” he says. “You get the money printer out and just press how much you want. The variance compared with tournaments is divided by 10. You’re playing entire tables of recreational players for the most part. I like the social aspect of it too. I get to head out the door three times a week instead of staying in the apartment and rolling onto the computer.”
Midway through the challenge, he ended up finishing fifth in the £2K GUKPT Grand Final for £43,900, his biggest live cash to date. “That was obviously off the challenge, but it was a very cool thing to have happened midway through,” he says.
He ultimately completed the challenge after just 57 sessions.
After 57 sessions we have completed the $2,000-$20,000 bankroll challenge! still have table and will be having a beer to celebrate soon! pic.twitter.com/Q25sQm5fqJ
— Conor O’Driscoll (@hammemrs) February 12, 2022
“I just had one Sunday where I came third in the $109 Kickoff for $6K which got me up to $19K. Still, I was disappointed the next day as I came 10th in two other tournaments where had I finished fifth in one, I would have completed the challenge.”
He’d cross the finish line not long after.
“I came second in a tournament so I had the disappointment, but while I was playing heads-up I knew the challenge was complete. It was great.”
O’Driscoll is now planning a $10K to $100K challenge. “This one could take a couple of years,” he says.
To make sure he completes it, he’s now upping his study game.
“I’m going to have to put a lot more hours into studying than I did for this challenge,” he says. “I’m starting one-on-one coaching with Jon ‘luckyfish89’ Clark. So let’s say I’ll spend 1% of the bankroll every week on one-on-ones and do my own study work outside of that. I’ll be doing 5-6 hours of study and around 30 hours of streaming.
“But if I didn’t also play live cash that would be double!”
You can watch O’Driscoll’s next challenge on his Twitch channel.