Chasing Chris Ferguson

Current Bankroll: $0 - 1.9M Play Chips

This post outlines my rules for my version of the Chris Ferguson Challenge. To skip directly to the rules, click here.

I've been on a mission over the last couple weeks. Some call it the Chris Ferguson Challenge, but for me it's simply chasing a dream. Namely, the dream of becoming a Poker Pro. Since I don't have a large enough bank account to start my own poker bankroll, and I'm definitely not good enough yet to do it with a tiny bankroll like Chris did a while back starting with just $1, without busting out a hundred times first, I've decided that the only way to do it without risking any of my own hard-earned money is to do Chris Ferguson style and start with nothing.

But how do you turn $0 into a real bankroll? Many poker rooms have multiple daily freerolls in which you can go up against hundreds of other players for a chance to cash in a couple dollars. While I do try to take part in these freerolls as often as I can, I have decided to put my main focus instead on a different route.

Due to the crazy nature of these freerolls, it is really quite difficult to place anywhere near the bubble without a good amount of luck. My highest finish is 185th in a 2700 player tourney where the top 27 cash in. Fortunately FullTiltPoker has another freeroll option that has a much better game pace. Every night at 8:40PM EST, FTP hosts a 500k Play Chip No-Limit Hold Em tournament with a $40 real money cash pool, with the top 18 cashing in. There are usually around 35 players every night, and while the play is quite tight, it's not too tough to make the top 18 pretty consistently.

While it can take some time to build up your play chip stack from the 1K that you start with to the 500K needed to enter this tourney, once you get up into higher limits, it's not too hard to consistenly make 500K in play chips daily to keep up with your entry fees for this tourney.

It took me about a week to build my play chip stack up to 1M before I decided to take a shot at this 500K tourney. I've actually cashed in on it quite a few times already, but I still haven't managed to maintain my real money bankroll once on the other side.

As such I've decided to lay out the rules for myself in much more concrete terms to maximize my chances of moving out of bankruptcy danger, and to avoid getting back into danger once out.


  1. Can't buy-in to the 500K Play Chip $40 Freeroll at Full Tilt Poker unless I have at least 2M in the bank so that I'll still have 1.5M left to build it back up before the next night without risking dropping below the 1M mark which would force me down a level from the 1K/2K tables which are the perfect limit for making back my 500K quickly.

  2. Only buy-in to cash games for 1/5th or less of my total bankroll (buy-in is 100 times BB), and tournaments for %5 or less.

  3. If I haven't played a specific tournament level in more than 3 days, don't buy-in to that level until I've got enough for 5 tournaments in a row without being forced to level down. This makes it easier to overcome the variations in play when moving up in levels and to avoid losing unnecessary buy-ins by playing levels I'm not comfortable with yet without a chance to adjust to those levels before being forced to level down.

  4. Never break any of these rules under any circumstance. This may sound a little silly at first, but it is actually the most important one. Having the rules set out makes it much easier to maintain good discipline since it is so clear-cut what you have to do, but they are still worthless if they aren't followed to the teeth.

This basically means that whenever I reach the cash side I will be playing the $1 tourneys until I build up to $50. Last time I went bankrupt it was because I was losing more money at the cash tables than my tourney winnings could sustain, and despite doing quite well at the $1 45-player tourneys, even reaching up to $17.85 at one point, my poor cash-game play bankrupted me after two days in the green.

Now I'm back to zero with 1.9M play chips so I'm going to be focusing on building up my play chip stack and getting ready for tomorrow night's 500K freeroll. Hopefully I'll be taking another shot at the real money side after that.

I'll be posting updates whenever I play, which is almost every day, so stay tuned to follow along. I'll also be discussing different strategies in the games that I play, as I work out the intracacies of this complex game. I am far from being an expert yet, but hopefully by sharing my experiences on this blog, other people can learn from them as much as I can, and who knows, maybe one day I'll be staring Chris down after building a bankroll with his methods.

1 Comment:

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