When you first start playing poker as a hobby, you do not give much thought to the money you are using for your starting cash. This doesn’t mean you do not want to win, just that most people see the money as being used for entertainment. As you become more serious about the game and start playing more, you begin to understand the importance of what is known as a “bankroll.” Bankroll management has nothing to do with your strategy at the poker table but instead refers to how you manage your available finances.

A poker bankroll is a set amount of money that a player has designated specifically for playing poker. It is a good idea to have a fixed amount of money for this purpose, as this allows you to have control over your finances when playing the game without affecting your life or lifestyle.

Bankroll management is crucial for becoming a successful poker player. It is just as important as learning the rules of the game or the ranking of poker hands. Many players find bankroll management to be one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a great player.

Poker can be a volatile game as luck plays a role in determining the outcome of each hand. For this reason, it is necessary to maintain a healthy bankroll in order to keep playing when things aren’t going as planned. Establishing proper bankroll management principles is a critical skill for becoming a successful poker player.

Poker bankroll management is vital for several reasons. By using proper bankroll management techniques, you can ensure that you always have money left over for future poker sessions. This will help prevent inexperienced players from wasting all their money in one session.

Variance in poker is inevitable and can affect the amount of money you win or lose in any given game. In fact, variance is what makes poker a game of skill. However, having to constantly deposit more money into your account due to poor bankroll management can be a source of frustration and disappointment in the world of poker. By practicing good bankroll management, you can minimize this feeling and maintain control over your finances in the game.

The Basics of Poker Bankroll Management:

Before diving into tips and strategies for managing your poker bankroll, it’s important to note that this article assumes that you generally win when playing poker. However, the tips and strategies here can also be utilized by the losing players or when you are on a downswing to help manage your poker bankroll and help you not lose as much money.

With that in mind, here are some simple rules you can start using to effectively manage your poker bankroll:

  • Play with only the money that you can afford to lose. Never gamble with your rent or grocery money.
  • Treat your poker bankroll as an investment. As long as you keep on learning, although you will have ups and downs, your bankroll should keep growing. Do not take unnecessary risks.
  • Play at stakes that you can afford based on your skill level and bankroll size. Don’t be afraid to try stepping up the level when you believe you are ready but be ready to step back down.
  • You cannot beat variance, it is outside of your control. When your variance runs poorly, just accept that it will happen and move on to the next hand.
  • Select your games carefully, especially when you are just starting out. It is always safer to start small and move up than starting over your skill level and losing everything because you just weren’t ready.
  • Patience and discipline are the most reliable tools you have. Trust in them and yourself to watch your bankroll grow.
  • Keep track of every session you play. After each session, spend the time to review your hands and learn from any mistakes you may have made.
  • Don’t cash out unless you have to. The money in your bankroll is for poker.

By following these basic rules, you can begin to ensure that your bankroll is managed effectively and you will be able to continue playing the game for longer periods of time.

Managing your poker bankroll involves more than just depositing a set amount into your account. The size of your bankroll determines the level of games you can safely play. While many players aspire to play at higher stakes to win more money, some will choose to move down to lower stakes. To ensure a prolonged gaming experience and make the most of your bankroll, consider reducing your average buy-in.

By following proper bankroll management, you can avoid the risk of going broke. If you lose a set amount of money, move down to lower stakes. It is important to have sufficient buy-ins for your cash games or tournaments. Remember, playing at the lowest stakes is better than not being able to play at all.

The poker community has tried to define bankroll management and determine the required number of buy-ins to avoid ruin in each game format. Here are some standard bankroll recommendations:

  • Online NLH Cash Games: 100 buy-ins
  • Online MTTs: 250 buy-ins
  • Live Cash Games: 30 buy-ins
  • Single Table SNGs: 75 buy-ins
  • Heads Up SNGs: 30 buy-ins
  • Live Tournaments: 20 to 100 buy-ins

Final Thoughts 

No matter the type of poker game you choose, you should keep several things in mind. If you rely heavily on poker as a source of income, your bankroll should be larger. This will allow you to continue playing your preferred poker games without having to move to lower stakes if you suffer a few losing sessions.

If you are a professional poker player, or aspire to become one, you should treat your poker bankroll as a tool to make money, no different than how a car is an essential tool for a driver to do their job.

If you have a stable source of income outside of poker and do not aspire to be a professional player, you can be more relaxed with your bankroll. If your financial status is secure, you can take an occasional risk in higher variance games, after all, poker is primarily meant to be a form of entertainment.

Poor bankroll management can prevent even the most talented player from making a living in poker. Skill is crucial in the game, but bankroll management is just as important for any poker player who wants to take the game seriously.

Thank you for reading this article and good luck at the tables.

About the Author: Jackpot is a 28 year-old professional poker player from Iran. After studying computer programming, Jackpot made the jump to poker and now specializes in micro-stakes.