Poker Bankroll Management – Comprehensive Guide for Your Games

Poker bankroll management is an unglamorous and often overlooked aspect of the game. However, aside from raw poker skill itself, every successful poker player needs exceptional bankroll management abilities and discipline to always stick to it.

Proper poker bankroll management can help propel you through the stakes and earn you a nice living as a poker player.

Likewise, not managing your bankroll correctly can prevent you from ever reaching your true poker potential, no matter how well you know the game.

But, there’s a lot more to think about than just how much money you need for the specific limit you’re playing.

If you’re looking to move up the ranks, you need a deep understanding of everything that plays into responsible poker bankroll management. And, in this article, we’ll cover all of it.

Best Tips About Handling Money in Poker

The Internet is filled with countless tips on how to manage your bankroll correctly, and if you’re not careful, you can easily end up following the wrong advice, which can be costly.

Poker-Bankroll

To help you out, we’ve drafted an extensive list of the best tips about how to handle your poker bankroll properly. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. Your Poker Bankroll is Your Investment 

Everyone needs to start somewhere. So, before you can grow your bankroll into something more substantial, you need a bankroll in the first place. To be successful at this, the best way to go about it is to think of your poker bankroll as your investment.

Much like investing in stocks or bonds, you’re setting aside a specific amount of money for potential future gains. The only difference is that you’re investing in your poker ability.

The most significant motive for such a practice is that you’ll be able to avoid having to continually reload your bankroll, so you’ll have to maintain discipline not to blow right through it.

Another important reason to look at it as an investment is that you’ll play more responsibly because you’ll value every decision you make.

2. Choose Your Games Carefully

If you’re already familiar with a particular poker format, it’s unwise to switch between different types of games too often. You’ve heard the saying: “Jack of all trades, master of none.” This perfectly applies to the game of poker.

Even from just watching the game, you can tell that players who specialize in a specific type of poker are very hard to beat.

Ideally, you want to be that player. Regardless of which type of game you like playing the most, i.e. Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or whatever else, you should stick to it until you’ve mastered it entirely.

3. Poker Bankroll is not Everyday Cash

We want to point out why you started setting aside money for your poker bankroll in the first place. It was to create a separate roll to be used only for the game and nothing else.

You should always keep your poker bankroll separated from the cash you spend on your everyday expenses.

When you’re not wasting your poker bankroll on non-poker-related things, you’ll notice just how quickly you can improve your game and move to higher stakes.

Even if you find yourself in a situation of having to withdraw money from your poker bankroll to sustain yourself, never take out more than you need.

4. Know When to Push Aggressively with Your Bankroll

Although the previous tip emphasizes the importance of careful and responsible bankroll management, there are some exceptions to the rule. The most important ones depend on who you’re playing the game against.

Managing-Poker-Bankroll

In other words, if you find yourself surrounded by weaker players and calling stations, you should be very aggressive in maximizing your returns in the long run.

Every time you notice that another player is throwing around his money when betting, you should do him a favor and try to share the load by taking away some of the cash he’s so generously tossing around.

5. There’s Nothing Wrong With Dropping the Stakes

As a poker player, there aren’t many things better than the feeling of moving up stakes and building up your bankroll. But, sometimes, the best decision is to take a step back and drop down in stakes.

Although this may seem detrimental, sometimes it’s the most cost-effective and prolific way to regain your confidence and get your A-game back so you can keep up with the high stakes competition.

If you encounter a terrible streak or feel that you’re losing the edge a bit, keep in mind that there’s nothing wrong with moving down for a bit.

Admitting you have to move down the stakes does require a bit of humility and setting your ego aside, but it’s for the best. You’ll only come out stronger and with more practice at the end of it.

What Influences How Big of a Bankroll you Need?

Building up the right bankroll isn’t just about “having enough money” as this is a reasonably subjective factor.

Like we highlighted above, it’s more about making sure you never exceed your limits while playing the game. In line with that, you should shape your bankroll based on several important aspects. These are:

The Stakes

The first and most obvious factor that plays a deciding role on how big your bankroll should be the stakes of the game you’re playing.

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Simply speaking, the higher the stakes, the larger the bankroll you’ll need. Sometimes the increase can be noticeably exponential, as moving up from lower to higher stakes games sometimes requires even a bigger bankroll than you might assume.

The Type of Game

The type of game you’re playing also significantly influences how big your poker bankroll should be. For example, suppose you’re participating in a poker tournament. In that case, you’ll encounter higher game variance and will need a larger bankroll than if you were playing a cash game, even if you’re playing the game at similar stakes.

Your Win Rate

The win rate is an aspect many poker newbies neglect when calculating their bankroll, but one you should always keep in mind.

You should always have a rough calculation of your return on investment whether you’re playing a tournament or a cash game.

When calculating your specific rate of winning, be careful not to overestimate your results as this will only be counterproductive and make sure to account for the effect of the rake.

Your Bankroll Management Preferences

Finally, it’s crucial to note that every poker player is different. Even if given the same poker bankroll, all of us will make unique bankroll management decisions, resulting in specific individual outcomes.

Bankroll-Poker-Management

Because of this, your bankroll should be significant enough to provide you with composure and comfort so you can excel in the game without any pressure.

Useful Bankroll Calculations for Different Poker Games

There’s a general rule that you should have a bankroll sizable enough to cover at least 20 buy-ins. However, many players nowadays consider this amount to be insufficient and are much closer to the number of 50 buy-ins.

Most players try to buy in for 2% to 5% of their entire bankroll. Some players even limit themselves by quitting if they lose more than 10% of their roll in a session.

But, there are many things to consider, and you can’t blindly apply these rules for every poker player across the board.

That’s why we’ll take a look at the most significant types of poker games separately to help you determine how large of a bankroll you need to have.

We’ll discuss the examples of how to use a poker bankroll calculator by using a bankroll of $1,000 for each particular type of game.

Depending on your financial capabilities and the betting info we’ll share with you below, you can easily scale your bets according to the size of your poker bankroll.

Poker Bankroll Management for Online Poker Games

So, you’ve managed to set aside a bankroll of $1,000 and want to jump right into some online poker on your favorite poker platform.

You also want to make most of it and keep conscious control of every bet you make. How would all of this look like for an online poker player who wants to keep their online poker bankroll management under tight control?

Firstly, it depends on whether you’ll opt for no-limit, limit, single-table, heads-up games, or any other specific type.

We’ll take no-limit games as an example because they are the most popular ones you can find online.

With a bankroll of $1,000, you can comfortably play any game ranging from $0.01/$0.02 to $0.25/$0.50. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to stay closer to the lower number of this range.

Poker Bankroll Management for Live Poker Games

Poker bankroll management can be tough when playing online, but when you try it live, you’ll realize that it comes with an additional set of challenges.

You’re not tucked comfortably tucked away behind a computer screen and don’t enjoy the convenience of having many real-time stats you can use when playing online.

Bankroll-Management-for-Live-Games

Plus, you don’t have the option of checking your betting and transaction history to determine how much you’ve won or lost.

Still, you can and should track your results as best you can while at the table. You can take notes of your results while still at the table or have a pre-made Excel sheet in which you can input results quickly after every hand.

So, with that in mind, and considering the previous example again, how should you manage your $1,000 bankroll when playing live poker games?

A simple rule of thumb is that you can bet the same amount as when playing poker online, just with a more careful approach and awareness of the environment you’re playing in.

In line with that, with a bankroll of $1,000, you can comfortably play no-limit cash games that offer buy-in limits between $20 and $50. Again, if you have a larger or smaller bankroll, you can simply scale this amount to find the sweet spot for your betting strategy.

Suppose you have a budget of just $100. You should then stick to games with a $2 to $5 buy-in maximum.

On the other hand, if you have a massive budget of $10,000, just move on to games with a buy-in of $200 to $500, and you’ll always play in a range most suitable for your bankroll.

What About Poker Bankroll Management for Tournaments?

Since tournaments come with a significantly higher variance than regular online and live poker cash games, you need a more substantial bankroll to stay on the grind.

Not only this, but you also have to be much more conservative than you would be in regular cash games.

For these reasons, you should have a bankroll that can back up at least 100 buy-ins in a tournament setting. More careful poker pros even go up to 200 or 300 buy-ins just to cover any prolonged losing streaks. This especially applies to multi-table tournaments (MTT’s) if you’re playing online.

In the context of our $1,000 bankroll management example, this means that you shouldn’t participate in any tournament that’s above $10. This is when it comes to MTT’s. If you’re looking to play sit-n-goes, you can play for $20 but shouldn’t go over this in any case.

Key Takeaways on Bankroll Management in Poker

There are a lot of things to account for when trying to keep your bankroll in check. It’s more than just managing your finances. It’s also about having the right mindset and running the bankroll in accordance with your skills and win rate.

If you want to progress your game to high-stakes poker, proper poker bankroll management is one of the essential skills you need in this game.

Ultimately, you’re the one forming your bankroll, and you should do it the way it suits you the best. Whether you decide to play live or online and set a bankroll that’s 20, 50, or 100 times your buy-in is entirely on you.

Whatever you decide, hopefully, the tips and advice we shared with you on this page will help you develop a more disciplined and sufficient poker bankroll that will allow you to maximize your success on the felt.

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