The Importance Of Bankroll Management In Poker

To be successful in poker, you have to cover a lot of areas. Playing well is hardly sufficient, because the nature of the game requires so much more. You will be at the receiving end of hard beats and freakishly unlucky streaks much more often than you expect. To handle them properly, you need to be prepared mentally, but also follow certain rules for bankroll management. It will allow you to breeze past through the bad moments and move on without going bankrupt. This article will give you some tips and help you build a system of bankroll management.

Bankroll Management In Poker

Bankroll Management In Poker

 What’s The Point Of Bankroll Management?

The simple answer is to protect you from losing all of your money. Even if you play well and put your money in the middle in good spots, that does not guarantee you the win. Sometimes the variation in poker will destroy you and you will end up on the losing end far too often. As you could imagine, this will reflect on your bankroll. If you’re not prepared to absorb such hits, you will end up busting.

Another important thing is that you won’t be playing with so called “scared money”. The term means you can’t afford to lose the money on the table and this affects your judgement. You can stay with a clear mind and make the best decisions. It’s something you should avoid at any cost.

Bankroll Management Basics

The first thing you need to understand is that bankroll management is usually based on the games you place and the buy-in. For example, if you play cash games at $0.25-0.50 and always sit on the table with a full stack of 100 big blinds, one buy-in would be $50. So, your bankroll management should be based on that number. For example, you should have a total of 50 buy-ins or $2,500. The same logic applies to tournament and SNG buy-ins. It’s a bit different in fixed limit games, where you determine the bankroll management based on the number of big bets.

When you’re done with that, you have to strictly follow the rules you have set. If we follow the $2,500 example and assume the lower level is $0.10-0.25 with a $25 buy-in, you should go playing there if you fall down to 50 buy-ins or $1,250. The same logic applies to tournaments, fixed limit games, and pretty much every other format.

How To Determine The Size Of Your Bankroll?

This is probably the most important questions and there are a bunch of aspects you should consider:

What’s the variation of the games you play?

The variation is a key factor and it’s different in the various poker formats out there. For example, regular speed SNGs have a much lower variation compared to hyper turbo SNGs. Tournaments with thousands of players are one of the worst in this regard, as you could play months without getting a good prize.

As you could expect, the larger the variation, the larger your bankroll should be. Simply put, you will have long losing streaks often and you should be able to handle them with ease. For example, if you are a tournament player, it’s a good idea to have at the very least 100 buy-ins for the level you play.

What’s your win rate?

Obviously, the variation is correlated to your win rate as well. If you’re crushing the levels it would be much lower compared to a player who’s break even and makes money from rakeback and other promotions. You should always take that into account when figuring out the proper bankroll size.

If you’re a proven winner and you’re playing in your comfort zone, you could be a bit more adventurous. In case you’re barely beating the level, you could expect more frequent and damaging losing streaks, so make sure to prepare for them.

Can you handle going down a level?

Going down a level when you hit a bad run is something many people don’t handle well. They lose motivation or feel like they’ve messed up, when it could simply be a bad run. This reflects their performance and snowballs from there. Sometimes they even can’t go down a level, believing it’s only a matter of time before their luck changes.

If you feel you’re in this particular group, you should either work hard on your mental state or go for a very conservative bankroll management. Ideally, you would do both.

How important is your bankroll?

There’s a significant difference between a pro player who basically makes a living thanks to his bankroll and someone having fun after work. In the latter scenario, you could easily deposit and start all over again.

If that’s the case, you could be looser with your bankroll and take more risks, as it won’t damage your life outside the poker table. However, poker pros don’t have that luxury. Their bankroll is a tool and they’re lost without it. If you are serious about playing and can’t afford to simply reload, you should be extra careful with your bankroll.

Taking Shots At Higher Levels

Trying your luck at higher levels is appealing and something that could bring you some great profits. Also, you could develop as a player and learn new tricks. However, it should be done in a way that doesn’t put at risk too much of your bankroll. Ideally, you would want to invest a chunk of your winnings to play at a higher level, instead of risking your predetermined capital. One of the few exceptions is to see some sweet table with donks you know well. In this case, you could take the risk. Whatever you do, don’t go too far up. One or max two levels above your usual buy-in is where you should be taking shots.


As you can see, bankroll management is of essential importance if you want to be successful in poker. Many articles on the Internet try to give you fixed numbers you should use, but that’s not always the best approach. That’s why we decided to list all the factors and leave it to you to find the right number. Be honest with yourself, because the wrong decision could lead to a bust.

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