Bankroll Management

Bankroll Management is actually as important as knowing the odds, reading your opponents, and more important than being able to calculate Expected Value (EV).

Poker Bankroll Management

Poker Bankroll Management

Regardless of your skill at the game, bad beats will happen. Additionally some games have higher variance than others. There is an unwritten, but very accurate rule, which says you simply cannot win if you are playing with scared money.

There are some simple rules that can be used to manage and save your bankroll.

Your poker bankroll is just that your poker bankroll. You can’t use it for dinners, movies, video games or anything else. You can’t fund your bankroll with money that you need for rent or car repairs. It is just for playing poker.

The size of your bankroll determines the size of the games you can play.  Variance in no-limit is far greater than in limit therefore there is a substantial difference in the limits of the game.

Bankroll Highest Limit Highest NL
10-300 1/2 .25/.50
300-600 2/4 .50/1.00
600-1000 3/6 1/2
1000-3000 5/10 1/2
3000-5000 10/20 2/5

You should also note that with the 10-300 bankroll, you are looking at only one or two buy-ins, so you are far better off playing micro-stakes in limit or no-limit.  There is a major downside to micro-stakes games; the money doesn’t matter to most of the players.  This attitude causes players to play badly and increases the variance in the game.

If you are going to play tournament poker you should have at least 100 buy-ins and are better off with 500 to 1000 buy-ins.  The odds of cashing in tournament poker, assuming that all players are equally skilled which is a big assumption, is roughly 1 in 10. The variance in tournament poker is incredibly high.

When buying into a game, never commit more than 10% of your bankroll to any one game, 5% is even better. For limit games you want to have at least fifty big blinds.  Your buy-in for no-limit games should be close to the table maximum and at least 100 big blinds. This will give you not only room to maneuver but also enough chips to make meaningful and profitable bets when you catch a monster hand.

Building your bankroll is important for you to grow as a poker player. The larger your bankroll the higher stakes you can play and the more potential profit you can make.  You should set limits for your losses and goals for your wins.

In limit games you are looking for one a profit of one big bet per hour.  In no-limit, a profit of 25% or higher for a session is good. Yes, that makes you a grinder, but the majority of successful poker players in the world fit the grinder definition.

Setting a limit on your losses is subjective.  If you are playing badly and know it, losing even a quarter of your stack is reason enough to leave the table.  If you are playing well but still losing or are totally outmatched, stop before you lose enough to make yourself totally miserable.  There is no rule that you have to lose your entire stack in a game. You will often see players throw in their final chips with mediocre hands. Those same chips can be used profitably in another session. Chips saved spend just as well as chips earned.


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