Poker Bankroll Management: All You Need To Know

Bankroll management is incredibly important for an aspiring poker player. If you don't know how to take care of your money, chances are, you'll blow it. To manage your bankroll properly you need to act smart.

There are many different view points when it comes to bankroll management for an aspiring poker player. What they all have in common is a theme around being able to weather bad variance and advocating dropping down limits when your bankroll drops below certain thresholds.

In this article, we will discuss a more conservative and safe approach to building your bankroll, which will ensure it’s nearly impossible to go broke and your wins will slowly, but surely, climb in the long run.

Multi-Table Tournament Bankroll Management Guidelines:

Depending on the field size of the average tournament you play, the amount of variance will increase dramatically. As a general rule of thumb, if the average field size is 500+ players, you’ll want at least 150 buy-ins to the tournament.

If you are playing the much larger tournaments (found mostly on pokerstars) of 1000+ players, you should have more than 300 buy-ins for these tournaments, as you will win them far less frequently.

Full-Ring Cash Games Bankroll Management Guidelines:

Full-Ring (9 or 10 max) cash games are the lowest variance game you will find, and as a result, will have the lowest bankroll requirements for each buy-in. We recommend at least 30 buy-ins to the stake you’re playing.

Short-Handed Cash Games Bankroll Management Guidelines:

Short-Handed (5 or 6 max) cash games are higher variance than full-ring games as you will be playing far more hands and be put in more marginal spots. As a result, we recommend you have at least 50 buy-ins to the stake you’re playing.

Other General Bankroll Management Guidelines:

The looser you play, the more buy-ins you’ll require at each stake (in particular, for cash games) as you will experience larger swings (both upwards and downwards).

The higher stakes you play, the less edge you’ll have on your competition. As a result, you have some wiggle room in terms of having less buy-ins at low stakes, but you’ll probably need more at high stakes, as you’ll be taking a lot more coinflips and trying to to make money off small edges vs huge edges at lower stakes.

Taking a shot vs Chasing Losses – there is a huge difference between taking a shot at a higher limit when your confidence is high and bankroll is flush and moving up stakes to “get your money back” from lower stakes. When you’ve lost money at your current stake, you must move DOWN, not up. Poker is a game where you make money slowly, don’t get impatient!

When to Cash Out:

Cashing out can be complicated, as you want to build your roll so you can play higher stakes and therefore, make more money – but you also have bills to pay. In general, you want to cash out the bare minimum you require in your bankroll building stages (eg lower stakes) to ensure you’re padded enough to move up.

When and if you go on tilt, for some players it might be a good idea to cash out your bankroll to protect it. Take a break, and give yourself that barrier to entry to you don’t dust off your whole roll while steaming.

Once you are established and consistently winning, consider having a bi-weekly or monthly cashout, and set a specific amount. Make it like a pay-cheque, and give yourself a raise when you move up stakes. You don’t want to cash out more because you had a great month, because you’ll likely need that padding for when you have a bad month.

Depending on your rakeback deal, you may also want to consider cashing out all of your rakeback and leaving your winnings online. Rakeback will be very consistent, and it is guaranteed, so it’s a safer bet to rely on to pay your bills.

Bankroll Management is a critical skill for any successful poker player. No matter how good you are, if you are not safe with your bankroll, you can find yourself broke really quickly!

Photo Credit: World Poker Tour | Flickr