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Poker Bankroll Management

Even as a winning player, you will face a bad run now and then when the cards seem to be against you. The worst thing you can do is to play your entire bankroll. Even as the favourite each time at 90%, which is huge in poker, after 20 times you will have 9 chances out of 10 to lose everything. Your bankroll should therefore be able to absorb any bad shocks.

Furthermore, by betting a very large portion of your bankroll, you risk playing badly due to being stressed out by the stakes you are attempting to play.

For a cash game

According to your level and self-confidence, you should have:
At least 10 times (5 times for the very small limits) the maximum table buy-in for the limits at which you are playing – it is usually safer to maintain your cash bankroll at a least 20 times the maximum table buy-in for the limits you are playing.

For example: if you’re playing at a $0.50/$1 table, the maximum buy-in will be usually $100, so your minimum bankroll should be $1,000 and to be comfortable you should have $2,000.

Remember rake is between 1.5% - 3% of each pot. In all lobbies, average pot is shown.

For SnGs

At least 20 times the buy-in (10 times the amount if you’re playing at very low limits) and up to 50 times the amount for the higher buy-in tables. For example: in order to play SnGs of $5+$0.50 you should have at least $110 in your bankroll.

For tournaments: if you only play tournaments you should set aside 50 times the amount of the registration fee. If you play now and then, there’s no regulation since the cost is so low compared to the gains. Pay for them with cash games or SnGs.

Bankroll Strategy

Determining thresholds

You can now devise a strategy for going above or below your limits. In fact, when you attain a bankroll that permits you to have the minimum for the following level, you can move forward with confidence and certainty. For example: you have been playing at $0.10/0.20 for two months. You have gone from $400 to $1,000. You now have sufficient bankroll to go to the $0.25/$0.50 limits and enjoy playing at higher stakes.

You should also have put in place certain bankroll thresholds that will alert you to the necessity of going down a level, especially if you’ve just gone up. For example: you lose $200 on a $0.25/$0.50 and go back down to $800 of bankroll. Go quietly back to $0.10/$/0.20 to win the money back before trying the higher limits again.

Keep track of your bankroll’s development

The easiest way to do this is to create a small Excel file that allows you to note your results and your wins/losses. You can create one yourself or use very good ones that already exist. You can download a nice Excel file – just google a related term of e.g Poker Bankroll Management Excel file and you could get a downloadable file to work on.

Don’t try to recover your losses by changing your habits

As we have already mentioned, every player loses a bit of his bankroll in a bad turn. Whether in a SnG or a cash game, be absolutely sure to avoid the mistake of going up in limits to try and recover your losses. Even the most reasonable players have been tempted to do this at least once. Remember NEVER to do it. You may be lucky and recover your money in a few minutes and cold sweats, but in most cases it’s the quickest way to lose your entire bankroll. Never count on luck in poker. Leave that strategy to the losers.

Key things to remember

  • Choose your limit:
    100 times the BIG BLIND at a cash game and that should only be 10% MAXIMUM of your entire bankroll. For example you should have an absolute minimum bankroll of $1000 if you sit down at a 0.50c / $1 cash game.
    On average 20 times the full buy in for a SnG is comfortable
    MTT’s can be determined as to how many times you play them and for how much. Because of the variance of MTT’S, just follow your Tournament M and Tournament Q!
  • Expect changes in your bankroll and fix thresholds to climb above or below the limit.
  • Keep track of your bankroll with a gains/losses file.
  • Start over: NEVER EVER try to win back a loss by playing at higher limits.