Managing Your Poker Bankroll

Having a good management of your bankroll in poker is an essential element to keep control over your finances and maximize your chances of becoming a winning player. Discover below a series of sound advice from Poker-Times.

What is a bankroll?

Let’s say you have a box. In it, you put a starting bet of $1,000 which will constitute your game capital. That is to say the amount you intend to devote to poker. Saturday night, you go to your friends for a frenzied game of poker. You withdraw from your box $100 which will constitute your budget for your poker evening. The evening is profitable for you and you go home with $300 in your pocket, a gain of $200. You put the entire amount back in your box. Your bankroll is now $1,200.

Managing your bankroll in poker

To understand the usefulness of good management of your bankroll, you have to take into account a phenomenon called variance. It won’t always be the best player who wins a game of poker, nor the worst who loses all the time. There is of course a large part of skill in poker, but also a luck factor that should not be overlooked. In the long term, the address will take over the bad luck. But in the short term, bad luck can take its toll.

It is not uncommon, including for more seasoned players, to align poor performance over a period of time by leaving sometimes losing 10 games in a row, sometimes 20 or more. This is called a downswing. The more you play, the more you will face this nasty variance.

The principle of managing your bankroll is quite simple. Never gamble more than a certain defined percentage of your available money so that you can bear your losses without putting your finances at risk. This percentage will also be defined according to the game you are going to play (cash game, sit n’go, MTT tournament) or your poker ambition (recreational, serious or professional player).

Is it a cash game game with a few friends (roughly 1 player out of 2 wins, or 50% chance of winning)? A Sit N’Go with 10 players where only the first 3 will be paid (3 out of 10 players leave as winners, so 30%)? Or an MTT tournament with 300 players of which only 30 will receive winnings (10% of paid players)?
Play within the limits you can afford

If you have decided to spend $100 on online poker and you register directly for $20 tournaments, your bankroll will quickly be zero and you will have to recharge your account.

What is your ideal bankroll size? A professional player will have an infinitely more rigorous and careful management than a knowledgeable amateur or a recreational player. The bankroll is the working tool of the professional. Whatever happens, he will never commit more than 1% of his bankroll.

The recreational player can afford less careful management in comparison and could commit up to 4% of his bankroll, that is to say, have 25 times the amount he intends to play at his disposal.

You will sometimes hear one or other of your friends complaining “Last night, I chatted to death and I tilted. I lost half my bankroll online. With good bankroll management, your friend would never have lost so much.

Stay in your comfort zone

By playing at the limits you are comfortable with, you will be able to play at your best. In many situations, you will have to make decisions that will make your session either a winner or a loser. To make these decisions, you must have a free mind. The pressure of the game is great enough, no need to add financial pressure.

Manage your poker bankroll according to the type of game

You go to a cash game night. It is important to set yourself a limit, for example three buy-ins, in order to control your losses… and stick to it. In the same way, it is also good to have a goal of gains. It is advisable for the recreational player to have 25 times the bet he intends to place during his game.

Let’s say the evening is nightmarish and he loses his 3 cellars. He will always have 22/25ths of his bankroll left, or 88%. Enough to spend other poker evenings. The professional will have 100 times the amount he intends to put on the table, i.e. 1%.

With the sit and go, you enter the poker tournament. The 10 players pay the entry price (buy-in) of the tournament constituting a prize pool. Only the first 3 will win part of this prize pool. They are said to be in the money (ITM, In The Money). The winner gets 50%, the second 30% and the third 20%. Others? They only have their eyes to cry. Similar to cash games, we recommend that the recreational player have 25 buy-ins available, 50 for the serious player and 100 for the professional.

Bankroll management in MTT Tournament

The prize pools of MTT tournaments are a dream. You can multiply your stake by 30, 50 or even 100. But MTT tournaments are also very risky, you can experience very long downswings. For this, even the recreational player will have to have a careful management of his bankroll. We recommend a bankroll of 100 buy-ins for the recreational player.

If you have a bankroll of $500, you shouldn’t register for MTT tournaments over $5, or you’ll soon be asked to top up your account. The serious player will have 200 buy-ins. The professional, who cannot afford big losses, will make sure to have 400 buy-ins available.

Bankroll management in MTT tournament with 2000 players and more

Some online poker rooms offer tournaments with fields of several thousand players. Winning one of these tournaments can clearly improve your daily life. However, there are many called and extremely few chosen. The variance is huge. You have to play for hours just to pay off your tournament, and there is no talk of significant winnings yet.

In general, you will have to leave 99.5% of the players behind you to start earning a really interesting gain. The road is long and full of pitfalls. To counter the variance, the recreational player will need to have 200 buy-ins in the crate, 400 for the serious poker player and 600 for the professional grinder.

In summary

After reading this article, you know the basics of managing your poker bankroll and not being broke. Don’t be discouraged, accept the variance. Bad luck is part of the game, and so is luck. Even if you play perfectly, you will experience periods of downswings. But on the other hand, you will also have periods of vain. If you stick to the recommendations above, you will be able to beat the variance. Your bankroll will thank you.

We suggest you read our 15 tips for a good start in poker or our 10 tips for becoming a better player to complete our explanations.

Keep calm, keep making the right decisions, and you will profit in the long run.

Have you managed to build a nice bankroll? How did you do? We invite you to mention it in the comments below.