Bankroll Management

What is Bankroll Management?

Reading about what is bankroll management is one of the most boring things you can do with your day, and consequently one of the most misunderstood concepts in poker. However, it is an extremely important concept to get to grips with if you do not want to bust your poker bankroll within 24 hours of depositing money into an online poker account.

The effective management of your poker bankroll places limits on what stakes you use to play games of poker on the Internet – limiting your losses when you have a bad session at the virtual tables. It can also be used as a measure of your success when your bankroll increases in size, and you are able to raise the stake limits at which you play poker on the Internet.

An Exact Science it Ain´t

Despite what you may read on other “well-meaning” poker advice sites, there is no exact science to determining what is bankroll management for an individual. How much money you bring to the tables is going to depend on your motive for playing Internet poker, the format of poker you are playing and the nature of your game.

Below, we address each of these criteria individually; but before you lose interest and click onto one of the more fascinating pages on, take a minute to compare bankroll management to pensions. Taking sensible precautions now will avoid you having to live in a skip and eat cat food for the rest of your life! (Maybe that is a bit over the top, but you know what we mean).

Why Are You Playing Internet Poker?

You motive for playing Internet poker is one of the most important factors to consider when determining what proportion of your bankroll you should take to the tables.

Recreational Players

Recreational players – who are more likely to deposit an amount they can comfortably afford to lose – can be a bit lax about how much they buy into a table for (a buy-in in cash game terms being equivalent to the maximum about allowed at a table – for example, 100BBs on a $0.10/$0.20 cash game equals a $20.00 buy-in)

As a guideline, if you are a recreational player, you should have roughly fifteen buy-ins for no limit/pot limit cash games, ten buy-ins for “dual pot” cash games (Omaha Hi Lo/7 Card Stud Hi Lo), 200 big bets for limit cash games and twenty buy-ins for Sit and Gos (SnGs) and multi table tournaments (MTTs).

Therefore, a recreational player with an account balance of $300.00 should head for the following tables.

Recreational Player Bankroll = $300.00
Cash Games Dual Pot Games Fixed Limit Games Tournaments
$0.10/$0.20 $0.10/$0.20 $0.50/$1.00 max $15.00 buy-in

As you start to win money, and your bankroll increases, you can increase the stake level you are playing at. Say, for example, you have enjoyed some success at the tables and with the increments of your first deposit bonus and/or cashback from your site´s VIP program, your bankroll is now up to $750.00. You can now afford 15 buy-ins at the next stake level ($0.25/0.50 for cash games), play higher-value dual pot games (also $0.25/$0.50), fixed limit games ($1.00/$2.00) and enter tournaments with a buy-in up to $35.00.

If your bankroll has gone the other way, you will have to lower the stake levels you are playing at or make a further deposit into your poker account.

Median Players

You should consider yourself a “median” player if you draw a minor income from playing Internet poker and if a major downswing would be difficult for you to replace. You will need to be a little more cautious with regard to what proportion of your poker bankroll you take to the tables.

Median bankroll management is also suitable for new real money poker players, who have only just made the transition from play money poker, and however you fall into the “median” category you should have twenty-five buy-ins for no limit/pot limit cash games, fifteen buy-ins for “dual pot” cash games, 400 big bets for limit cash games and forty-five buy-ins for SnGs and MTTS.

Median Player Bankroll = $3,000.00
Cash Games Dual Pot Games Fixed Limit Games Tournaments
$0.50/$1.00 $1.00/$2.00 $2.50/$5.00 max $50.00 buy-in

Like a recreational player, you should move up and down the stake levels as your bankroll increases or decreases – although if you find yourself topping up a $3,000 bankroll frequently, you might want to take a serious look at your game and maybe play at the lower stake levels for a while until a series of profitable sessions brings you back up to this level naturally.

Professional Players

If you are a professional online poker player, well you probably do not need our advice! However, for the sake of consistency, a major loss for a professional online poker player could be financially devastating and even more caution is required to avoid the consequences of a bad run.

What is bankroll management for a professional online poker player may well be influenced by outside factors such as sponsorship and staking but, as a guide, you should have a bankroll big enough to support forty-five buy-ins for no limit/pot limit cash games, thirty buy-ins for “dual pot” cash games, 550 big bets for limit cash games and sixty-five buy-ins for SnGs and MTTS before considering yourself a poker professional.

Professional Player Bankroll = $30,000.00
Cash Games Dual Pot Games Fixed Limit Games Tournaments
$3.00/$6.00 $5.00/$10.00 $25.00/$50.00 max $400.00 buy-in

Remember that the stake limits you play poker on the Internet at will increase as you win money at the tables, as first deposit poker bonuses are added to your account and as you take advantage of poker sites´ loyalty programs to extract added value from the site you choose to play at.

Account for Your Poker-Playing Nature

As mentioned earlier, managing your poker bankroll is not an exact science and the figures above should be adjusted to account for your poker-playing nature. If you are a tight player, who only plays premium hands from position, you might be able to increase the stake levels at which you play poker on the Internet, as your game is likely to be cautious anyway.

Looser players (and new players excited at the prospect of playing real money poker) should account for their poker-playing nature by selecting stake levels lower than what are suggested above. It is likely that you will encounter greater swings of fortune than the tight player, and keeping within safer limits will avoid having a nasty shock when you wake up the morning after a losing session.

The failure to understand what is bankroll management is one of the areas of poker that causes players to lose money more than any other. You simply have to accept that swings in poker are going to happen and, if you apply bankroll management to your game, you will avoid going broke in the long run.