Modern Bankroll Management


Poker Bankroll ManagementWhile the topic of bankroll management has been covered widely over the duration of poker’s prominence, the current state of poker has required us to revisit some important principles. Since poker’s landscape has changed dramatically over the past two years, a more modern and applicable approach to managing money needs to be emphasized.

It’s not that many of the important concepts we learned on the subject are now irrelevant – instead modifying a few of the aspects would certainly help us in surviving the tough career that poker has become. It’s likely that if you’re a professional, you’ve already adjusted and tweaked some components to stay afloat. For the rest of us (and maybe even some lazy pros), we’re going to dive into the meat and potatoes of new bankroll management techniques so that we’ll stay ahead of the game, and more importantly ahead of our adversaries.

You may not be a pro, but if playing poker is important enough to you where you’re thinking of maintaining a steady bankroll, then this article was designed for you.

Guidelines EVERYONE Should Follow

If you’ve read many of the widely-available strategy articles online and in books about managing money in poker, you’ve probably been bombarded with different information. Unfortunately, because poker has evolved tremendously in the past year or two (or even five), many of those excerpts are outdated and don’t provide useful information in relation to the scope of the game today. Because of this, we’re going to try our best to provide an up-to-date analysis of how you should maintain and use your bankroll, so that you’ll rarely (if ever) be in a jam financially. After all, we all know downswings are inevitable. (Unless you’re Jason Mercier.)

Step #1: Figure Out What You’re Playing Poker For

If you’re the type of player who is in it for the gamble, or just playing recreationally, then having a big bankroll is probably not for you – in fact, it may not be feasible. Many players who sit down in various games understand this. They’ve worked their steady 9-to-5, enjoy the income and stability they have and occasionally like to play poker at night or on the weekends. For this purpose, their weekly or bi-weekly paycheck serves as more than enough to play. There’s no need for a bankroll. If they happen to be pretty savvy at understanding poker strategy, the time spent at the tables may even serve as a nice side income.

If you’re playing poker for fun and enjoyment, and also don’t mind winning a significant amount of money, then you’re probably in a good position. Stay there!

It’s when you decide to make the leap to playing a lot of hours on a weekly or monthly basis, or become a professional, that you need to spend a bit more time estimating how much money you’ll need, both to play poker continuously and to still live a stable, healthy life.

Step #2: Judging Your Bankroll’s Size

When poker becomes your main income, I always suggest that players keep a bankroll of at least 50 buy-ins to start. Depending on your skill level, you can adjust this number up or down. However, even if you are very talented, depending on your comfort level you may choose to keep a bigger bankroll just because it gives you greater piece of mind.

Note: As I mentioned earlier, with a significant increase in the competency of poker players, you may want to err on the side of caution and maintain a bankroll of as much as 100 BI’s, or even 125 BI’s.

While I personally believe that your skill level and edge over your opponents is the biggest criteria that should determine your bankroll’s magnitude, it isn’t the only criteria we should consider in terms of modern bankroll management. Because of an absence of online poker in the United States for over a year, many players who once played in that demographic have now become skillful live professionals; making an environment which was once laden with fishy and average regulars a niche now soiled with opponents who make your sessions difficult. This has never been more true than is it now, and we desperately need to take this information into consideration when designating our bankroll’s size.

We should be setting a specific number of buy-ins needed for our level and playing environment. With online poker players still being well ahead of most live pros in terms of talent, I wouldn’t recommend anything less than 120-150 BI’s if this will be your primary place of employment. While playing live has become tougher, you’ll still find many softer games and game selection isn’t as obligatory. For this setting, I believe that between 50 and 100 BI’s is more than enough.

But what if you’re bad? What if maybe an edge you once had over many of the players you play against has now diminished, or even worse, disappeared? In these situations it’s usually best to have an accurate sample size. For many of you, this may already be something you’ve been engrained to know and gauge with sensitivity. However, this is a topic that many of the previous bankroll management articles have omitted, or skimmed over. We’re going to try our best to dive deeper into the world of sample sizes, and how to use it to estimate our optimal bankroll size.

For those who don’t know, a sample size is simply referring to a duration of poker hands played; enough so that we’re able to accurately determine important characteristics about our skill level. When it comes to poker, having a large sample size is important because it allows us to find out things about our game. Win rate, hands per hour, and our edge over our opponents are all traits that we could see and use with a big enough sample size. Programs such as Poker Tracker and Hold’em Manager are great online tools for doing this; if you’re a live player you may want to look at downloading a cell phone app such as Poker Journal to keep track of your statistics and hours played.

An appropriate sample size for a live player would be a year or more of consistent play (at least 20-30 hours per week). If you play online, you’re necessary sample size should be between 100,000 to 200,000 hands, and some stringent professionals may even suggest more. However, if you’re a multi-table savant, it won’t take very long to accumulate 100K+ hands. What we’re basically getting at is that the more you know about yourself, the better off you’ll be in terms of understanding how you fair versus the rest of your peers. Knowing your rank should assist you in tailoring your bankroll requirements so that you’ll never be out of action, and unable to make money at the game we all love. If you see that after you’ve played 200K hands that you’re a significant winner at 200NL, this should be more than enough proof to say you’re a winning player and could make a run at going pro. Nothing truly trumps experience, so put in the hours at the felt and you should see significant monetary return, and minimize your losses.

Keep these poker tips in mind, and start playing some actual online poker mac so you can earn your big money. Try out US poker favorite, and CA poker as well as EU poker favorite,

Advice for the Professional

While we’ve covered many of the essentials, there are a few more bendable suggestions that we’ll offer to those who truly take the game seriously. There’s not for everyone, but those who do employ some of these tactics are the most successful, and never fear losing their bankroll or their edge against competition.

Tip #1: Build Your Money Slowly

At first glance, this seems like the worst advice you would ever want to give to a poker player. But we’re not talking in terms of your session winnings. There’s no sense in that! What we’re referring to is the amount of money you accumulate after your sessions are completed.

To clarify, what some of the best poker players do is closely keep track of their finances both for poker and their lives. It may have temporarily slipped your mind that while bankroll stability is critical, making sure that we’re economically secure is above all else. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that many of us (including myself) have decided to play poker not only because it’s what we adore, but also because it’s VERY lucrative and we enjoy the monetary reward and luxuries associated with it. However, this doesn’t give us a license to act frivolous. Instead, what some of the brightest and most intelligent players do is make sure that once they’ve accumulated enough money to handle their bills for the month, any extra may be treated as surplus if they wish. In this situation, we’re not in danger of missing rent or car payments because of our poker play (nor should we be anyway). We don’t have to be total “life nits” either, we can spend some of the money we’ve won on things for ourselves once everything else has been settled.

This leads to another good idea…

Tip #2: Save Your Money!

If you’ve played poker long enough, you should know that those big heaters and five- or even six-figure months don’t last forever. If we’re good enough, of course we’re going to have more winning days than losing ones. Nonetheless, it’s a smart idea to have a “nest egg” for when we do go on an epic downswing. Downswings begin to hurt both our pocket book and our confidence, and by having money saved we’ll maintain a bit of sanity and safety.

This may sound tough for some, but if you can save 3-4 months of monthly expenditures, you’ll be in prime position to have a healthy poker career and economic life. You’ll rarely need to tap into your poker bankroll for reasons other than poker, and in case you do get sick or get in a jam with your car or another emergency you’ll have an area to go to. Even if you don’t play poker for a living, this should probably be something you should do anyway! It just helps to know you have money available for other things!

Tip #3: Don’t Go Spending Your Winnings!

This is self-explanatory. I see so many players who win 4-6 BI’s in a session and then go spend their winnings on things unrelated to poker. Sure, if you have bills you need to pay, it can’t wait, and you have NO other resources from which to access money, go ahead. Otherwise, keep this money in your bankroll. It could be used to move up to higher stakes and make even more money!

Tip #4: Let’s Talk About “Taking Shots”

For many players this is a scary topic. But in poker’s modern age, I think it’s ultimately one of the most important. I saved this for last because I think it deserves a lot of attention, and there’s a bit to be said about taking shots at bigger limits – games that are typically much bigger than what your bankroll would allow.

In my personal opinion, and maybe some will disagree, but I believe that with how tough some of the games have become you should be taking LESS shots at bigger games. Yes, I said LESS. Reason is because if your bankroll allows you to play comfortably at a certain level, and you’re crushing, just wait until you’ve built up enough money to move to that level. Because of how tough some of the higher stakes games have become, losing 3-6 buy-ins at that level could be crippling to both your confidence and your bankroll.

By no means am I stating that you should never take a chance in a really good game. What I’m stating is that many players have taken bigger and more risks in the past, and that the probability of success has diminished greatly. If you don’t have the bankroll to play steadily, and you can afford to lose bigger buy-ins, then it’s feasible that this could be one of the best ways to build a bankroll. It’s the perfect scenario for that type of individual. You could run very hot — but just be aware that it will (and should) be much tougher to do so.

But if you do happen to run like Isildur, I’m sure we’ll all hear about it.

Keep these suggestions in mind, and you should be well-financed for both life and poker.

Good luck, and we hope to see you at the tables!

Keep these poker tips in mind, and start playing some actual online poker mac so you can earn your big money. Try out US poker favorite, and CA poker as well as EU poker favorite,


Comments are closed.