If you’re looking to play poker in the long run, then you need to learn poker bankroll management. No matter how good you are, you’re going to run into variance and lose money. Bankroll management is what will keep you from going broke, and instead, knowing exactly when to drop down or move up in stakes
Most players have heard the standard 500 big bet rule for limit games and 40 buy-in rule for no limit cash games, tournaments, and sit&go’s. While this is definitely a great starting point, there’s so much more involved in poker bankroll management. You can’t have one bankroll management equation everyone, you need to define your own comfort points and work from there.
I’ll start with the basic definitions and theories and move towards the advanced and even controversial bankroll management techniques.
What is your poker bankroll?
Your poker bankroll is the sum of all the money you have set aside for poker. You have to look at it as a whole, so it doesn’t matter if you have $5,000 spread across 5 poker sites and a payment processor or just $5,000 in one.
You should always know exactly what your poker bankroll is because your bankroll will define what stakes you’re able to comfortably play. You can even take this idea one step further and chart your bankrolls growth on a daily basis.
If you don’t have a separate poker bankroll then do yourself a favor and make one! If you’re serious about poker, you need to be able to manage your poker bankroll on a day to day basis.
The basic rules of bankroll management
The short and sweet method for poker bankroll management is 500 big bets for limit cash games and 40 full buy-ins for no limit cash games and tournaments. A big bet in limit is the higher number when the stakes are listed, which is usually twice the big blind. A buy-in is either the tournament entry fee or usually 100 times the big blind in a NL game
When to drop down in stakes
The mistake a lot of people make is never dropping down in stakes. They’ll start with 500 big bets and then just play till they’re out of money. That’s not good! It’s really important to drop down a limit when your poker bankroll isn’t large enough. Don’t worry, you can always make that money back and move up again as a stronger player.
A good time to drop down is when you become about 30% under-bankrolled for the stakes you’re playing. So let’s say for example, you’re using the standard 40 buy-in bankroll for No Limit games. You just moved up to 1/2 NL stakes, but hit a terrible string of bad luck and lose 30 buy-ins over the course of a month. Yes, it can happen to the best of us.
Without bankroll management, you’d be left with 10 buy-ins – a $2,000 bankroll.
With bankroll management, you would have dropped down to .5/1NL after losing about 11 buy-ins, giving you a 58 buy-in bankroll at those stakes. Then after losing 19 more, you’d still be left with a 39 buy-ins, or a $4000 bankroll.
So without bankroll management, you’d be left with 75% of your money, sufficient enough funds to play .25/.50 NL. With bankroll management, you’d only have to drop down one limit to .50/1.00 NL.
If you happened to have lost 40 buy-ins then you would have gone broke without bankroll management, but still have a $3,000 bankroll to work your way back up. That’s much better then being broke and having to start over again from a new deposit!
Start low and work your way up
Many players assume that if they only had the money to play higher stakes poker games, they’d be able to earn a standard hourly rate there. This simply isn’t true. You’re not going to earn 25x your current hourly rate by moving from 1/2NL to 25/50NL. As you move up, the fish to shark ratio decreases and the games get tougher.
Starting low and working your way up ensures that you’re good enough to beat each limit. The experience you’ll gain while working your way through the limits will make you a much better player.
Conservative vs. Aggressive Bankroll Management
There’s two methods you can go with in terms of bankroll management and they both can work effectively. It just depend on your personality.
The conservative bankroll – 1000 Limit big bets or 100 No Limit buy-ins.
This favors the long-term poker players, especially the ones who are looking to avoid variance and earn a steady salary. With a deep bankroll you don’t have to worry as much about large downswings, because losing days should have little effect on the size of your bankroll.
The Aggressive bankroll – 250 Limit big bets or 20 No Limit buy-ins.
An aggressive poker bankroll favors the players who are looking to move up quick and see results. You have to understand though, that you’re going to hit a lot of variance and won’t always going to move straight to the top. With an aggressive bankroll, losses will have more of an impact and you’ll need to drop down any time you lose a few buy-ins. An aggressive bankroll is much harder to manage and it takes a really controlled player to know when they have to drop down to keep their bankroll intact.
The Standard Bankroll 500 limit big bets or 40 No Limit buy-ins.
This one has the best of both worlds and should be the method players use when first starting out. Daily wins and losses shouldn’t have a huge impact on your bankroll size, so you won’t drive yourself crazy with the swings, but it will be enough to see results.
Make a Chart
Once you decide on your ideal bankroll management method, make a bankroll management chart. Write down when you’re going to move up in stakes and how much you’d need to lose to drop back down. Keep the chart somewhere where you’ll always see it, so you can be sure that your poker bankroll never strays from it.
Fight the temptations
The concept of bankroll management is simple, but putting it into practice can be difficult. It’s easy to want to move up in stakes to try to win back your money after taking a hit, or to never drop down a limit, because it makes you feel like you’ve lost. But in time, not staying true to your bankroll will cause you to go broke, while the players who are using poker bankroll management will stay in the game, continue to get better, and grow their bankroll.
Now that you’ve learned how to manage your bankroll, sign up and let one of our online poker rooms match your deposit!