Poker Bankroll Management

Poker bankroll management is without a doubt one of the biggest keys to successful players. Although there are exceptions to the rule, most online poker players who have sustained themselves by continuing to earn money and move up in stakes, have a very good poker bankroll management plan in place. Even the best players will hit downswings and experience long periods of break-even or losing stretches. If not for online poker bankroll management, they would either be broke or forced to continually re-load their bankroll.

There are a number of different ideas for bankroll management. It depends on many things including your style of play, the game, the stakes, your tilt factor, and even why you play. Of course, we all play to win, but some people play for the income while others try to win, but play more for fun. We will focus on those who are playing for keeps, not just for a good time. Whether you are using poker as a second income or as a main source of income, you need a bankroll management plan. We will also just focus on Hold’em cash game poker bankroll management.

Cash Game Hold’em Poker Bankroll Management

There are basically two types of cash games – limit games and no-limit games. We can lump pot-limit Hold’em games with no-limit, since they are similar in terms of bankroll management.

The minimums are:
20 buy-ins for no-limit Hold’em
300 big blinds for limit Hold’em

This bankroll management plan is good for lower limit, non-full-time players. And of course, this is the minimum and this is a fairly aggressive plan. Six-max players should increase the buy-in amount to at least 30. Once you get past about $50 NL, you should consider increasing the buy-in amount again. $100 NL and above will play much more difficultly and therefore you will likely have a lower win rate and possibly more variance.

No Limit Hold’em Bankroll Management Example

Let’s say Player starts with a deposit of $100. With this bankroll, he should be playing $5 NL. After a few weeks, things are going well and Player’s bankroll is up to $200. Now he can consider moving up to $10 NL with his 20 buy-ins. The next step at most online poker sites is $25 NL, which would require a bankroll of at least $500.

You should also be sure that a good portion of your bankroll increase is from actual winnings. Although online poker rakeback is an important part of the game nowadays, and many people make a living as “rakeback pros”, it is better for your game and your sanity, to have a fairly solid win rate before moving up.

Limit Hold’em Poker Money Management

Limit players can use a big blinds approach to the number of buy-ins. If you are playing $.25/$.50 limit Hold’em, then you should have at least $150 in your bankroll. This should account for the variance that comes along with playing limit Hold’em. As limit players know, inexperienced players love to call with most any draw and when things are not going well, they will sometimes hit their draws that they perhaps should have folded earlier. This is of course good for solid players in the long run, but can cause frustrating variance in the short term.

Moving Down

The most important step in utilizing a poker money management plan is to stick to your rules. Most people can stick to only moving up when their bankroll hits 20 buy-ins for the next level. It is definitely hard for some at first, but it is a clear goal that can be measured, so it works for most people. The most difficult thing for almost everyone is moving back down when things do not go well.

Moving down is a very important step. It takes a lot of discipline, but is necessary. There is not a person out there who has not experience negative variance while playing online poker. It is just part of the game, and an important part. Overcoming that through poker money management is what helps people move up regularly without making new deposits.

For no-limit Hold’em, using the 20 buy-in rule for moving up, you should implement a 15 buy-in rule for moving back down. So for instance, if you have built your bankroll up to $200 you may have just started playing $10 NL. Let’s say things do not go well, you hit a downswing and suddenly find your bankroll down to $150. The best thing to do here is to move back down to $5 NL until you can build it up again.

Sometimes it is just a bad swing and will turn around quickly. Sometimes, however, you just are not ready to move up. It takes guts to know when to move down before you totally decimate your poker bankroll.

You do not have to follow this poker money management plan. What is important is that you do create one that you can stick to. Those without a plan will find themselves constantly depositing money. On the other hand, if you can stick to a good bankroll management plan, you should never be forced to deposit money at a poker site again.