Poker Bankroll Management Tips
By Bob Garcia
Here’s an unverifiable but undoubtedly true fact: poor bankroll management has ended more poker careers than every other factor combined.
In its most basic form, bankroll management is deciding how much money you are comfortable losing assuming a “worst case” scenario, and then setting guidelines for yourself about which limits you’ll play that will minimize the likelihood of that happening while still giving you the ability to move up in limits as you develop.
Let’s take a look at three key things to consider when it comes to proper bankroll management practices.
Have Enough Money
Having a bankroll that can handle the unavoidable swings of the game is nothing short of a must. At a minimum, you should have 50 buy-ins for your desired limit. Here’s what that looks like for some common limits.
Microstakes ($0.05/$0.10): $500.00
Low Stakes ($0.25/$0.50): $2,500.00
Mid Stakes ($2/$4): $20,000.00
High Stakes ($5/$10): $50,000.00
Use Stop Losses, Move Down When Necessary
If you’ve ever gone on tilt at the poker table and blown off way more money than you had intended, you’ve experienced the need for a stop-loss firsthand. By deciding on the number of buy-ins you are willing to lose in every session — and then sticking to it with ironclad dedication — you can protect your bankroll from catastrophic losses that may put you out of the game for good.
Speaking of losses, make sure that if you’re experiencing a bad run at the table, you make good bankroll management discipline and move down in limits once your bankroll only has 50 buy-ins remaining for that lower limit. This is the opposite of what most people do when they move up in limits to chase their losses, but it’s the only way to give yourself enough time to both develop your skills and outpace variance.
You can move back up in limits once you have 50 buy-ins for that level again.
Understand Poker Variance
Simply defined, variance is the natural ups and downs that every poker player experiences. These swings — the highs, the lows, the wins and losses we do and don’t deserve — are inherent in a game of chance and therefore should be expected. Every poker player will likely experience a bout of more variance — more bad beat, more kings into aces, more getting no good cards — than he or she ever imagined.
It is exactly in these stretches where most player “punt”, or give away unnecessarily, large portions of their bankrolls, often the entire thing. Instead, experienced players walk into the game with the expectation of variance, both good and bad. These players recognize that the only way to survive the swings is to control their risk profile by practicing good bankroll management and focusing on developing their skills.
Besides, the luck factor is a huge part of what makes poker fun! If you disagree, think of the thrill the last time you ended up winning a huge pot while having the worst of it! So instead of resisting variance, embrace it fully and dedicate yourself to using its lessons as opportunities to develop your emotional fortitude.
If you can do that, you’ll likely find yourself in the very small percentage of players who give themselves a real shot of success at the poker table.