Bankroll Management for Poker Players

Poker is a game that combines skill, strategy, and luck. It can be an exhilarating and profitable pastime for those who have mastered the intricacies of the game. However, in order to succeed in the long run, bankroll management is crucial. Properly managing your poker bankroll ensures that you can withstand the inevitable ups and downs, and gives you the best chance of coming out on top.

What is a Poker Bankroll?

Before diving into bankroll management, it’s important to understand what a poker bankroll is. Simply put, it refers to the amount of money that a poker player has set aside specifically for playing the game.

Managing this bankroll effectively involves calculating the optimal buy-in level for your games, setting realistic goals, and implementing a disciplined approach to not risking too much on any single hand or session.

Determining Your Bankroll Size

One of the first steps in bankroll management is determining the appropriate size for your bankroll. This will depend on various factors including your skill level, risk tolerance, and the types of games you play.

A commonly suggested rule of thumb is to have at least 20 times the buy-in for cash games or 100 times the buy-in for tournaments. For example, if you typically play cash games with a $100 buy-in, you should aim for a bankroll of at least $2,000. This provides a buffer for downswings and helps mitigate the risk of ruin.

Implementing Proper Bankroll Management

Once you have determined the appropriate size for your bankroll, it is essential to adhere to proper bankroll management principles to preserve and grow your funds. Here are some key strategies:

Set Limits and Stick to Them

One of the most important aspects of bankroll management is setting limits and sticking to them. Determine your maximum buy-in for each game type and do not exceed these limits, no matter how tempting it may be during a winning streak or after a bad beat.

Play Within Your Bankroll

It is crucial to only play at stakes that your bankroll can comfortably sustain. Even if you have a significant win, avoid the temptation to immediately move up in stakes. A common guideline is to play at a level where you have at least 50 buy-ins available.

Monitor Your Progress and Adjust if Necessary

Regularly monitor your bankroll and track your results. If you find yourself consistently losing or struggling to maintain your bankroll, reassess your strategy and consider moving down to lower stakes until you regain your confidence and improve your performance.

Manage Tilt and Emotional Decisions

Tilt is a term used to describe players making irrational decisions due to frustration or anger. It is crucial to manage tilt effectively, as it can have a devastating impact on your bankroll. Take breaks, practice mindfulness, and avoid chasing losses. Maintain a calm and disciplined mindset.

The Importance of Bankroll Management

Proper bankroll management is crucial for several reasons:

Protecting Your Funds

By following the principles of bankroll management, you protect your funds and reduce the risk of going broke. Poker, like any gambling endeavor, involves variance and luck. It is essential to have a safety net to absorb losses and withstand downswings.

Minimizing Emotional Swings

When you have an adequate bankroll, you have the psychological freedom to focus on making correct decisions without being overly worried about individual wins or losses. This minimizes emotional swings and allows you to play your best game consistently.

Improving Decision-Making

By managing your bankroll properly, you can focus on long-term goals and make rational decisions. When playing within your bankroll, you can make calculated risks and avoid desperate moves that could lead to major losses.


Bankroll management is a critical skill for poker players. It ensures the longevity of your poker career and maximizes your chances of success. By adhering to proper bankroll management principles, setting limits, and playing within your means, you create a solid foundation for your poker journey. So remember, establish your bankroll, implement careful management strategies, and play smart to reap the rewards of this thrilling and strategic game.