Bankroll Management Guide

Basics of Bankroll Management

Before you get too far into your new poker career, it’s essential that you have a basic understanding of managing your bankroll, or Bankroll Managment. One of the main attributes that separate amateur players and professional players apart is a better understanding of the basics of bankroll management.

Professional players wouldn’t have reached this point in their poker career if they had a total disregard for bankroll management, because if they did, they would eventually have gone broke, and would be unable to continue playing.

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Learning Bankroll Managment

Bankroll management basically entails regularly paying close attention to your bankroll to ensure that you have a sufficient number of buy-ins for the games you’re playing. It doesn’t matter that you are playing multi-table tournaments (MTT’s), sit-and-go’s (SNG’s), or cash games, the same fundamental bankroll management principles still apply.

You want to have a certain number of buy-ins to make sure that you are well funded for the games you play, so that you never find yourself in a situation where the game you’re playing is above over your head and out of your comfort zone.

Bankroll Requirements with Examples

When considering the proper bankroll you need, you should consider the following.

Your bankroll requirements will vary depending on your skill and the games you play. Higher variance games, especially larger field MTT’s, where luck plays a larger role, and the chances of winning the tournament are fairly slim, it wouldn’t be uncommon to go without a win or even making the money for an extended period of time. It really doesn’t matter if you’re the best tournament player in the world, due to the variance of the game, no player is immune to the wild swings of variance.

Multi-Table Tournament Bankrolls

It’s widely accepted that if you’re playing MTT’s, you should be playing with 100 buy-ins for the level that you play. So if you are playing $2 MTTs. With a $200 bankroll you would have 100 tournament buy-ins, which would be sufficient for this game, and getting busted out of the tournament would hardly put a dent into your bankroll.

Sit and Go Bankrolls

For SNG’s it’s a bit different. Although it would be common to lose 30 tournaments in a row when playing MTT’s, this would be incredibly uncommon in SNG’s. A good rule of thumb for SNG players is to have 50 buy-ins to play at a given SNG to cover the inevitable upswings and downswings.

Cash Game (Ring Game) Bankrolls

Ring games or cash games as they’re commonly referred to as, require even fewer buy-ins, with 30 buy-ins considered sufficient for most cash game players. The bankroll requirements for a cash game are less because they’re lower variance games, with the skill of the player a more deciding factor.

By always playing with an absolute bare minimum of buy-ins for any given game/limit, you’re giving yourself every possible chance to avoid losing your bankroll. If you allow yourself to play within your comfort zone, you tend to play well on a more consistent basis.

Sometimes playing well isn’t enough though. Due to the nature of the beast that is poker, there is an element of luck, and the best possible hand on the turn can get sucked out on the river. However, by implementing a simple stop loss method, will further help to manage your bankroll.

Implementing a Stop Loss

Implementing a stop/loss technique of say 2 buy-ins, forces you to just quit the game, if you happen to lose that much in any one session. The game is always going to be there whenever you want to play. This technique prevents you from chasing your losses and doing something stupid because you’re on tilt.

When you’re playing you’re A game regularly and you can prevent yourself from going on tilt, it will help you to build up a larger bankroll to play in bigger games where there is more money at stake to win. The thought of that may sound intimidating to novice players, but if you have confidence in your game, and you are sufficiently bankrolled to move up, why not, when it gives you the ability to win more money.

In terms of how aggressive you should be with your bankroll, something to keep in mind is your general level of play. I think that if you’re a new player who is still learning a lot about the game, it would be a better idea being more conservative with the number of buy-ins your bankroll can withstand.

When you’re learning the game, it’s inevitable that you will make some mistakes, and a larger bankroll will be able to support the hands you’ve misplayed, and you can consider these mistakes part of learning the game. When you’re playing in lower stakes games these mistakes aren’t very costly.

Final Tips and Thoughts on Bankroll Management

Playing with an aggressive bankroll will put you in a situation where each buy-in your playing with makes up a significant percentage of your bankroll. This is a recipe for disaster and will inevitable lead to going broke.

As a new player, the focus should be on the decisions your making in hands, and not the money you’re playing with. Taking hits to your bankroll is just part of playing poker. If you can’t deal with the bad luck that is bound to occur from time to time, then you shouldn’t be playing to start with.

Even good players experience bad periods where they can’t win a hand even if their life depended on it. But if you’re playing well, things will turn around, and the players who have a stronger mental game will be able to survive the bad periods in their career and battle on.