Bankroll Management – Poker Strategy

Proper bankroll management is one of the most important concepts in poker if your aim is to become a profitable player. The term implies that you always stick to strict guidelines and play within your limits with regards to the amount of money in your poker account, whether you are playing cash games or tournaments/sit & go’s.

The reason why bankroll management is so important in poker, is due to the luck factor of the game. Even if you are the best poker player in the world and always get your money in with the best hand, there are still going to be times when you lose big pots, even though you were a favorite to win. Furthermore, every poker player will eventually hit a bad streak during which he might go for days or even weeks without playing a profitable session. The key to overcoming these ‘swings’, is to always play within the limits of your bankroll to avoid going broke.

One important thing to remember when it comes to bankroll management is the different guidelines for cash games and poker tournaments. When playing no-limit poker cash games, the general rule of thumb is to have 20 buy-ins for the limits you choose to play. For example, let’s say you’re playing stakes of $0.01/$0.02; a standard buy-in for this table would be $2 (100 x big blind), so in order to play at these tables you need a bankroll of at least $40. Once you get your bankroll up to $100 , you can move up to the $0.02/$0.05 tables. However, when things don’t go as well at the higher stakes, it is important to have the discipline to move back down to the lower stakes as soon as you fall under 15 table buy-ins, in this case $75.

When playing sit & go’s (1-table, 9-10 players), you should make sure to have a minimum of 40 buy-ins in your poker account. The reason why this number is higher than for cash games is because of the higher variance (due to increasing blind levels) you experience when playing tournaments. Often, these sit & go’s will only pay out the top 3 finishers, so it is not unlikely that you might have periods where you don’t cash for 10-20 sit & go’s in a row. This variance becomes even greater when playing multi-table tournaments (MTTs), because the more players there are in the field, the greater the luck factor of the game becomes. The general suggestion for MTTs is a minimum of 100 buy-ins, so, with a bankroll of $100, you should be sticking to $1 tournaments.