Bankroll Management Guide

Bankroll management is a system of calculating how much money you should take to the tables when playing cash games of online poker, or what level of buy-in you should be playing at in Sit & Go or multitable poker tournaments.

The purpose of bankroll management is to prevent players taking too much money to a table and risking going bust during a bad session, or playing at a table where the risk of loss is meaningless – in which case it is likely that bad habits will develop.

However, the reason that we call this page a “guide” to bankroll management is because it should only be used as a guide rather than a hard and fast set of rules. Different players have different motives for playing online poker and different playing styles. Consequently the management of your own personal poker bankroll can be a little flexible depending on your goals.

How We Worked Out our Bankroll Management Guidelines

A buy-in for a cash game is the amount that you take to the table – rather than the blind level. For example, most online poker sites will allow you to buy-in to a No Limit or Pot Limit cash game with a maximum of 100 “Big Blinds” (In a Fixed Limit cash game, the maximum buy-in is likely to be 50 “Big Bets”). Therefore, 100 Big Blinds in a $0.10/$0.25 cash game equates to a $25.00 buy-in.

Our quick guide to bankroll management acknowledges that there is generally three types of player – the recreational player, the median player and the professional player – and calculates how much each should take to a table based on the maximum buy-in. We accept that there are areas between each of the player categories described above and that players might want to buy-into a table with less than the maximum amount.

In terms of bankroll management for Sit & Go games and multitable poker tournaments, we have indicated the maximum amount that should be invested in any particular game. When tournaments have re-buy and add-on formats, or are multi-entry events, you should adjust the amount accordingly for the maximum number of re-buys/entries you are going to allow yourself.

Recreational Players

A recreational player´s bankroll is usually modest and an amount which he or she can comfortably afford to lose. Consequently, a recreational player can be a little relaxed about their bankroll management, for although losing is not the aim, the loss of a couple of buy-ins should not hurt a lot.

If you are a recreational player, as a guide your bankroll should have enough cash in it to afford fifteen buy-ins if your game is no limit or pot limit, ten buy-ins for “dual pot” cash games (Omaha Hi Lo/7 Card Stud Hi Lo), 200 big bets for fixed limit cash games and twenty buy-ins for SNG/MTT tournaments.

Therefore, a recreational player with an account balance of $500.00 should set their filters in the poker site lobby for the following tables.

Recreational Player Bankroll = $500.00
Cash Games Dual Pot Games Fixed Limit Games Tournaments
$0.10/$0.25 $0.25/$0.50 $1.00/$2.00 max $25.00 buy-in

As you start to win money, and your bankroll grows, you can increase the stake level you are playing at and afford higher buy-ins. For example, a player with a starting bankroll of $500.00 has enjoyed some success and, with the increments of their first deposit bonus and/or cashback from the site´s rewards program, their bankroll is now up to $750.00. They can now afford 15 buy-ins at the next stake level ($0.25/0.50 for NL cash games) and enter tournaments with a buy-in up to $35.00.

If your bankroll goes the other way, you should reduce the stake levels at which you play (rather than buy-in to a cash game with a short stack) or make a further deposit into your poker account.

Median Players/New Players

Median players are often referred to as “grinders” and they make a small, regular income from playing online poker. A major loss would be difficult to replace, so median players need to be a little more careful with regard to what proportion of their bankrolls they take to the tables.

The same really applies to new players, who should take greater care when first venturing into the unknown for the first time. We don´t expect new poker players to bring five grand to poker site as indicated in the chart below, and new players can use the chart proportionately to determine their ideal buy-in range (for example, a new player with a bankroll of $500.00 should play in poker tournament with a maximum $10.00 buy-in).

If you are a new online poker player or fall into the “median” category, you should have twenty-five buy-ins for no limit/pot limit cash games, twenty buy-ins if “dual pot” cash games are your thing, 600 big bets for limit cash games and forty-five buy-ins for SNGs and MTTS.

Median Player Bankroll = $5,000.00
Cash Games Dual Pot Games Fixed Limit Games Tournaments
$1.00/$2.00 $1.00/$2.00 $2.50/$5.00 max $100.00 buy-in

Like recreational players, median players and new players should move up stake levels as their bankrolls increase and down stake levels after a series of unsuccessful sessions. The alternative is to keep topping up your bankroll; however, if you find yourself topping up a $5,000 bankroll frequently, you might want to take a good look at your game!

Professional Players

Even more caution is required by professional players, for whom a series of bad sessions could be financially devastating if they do not adhere to some form of bankroll management.

A professional player´s bankroll management may well be influenced by outside factors such as staking and sponsorship but, as a guide, if you want to become a professional poker player, you should have six months money behind you and a bankroll big enough to support forty-five buy-ins for no limit/pot limit cash games, thirty buy-ins for “dual pot” cash games, 550 big bets for limit cash games and sixty-five buy-ins for SNGs and MTTS.

Professional Player Bankroll = $50,000.00
Cash Games Dual Pot Games Fixed Limit Games Tournaments
$5.00/$10.00 $10.00/$20.00 $40.00/$80.00 max $750.00 buy-in

Bankroll Management Summary

As we said at the top of the page, bankroll management is a guide rather than a set of rules. Some players adhere to it more religiously than others, and some sites physically block a player from bringing more than a certain percentage of their bankroll to the tables. We have encountered players who have found a stake level at which they are comfortable (and at which the tables are beatable) and stayed there forever!

At the end of the day, it is each player´s individual circumstances that dictate how they manage their poker bankroll, but we hope the explanation of bankroll management and the bankroll management guidelines we have provided are of some benefit to you – and help you avoid losing your entire bankroll during your first session of real money online poker.