Bankroll management is almost as important as learning Texas Holdem poker rules or poker hands rankings when starting out. If you want to be a winner, this is not something you can take lightly and understanding the most important principles will help you reach success in any poker game. However, you have to take in consideration that you need to be a winning player to get the most out of this concept. Otherwise, bankroll management will not help you much, and you will be just bleeding money.
Therefore, if you feel that you should improve your strategy part, I encourage to read my article on how to learn poker and a few strategy tips to make sure you are on the right way.
Before analyzing specific numbers and buy-in amounts, you should understand how to maximize your chances to succeed with proper poker bankroll management. Therefore, we will start with a few fundamental rules.
Keep poker bankroll separated from everyday cash
Even if it does not look crucial – it is. It will help you to stay more focused and calm even when things are not going your way.
If you can keep money dedicated to poker apart from your daily balance, you will be one step ahead already. Knowing that you do not need to win to pay the bills, will give you all the time that you need and you can concentrate on what is vital – making the right decisions. Moreover, it will influence your life quality in general – you will be feeling better and have more confidence in yourself even on awful times when you are running bad, and that is what separates winners from the rest!
Do not withdraw money from your bankroll
It will help you build your bankroll without wasting money on unimportant things. In addition to this, you will be able to move up stakes much quicker as well.
Having an option to do that, will enable you to improve your game and learn much faster than you would otherwise. Moreover, you will be able to implement new strategies in your game at a much better pace because you will have more money to make that extra play. Therefore, if you have the opportunity to keep all your money in your poker bankroll – do that!
Of course, if you need that money to cover living expenses you will have to withdraw some. However, even if this is the case, do not take it too far and do not cash out more than you need. To be honest, you should have some strict rules about this and know in advance how much you need and plan accordingly. No matter which way you go, try to keep as much money as possible in your poker bankroll to move up the stakes!
Willingness to take aggressive shots
When you have these first two rules in place, we can move forward and see how willingness to take the risk will influence your poker bankroll management.
I want to say that there is no golden rule for this one. You should build a strategy based on your poker goals. Thus, if your goal is to learn as fast as possible and to move up stakes, you can be implementing a very aggressive bankroll management strategy. However, if you are just looking to build a steady income from the games that you already play, your approach will be quite contrary. If this is the case, you should be taking a very conservative approach to your poker bankroll management to prevent yourself from getting broke, in case you keep running poorly for an extended period.
Nonetheless, the most important factor here is your ability to reload if you accidentally lose all your money. If you have a fixed amount for poker and will not be able to add any more money if bad luck hits you, then do not take aggressive shots. But as we said, if you are looking to improve your game and have the option of reloading, you can play with fewer by-ins.
It is my strategy, and I do think that it gives a better opportunity to learn and even adds more excitement to the games. However, before implementing it, make sure you can handle the swings.
Your win rate and level of your competition
Hugely overlooked factor that you just need to understand. Obviously, your win rate will depend on the level of your opponents, so it is very connected and applies to all poker formats. You can get away with smaller bankroll if your competition is weak because you will experience smaller swings. I cannot sweat it enough, how important is to understand this topic, and highly recommend reading my article about poker variance to learn more. So obviously, when you are up against weak players, you can be very aggressive with your poker bankroll management.
Let us say you are a regular in NL100 cash games. You stick to 50 buy-in bankroll management strategy and have $5400 in your bankroll right now. However, you notice a huge fish in NL200 who is just spewing money around. Let us take an extreme example and say that he is open showing any two cards every single hand.
Does this mean that you cannot play with him, because you do not have 50 buy-ins, to follow your bankroll management strategy?
Obviously not! You should be willing to take the risk because this player will be losing money at a very fast pace and even if you are not better than other regulars in that game, you will surely be a winner in the long run having such a weak player in your field. Remember that it is critical to take into consideration the level of your competition when considering playing higher than normal or making a shot. Therefore, be willing to take calculated risks if the potential reward is worth it.
The first step you can take to minimize your risk is to build good preflop ranges, not to spew your stack with mediocre hands. For that, you can simply grab my poker hands cheat sheets and you will be starting off with the right foot.
Right poker bankroll management based on the format of the game
It could be a big mistake to think, that you can get away with the same bankroll management strategy for every poker game. Obviously, it is not the case, and you need different tactics depending on the format you play. Remember, to take all the tips listed above and adjust it to your strategy for the chosen game.
Bankroll management for multi-table tournaments (MTT)
One thing, which separates this game from the rest, is the size of the field. I am not talking about the number of players sitting at the table; instead, I am referring to total participants in any given tournament. If you are playing any other game, you will be facing the same amount of players almost all the time, and you can stick with a more fixed poker bankroll strategy. However, it is a bit different for MTT.
For tournaments, you need to take in consideration two things. Firstly, the size of the tournament and then your edge over the competition, commonly known as return on investment (ROI). To increase your win rate, I have prepared a poker tournament strategy article, so do not miss this one!
I am not going to give you a magic number, which fits all situations. However, you should know that for tournaments with a large field, you need a very conservative bankroll management strategy. You are very likely not to cash in these big events for an extended period, even if you are a winning player. Hence, you can encounter huge swings. Contrary, in smaller events, you can get away with a smaller bankroll as well.
Same goes with ROI. If you have a significant edge, you will not need huge poker bankroll because you will not be encountering dramatic swings and variance. However, if you are barely beating the games with 5% ROI, better not even think about playing without 100 buy-ins, and even that is on the conservative side.
If you know that you are likely to encounter weak competition in one of the tournaments, you can enter it, even if you do not have enough money, according to your poker bankroll management strategy. It goes vice versa if the field is really tough. If you still want to hear a number, I would say you should have at least 100 buy-ins for tournaments to be on a safer side and if you want to play seriously, adapt your strategy based on all the things we covered.
Poker bankroll management for cash games
It is a bit easier to build concrete bankroll management strategy for cash games because the win rate is the only thing you need to take in consideration. The most common stat to measure it is EV bb/100 (how many big blinds you win per hundred hands). Therefore, you can build an effective strategy for moving up stakes.