Bankroll Management


The main purpose of this site is to improve the game of poker players who has already some experience and skill in this game and to acquaint them with advanced strategies. However, one thing is very important to state – a good bankroll management is fundamental to the successful poker play and development.

I am sure that the most of you have heard or read about this, and maybe there are some among you who is successfully using this concept. However, I am also sure that the vast majority of you even though have heard about this, do not apply this concept in practice. This article is written for them. I know it from experience that the most of us can only understand the importance of bankroll management when our money is on the stake. So they loose serious sums of money till they learn to keep the rules. This is why I recommend reading this article carefully, because if you fully understand what I write here, it can save yourself from serious losses and can gain a huge edge.

I remember when I was a rookie player, I have read about the bankroll management but unfortunately I was not willing to apply it in practice. Probably it was associated with my youth, I was lack of enough discipline to keep the rules. Moreover I figured out a crazy idea that keeping the rules of bankroll management is only slowing and hampering my personal development and success. Today I realized, on the contrary, the lack of good bankroll management is the thing that limits your success in the long run.

poker Bankroll Management

These times I was playing at the highest stakes I could afford from my bankroll, of course I also had a minimal bankroll management, which meant that my highest buy-in amount was maximum the 20% of my bankroll, this includes cash games, SnGs, MTTs. This means 5 buy-in. So this way I was able to play in relatively high stakes games where I was quite good and I was able to evolve, too. But this 5 buy-in do not give any protection against the downswings and badbeats. For this reason I have lost my entire bankroll many times. And while I was trying to rebuild my bankroll, remained the great emptiness. I couldn’t play. And in poker you have to play a huge amount of hands in order to improve. The thing that really slowed my development was the lack of bankroll management and because of it there were a lot of empty periods when I couldn’t play. Till this day I know some very talented players who are simply unwilling or unable to apply the rules of bankroll management. I write this article to help you not to fall into the same trap.

Now, that I have written so much about the bankroll management, the question maybe arises in some of you why is the bankroll management so important? The answer is simple. Variance. In poker the variance plays a very important role which can be eliminated when we play a lot. But what is the variance anyways?

Consider a simple coin flip. There are two possible outcomes of this situation, each with 50% probability, heads or tails. Theoretically, if we toss the coin ten times, the outcome will be 5 heads and 5 tails. In practice, however, the real outcomes may differ significantly from the expected value. Might happen, for example, that no one will be heads, or seven times heads, and three times tails. But, if we toss this coin a thousand times, most likely the received value will be very close to the expected value. That’s why we need to play a lot in poker, to get rid of the role of variance. And that’s why we need the bankroll management, so when we loose a 50% situation ten times in a row, we do not run out of money.

The degree of variance in poker depends on several things:

  • The number of tables. The more tables you play, the bigger variance you face, and the more downswings you need to book.
  • BB/100. The bigger this value is, so the more profitable you play, the smaller the variance will be.
  • The ability to manage losses. The tendency to Tilt. The worse you handle your losses, and your badbeats, the bigger downswings you have to book.
  • The size of the stakes. The bigger the stakes are, the bigger the variance is. This is linked with the fact, that on higher stakes usually your BB/100 is lower.
  • The number of players. You play on Full or Short-handed tables. The less opponents you play with, the more swings you will face.
  • Your style. If you are a tight player, you can expect a lower variance, than the loose players.
  • In the case of MTTs (Multi-Table Tournaments), the more entrants, the bigger variance you can expect.

Choosing the most suitable bankroll management strategy for you, you should consider all these aspects. In fact, which one you choose is less important, than if you have selected the right one, keep strictly yourself to that, and don’t let anything to disturb you keeping your bankroll management.


Game type Pro Protected Less protected
NL Hold’em 40 buy-in 25 buy-in 15 buy-in
SnG 60 buy-in 45 buy-in 20 buy-in
MTT 150 buy-in 100 buy-in 40 buy-in


These are just normative numbers, and the real values should differ from this numbers upwards, especially after the consideration of the criteria listed above. If you playing on more the tables, then you should choose bigger values, and if you playing Heads-up games, then you should multiple these numbers.

At first, when you playing small stakes, and the replacement of your bankroll is not causing you big trouble, you can choose the less protected strategy, but as you go up, your strategy should be strengthened, because the most important thing in your further progression and success, is your bankroll. So don’t forget, that your money, your bankroll is your equipment in the poker, so protect it. You can be the best poker player in the world, if you don’t have a bankroll, it worth nothing. So be patient, and play only in games, that don’t hurt your bankroll. If you are a good player, then you can move up later anyway.

One more important thing, that on a specific limit determine two points when you move up, or move down, and you should strictly keep this rule. For example, on NL50 if your bankroll sinks under 1000$ (20 buy-in) then you move down to NL25, and if your bankroll reaches 4000$, than you move up to NL100. Keep waiting with the move up is of course not a problem, it won’t hurt you if you playing a little more on a limit that you can easily beat, so later you will be better and more confident on the higher stake. But if you fail to move down a limit when you should, that can easily be a fatal decision to your bankroll. So if you reach your move down limit, don’t even think about staying at the current stake. And the most important thing is never move up two limits. You always have to beat the current limit before you go higher.

I hope many of you enjoyed this article, and found it useful. Don’t forget, keeping the bankroll management at first may seem difficult for many people, and it needs a great discipline to keep it in any circumstances. You will find yourselves in situations that will put your discipline into a test, but it is very important to keep yourselves to the bankroll management, because on the long run it is the only viable option.