Bankroll Basics

For most players it is usually not a good idea to bring more money than you can afford to lose to a poker game. For the casual player, gambling is the most fun when you do not lose so much that you feel sick the next few days. In the case of the more serious poker player solid bankroll management is also extremely important and possibly the difference between successful and unsuccessful players.

There are a few different schools of thought for bankroll management though everyone agrees on a few simple standards. You should never sit with everything you have at a cash table or place your entire bankroll on the line in a single tournament as in the long run these are likely decisions that will leave you broke at the end of the day. However, some people will argue that different amounts are allowable as some people will argue you should never play with more than 10 percent of your bankroll in one session, while some would argue that you should never play with more than 5 percent. When you are looking at cash games typically the number of big bets is used in the calculation, for limit holdem you might want to have at least 300 of the big bets in your bankroll to play the game and in no limit holdem twenty of the maximum buy ins.

The logic behind both of these options is that when you are playing if you are concerned about the amount of money you have and cannot afford to lose it; you will not make as many good decisions that are needed to be a winner in a game of incomplete information. Likewise, if you bring too much money to the game and fall behind, you will be more likely to stay in a game that you do not have an edge in, in order to make that money back up. Both of these outcomes are bad for a player in the long run as they are now focusing on things outside of the game, instead of what is going on in the game.

A sound rule for bankroll management is this, bring a low enough portion of your bankroll to the game that you can focus solely on the game and not on the money that you have in front of you. The more cautious you are with your bankroll, the more capable you will be of riding out the downswings in variance that are a fundamental part of poker. No one is a winner on every single night at the table, but if you only bring a manageable portion of your bankroll to the game, you can ride out the nights when it’s just not meant for you.

Another aspect of bankroll management which is important is deciding when you should move up to higher stakes or move down to lower stakes from the game that you are playing. Typically you want to play in a game where you are getting the greatest edge but sometimes it is possible that this game will not make the most money in the long run. Most players are drawn to games where higher stakes are involved but it may not be best for you as the player to play in those games. If you find that you have been able to beat a game at a certain stakes for an extended period of time, and feel that you would be capable of handing the mental shift to a higher stakes game, then it might be time to give it a try.

It is important to make sure your bankroll can handle the potential that you will not fare well in the new game. Likewise, if you find that you are unsuccessful in a game it may be time to go down in stakes to a game that you can be profitable in. There is a bit of a stigma in the poker community about moving down in limits, but it is something that a responsible player will do as often as is needed to make sure they are playing with a stable bankroll. In summary, the bankroll you have determines the game that you should play in and quite possibly the level of play you will find in front of you. If you make smart decisions regarding your bankroll, you will set yourself up to be a more successful player.