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Poker Bankroll Management Strategy (May 2024)

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A Guide to Bankroll Management in Poker

Though poker may be a simple game to learn, it can take ages for players to master it and make money playing at online poker rooms. Winning streaks or big wins can secure a lot of money for talented players, but this money can be lost very quickly too, if players do not plan ahead and make a bankroll. There is no”right way” to manage your bankroll, as this depends on how regularly you play, how much you can afford to spend, how much you are aiming to make and how you play. What types of games you enter also makes a big difference, as some players may opt for short sessions at single tables, others may play multiple tables at a time, and others may even participate in tournaments that can last for days.

What is Bankroll Management

A bankroll is basically how much money you plan to spend playing poker. You can plan monthly bankrolls, weekly or daily, depending on how often you are going to play poker. It is just as important to keep track of your winnings as your losings because this way you can try to work on a system that will bring you money in the long run. Your ideal bankroll and system should play to your strengths and you should also be mindful about what limits, types of games and length of gaming sessions you feel comfortable with.

Define Your Poker Playing Style

If you are new to online poker then it is not easy to say what type of gaming suits your budgetary needs. Though it may be far easier for an experienced player to work out a bankroll, it is not impossible for newcomers to set up a system. As your skills grow and you feel more confident, you can always change your bankroll to suit your style as it develops.

Gaming Frequency

For some, online poker is a regular weekend programme, where they will play exciting games during those free hours on Saturday or Sunday when they feel relaxed. Others may opt for a more regular regimen, playing for several hours every day. For these players, it is essential to form a system. Others who may play less frequently, such as once a month, may not require such a strict bankroll. They should still manage how much they spend and try not to blow all their extra funds on those sessions, but this can be managed much easier. Keeping track of how much is won and lost is crucial to keeping a bankroll. For regular gamers, there are tools and software that can help them log their winnings and losings.

Types of Game

The type of game will play a big role in determining a bankroll. Single gaming sessions, or cash games, usually have a lower variance, meaning the player can use smaller bankrolls. Large tournaments have a far larger variance than cash games as they can move much faster and the pot and betting size can increase dramatically. The cash prizes will also swell up, as the tournament progresses. In speed tournaments or any special type of poker competition with faster rounds, the variance is extremely high, and players must keep a close eye on their bankroll.

The Stakes

At any online poker session, the stakes are always indicated by a buy-in or the big and small blind. For cash game players, generally, there is no formal buy-in. Players can come into a session with as much money as they like and leave whenever they want to. There can be a massive difference between two cash games with the same buy-in. In tournaments, the games are generally more regulated, with strict buy-ins and usually players will not be able to buy in again if they lose all their starting money. When looking at cash games, the difference between smaller or larger buy-in games is not always linear. Playing at $100 games does not require a ten times larger bankroll than $10 cash games.

Measuring Wins

The return on investment, or ROI, is the rate of how much profit a player makes over a fixed amount of hands or per tournament. Cash game players can calculate their ROI over the course of 100 hands, and for tournament players, this is how much they win in the tournaments that they play regularly. To get the best idea of how much your ROI is, you should keep a log of your winnings and try to organise consistent sessions. It does not really help if you win big and then do not play for a month, as it will throw you off your rhythm. If you play both cash games and tournaments, then keep a separate log for winnings from either type of game.


One of the most important aspects of bankroll management is to determine your comfort level. You may find the sessions much easier at lower-stake cash games but have difficulty when making the transition to a higher-stake game. For example, if you play $1/$2 cash games consistently and have trouble bringing over your good form into the $2/4 stake bracket. This is nothing to be worried about, you may just need more time before attempting to up your game. If you do not feel comfortable playing in those higher stakes, then you should only play them occasionally, and try to ease your way into them. To improve, you will need to eventually switch to the higher stake, but this can be done in small increments rather than jumping straight in. Otherwise, you may feel overstressed and burn through your hard-earned winnings.

Starting Bankroll for Cash Games

Generally, cash game players should pick staked games where they can afford approximately from 20 to 50 buy-ins. This gives them ample gaming time in which they can win and build their bankroll.

  • $2 buy-in with $0.01/$0.02 blinds: bankroll of $40 to $100
  • $5 buy-in with $0.02/$0.05 blinds: bankroll of $100 to $250
  • $10 buy-in with $0.05/$0.10 blinds: bankroll of $200 to $500
  • $25 buy-in with $0.10/$0.25 blinds: bankroll of $500 to $1,250
  • $50 buy-in with $0.25/$0.50 blinds: bankroll of $1,000 to $2,500
  • $100 buy-in with $0.50/$1 blinds: bankroll of $2,000 to $,5000
  • $200 buy-in with $1/$2 blinds: bankroll of $4,000 to $10,000
  • $500 buy-in with $2/$5 blinds: bankroll of $10,00 to $25,000
  • $1,000 buy-in with $5/$10 blinds: bankroll of $20,000 to $50,000
  • $2,000 buy-in with $10/$20 blinds: bankroll of $40,000 to $100,000
  • $5,000 buy-in with $25/$50 blinds: bankroll of $100,000 to $200,000

A mere few cents in the blinds can drastically change the size of the recommended bankroll. Some players may opt to play for the lowest stakes, which is a good strategy for beginners. However, if you are planning to make money from poker, then you should go for bigger stakes. Remember, whilst you are trying to make money out of your gaming, improving your game is priceless. The better and more confident you get, the stronger chance you have of breaking into the higher category stakes. The best method is to aim for the largest recommended stakes within your bankroll. If you have some money to spare, you can try a shot at the bigger stakes. For example, a player with a budget of $400 can put aside $300 for $10 cash games and $100 for 4 $25 buy-ins.

Starting Bankroll for Tournaments

Tournaments have a much higher variance, and so the bankroll should be planned accordingly. Generally, your bankroll should be fifty times larger than the buy-in of the tournament. This will keep your feet firmly on the ground and also give you the chance to play at more tournaments.

  • $0.10 buy-in: bankroll of $5
  • $0.50 buy-in: bankroll of $25
  • $1 buy-in: bankroll of $50
  • $3 buy-in: bankroll of $150
  • $5 buy-in: bankroll of $250
  • $10 buy-in: bankroll of $500
  • $15 buy-in: bankroll of $750
  • $20 buy-in: bankroll of $1,000
  • $30 buy-in: bankroll of $1,500
  • $50 buy-in: bankroll of $2,500
  • $100 buy-in: bankroll of $5,000
  • $200 buy-in: bankroll of $10,000
  • $500 buy-in: bankroll of $25,000

The total buy-in should include the rebuys and extra cash that you will need to pump into the tournament. This is extremely important, as chasing a tournament and throwing in more cash may tip the balance of your bankroll. Calculating your winnings also becomes more tricky after you have spent more cash staying in the tournament. However, it is easier to keep track of your winnings at tournaments than it is at cash games. The prizes may be significantly larger, but you have to remember that you cannot jump in or leave whenever you feel like it.

Top Tips for Bankroll Management

Now that you have a grasp on budgets and stakes, you can start planning your sessions. Here are a few more tips to keep in mind.

Managing Expectations

You should never get carried away when playing poker online. This is especially dangerous when you are on a winning roll and feel like you can clean the whole table. You should not expect to win every single game either, and sometimes the losing streaks will feel like they are endless. Keep your head and stick to your game plan, and try to gauge how much money you can win from experience.

Know When to Quit

It is extremely tempting to start playing more aggressively and hold onto every hand when you are winning. If you have a big run of wins, then your best move may be to leave the table. If you keep on playing, there is a chance that you will lose all the money you have collected, and then you are back to square one. Playing every single hand is not good either, as your opponents will be quick to capitalise on this mistake. They can chip away at your winnings by cutting you short after the flop is dealt, and all those blinds will add up.

Make Goals for Each Session

At cash games, a good goal would be to make twice the buy-in and then quit. With this incentive, you will know when to pack it in, and your bankroll will increase. Goals do not only extend to winnings. If you are at a tournament and lose both your first and second buy-ins, it is probably not your night. You should avoid jumping back into games if you keep losing, as this will affect how you play. Keep the gaming sessions short and look to make your money, then move on.

Aim for Bigger Stakes

If your budget allows you to play some bigger stake games, go for them. The opposition may be a bit tougher, but it is good practice for when you want to eventually play these games more frequently. However, you should always approach these games on top of your game. If you are on a losing streak, playing at a more competitive level can lose you even more money.


There are tonnes of opportunities to play poker online, for players of all budgets. It does not matter whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, as you will have no shortage of games to pick from. Managing your bankroll will become far easier once you have established a regular gaming regimen. Hopefully, you should start to see patterns in your winnings and can target the games that are more profitable to you.

Before forming a bankroll, you must clearly set aside your poker money from your actual savings. There is no guarantee that you will make money playing poker, so you should never play with money that you cannot afford to lose. The goal of the game is to have fun, and if you can make some money then it is even more thrilling. Your bankroll should grow over time, but you should never force it or put added pressure on yourself, as it is a game of chance and anything can happen.

If you find yourself unable to resist the game, then it might be signs that you need to take an extended break.

Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.