Success in poker depends on many factors. There are numerous important issues such as skills, luck, discipline and the willingness to work hard. However, one of the core factors of success is correct bankroll management. Poker players might be getting tired of this topic, but we cannot skip it! Poor bankroll management can totally devastate even a professional player. Therefore, we don’t see any reasons not to talk about this ABC of poker again.
First of all, we would like to make sure that everyone understands what a bankroll is. Well, we can count the whole of the poker money of a player as a bankroll. For instance, you hold $3000 on your account. The 3 grands would be your bankroll. At the same time it is extremely important to understand that you can include so-called free money in your bankroll. This means that your bankroll should not consist of money you need to pay bills, buy food etc. This is one of ABCs of poker. Poker must not interfere with your financial stability.
Why is it important to stick to this rule?
Basically, if a poker player fully depends on success in poker it might lead to a gambling addiction. This form of addiction is quite dangerous. We bet you have heard some terrible stories of addicted gamblers who sold their goods to continue playing poker or casino games. The path of a professional poker player mustn’t cross the path of an addicted gambler. Therefore, let’s state it again – you should never bet the money you need to buy something else. Just use the money you can afford losing playing poker.
Another important issue is psychology. When a poker player fully depends on possible winning he/she gets nervous, starts to make mistakes. Moreover, if a poker player is in nervous conditions he/she will struggle to make correct decisions. Thus, playing potential will decrease and a huge defeat may break a player.
How much money do you need to play poker?
Surely, many beginners are interested how much money do they need to play poker successfully. Well, there is no definite answer. What we mean here is that there is no absolute answer. The amount of money you need to play fully depends on the games you prefer. We would like to present you with a simple rule which is easiest to understand with the help of the following table:
Game Required Bankroll
Limit Holdem 400 BB
NL Holdem ring tables 25 buy-ins
S&G 45 buy-ins
МТТ 100 buy-ins
Let’s have a closer look at this table. So, let’s say you play Limit Holdem. In this case you need to have the amount of money which is equal to at least 400 big blinds. Therefore, if you play with the $0,50/$1 blinds, your bankroll has to be at least as big as $400.
For NL Holdem you should use the correlation between your bankroll and buy-ins, not blinds. For instance, if you prefer S&G with $10 buy-in, your bankroll has to be at least $450. Your bankroll should include rake as well. The more money you have the better is your situation. Our table represents only the minimal bankrolls required for particular games.
By the way, you can also use the simple formula of calculation of your bankroll size for NL Holdem games. Many professional players say that you should not use more than 5% of your bankroll to play a tourney or a ring game. Let’s say you have $1,000 and want to play a MTT. In a case like this your pick should be a MTT with $5 or less buy-ins. What’s more, don’t be surprised if experienced players would advise you to decrease your percentage to 3% or even 1%! Look for poker bonuses as well to inscrease your bankroll and make your money last longer!
Decreasing the Dependence on Luck
There is nothing strange or amazing in the figures we have provided. The explanation of bankroll management rules is simple. The more money you have the less important the role of luck becomes. In order to prove it let’s have a look at a theorem called Gambler’s Ruin. Let’s assume that two players bet against each other flipping coin or playing any other game with 50/50 chances of win. Player A has got infinite bankroll, his opponent holds limited bankroll. According to the theorem, Player B is doomed. Well, he might win 2, 3, 5, 10 or even 100 times in a row, but he will lose his money if our gamblers keep playing until one of them is defeated.
The situation you face in the poker world is similar. You have got limited budget and your opponents are thousands of people from around the globe. There is no doubt that their joint bankroll is much bigger than yours. If you would have played flipping coins with them you would lose everything. However, your poker skills and the willingness to work hard give you an edge. To put it in some perspective, it’s as if you were playing dice, but your digits were 1, 2, 3 and 4 instead of 1, 2 and 3. Therefore, you won’t play a 50/50 chances game. Nevertheless, you will never avoid defeats regardless of your poker skills and luck. Thus, any poker player who takes his game seriously should have what you could call an airbag – a certain amount of money to overcome the downswings. The tougher your airbag is, the better.
It should be noted that you can play poker with any amount of money. You can use the whole bankroll consisting of $215 to participate in Sunday Million conducted by PokerStars. In such a case you will depend on luck. Just remember that the results of a single tournament don’t mean anything. Any skilled player is able to beat a single tournament. However, it is much more difficult to be a player with a positive ROI. Thus, Ben Sulski can’t win every single day playing high stakes poker despite earning millions every year. Therefore, Sam Trickett doesn’t win every single tournament around the world despite being the number 2 player of the Top Money Winners List.
When to Change Limits?
Poker bankroll can increase and decrease. In order to maintain proper bankroll management the poker player should react in time. The correct response is changing limits according to the bankroll management table we have introduced. Let’s assume that a player prefers Sit&Go tournaments. This player has got $550 and he has started playing S&G with $10 buy-in. However, having lost several games his bankroll decreased to $400. In this case, our hero should not keep playing his $10 tourneys. Let’s divide $400 into 45 and we will have 8, 8. Therefore, he should switch to tournaments with ~$8, 5 buy-ins. Our player may come back to $10 tourneys as soon as his bankroll reaches previous heights.
Any player who wants to make money playing poker should always have a sufficient bankroll. Thus, you should not refuse to switch limits or even go down. Playing poker with unaffordable limits may result in losing the whole bankroll.
Tilt and Tilt Again!
Poker defeats are stressful. Losing money means that you should switch to lower limit games. However, sometimes you should also stop playing and take a break. What we are talking about is tilt. This is one of the main threats to every poker player. Even professional players are unable to cope with tilt. For instance, Victor “Isildur1” Bloom suffers from tilts quite often.
If you start feeling that it is impossible to resist tilt you should immediately stop playing. You have probably heard not to chase your losses. Obviously, it is always difficult to close the poker room tables and go to bed if you have lost some money. Everyone wants to go back and kick the butts of the opponents. Such desire for revenge is not a good assistant. Tilt results in mistakes and leads to bigger defeats and losses. Tilt is extremely dangerous to your bankroll! Always remember about this.
Euphoria or Conspiracy?
We would also like to talk about a delicate topic. There are many forum posts with angry authors accusing poker-rooms of cheating. A typical post of this sort look like this: “I have won a tourney and have withdrawn my money. Since then, the poker room has not been letting me win! I don’t get normal hands, face bad beats! I don’t have any doubts; the poker-room punishes me for my cash out!” Well, we are sure that you have seen dozens of similar posts. We are not going to stand up for poker rooms proving that there is no interest for poker sites to engage in helping some players. You can find many articles related to this issue. Instead of discussing hypothetical cheating, we would like you to consider poker psychology. There is one interesting psychological trait: having won a major tournament, the player becomes complacent. The poker player starts to take risks, even when there is no need for that. The poker player wants to win more instead of desiring to play correct. Therefore, it is fine to talk about real euphoria ruining poker game. Uncontrolled euphoria may harm your bankroll just as easily as tilt.
It might be that you are aware of the bankroll management rules we have presented. However, many players basically ignore such rules. They lose money because of poor bankroll management instead of the lack of poker skills. Therefore, don’t be skeptical about the information we provided here. Rest assured that our advice will save your money and help you win. Good luck!