Sure, poker requires skill, wit, and strategy, but even the most proficient player knows that one needs effective poker bankroll management skills to get ahead. The challenging card game demands focus and levelheadedness because you may go bust or end up digging into your grocery money. Strong financial discipline ensures you make the right choices, and this guide will show you the ropes of poker money management to get you on track for success.

Understanding Poker Bankroll Management

Put simply, poker money management is the art of determining the best fraction of your overall funds to use so you don’t risk more money than you should. You’re basically setting aside an amount for poker and staying within those limits to maximize your potential wins and minimize risk. Even so, proper bankroll management in online poker doesn’t only help to preserve your finances, but it also helps you play according to your appropriate skill level by placing the correct stakes.

Poker Bankroll Management

Common Budget Management Misconceptions

Practicing online bankroll management seems pretty cut-and-dried in theory, but this area is also misunderstood by many. There are a few misconceptions we’d like to bring to your attention so you know what not to do:

  • Assuming that the more buy-ins, the better: On the contrary, having too many buy-ins may be detrimental to your gameplay because you’re more likely to blow your bankroll leaning on your false sense of financial security.
  • Only looking at buy-ins for the current limit: Instead of only considering the absolute number of buy-ins you have for the limit you’re playing, consider the exact number of buy-ins you’re playing for the duration of the game. This gives you room to adjust limits when needed.
  • Thinking you’re too skilled to practice poker bankroll management: A combination of skill and money management is required to ensure success in poker. Some players may feel that if they resort to playing tight online poker, bankroll management skills don’t apply. Sadly, that couldn’t be farther from the truth because even the most skilled players can experience prolonged downswings.

Poker Bankroll Management Tips

Now, let’s move on to the juicy part of the article, which addresses the steps needed to effectively set up a poker bankroll at poker online casinos. The idea is to figure out which stakes and games to play while minimizing your chances of going broke. Let’s look at a few pointers on how to build a healthy poker bankroll.

Determine Size of Bankroll

The first step for sound poker bankroll management is to understand how much to risk by setting aside a specific amount for poker. One thing you must keep in mind is that your poker bankroll isn’t the total of all the cash you have. Instead, it’s the sum you can afford to lose without impacting your savings, day-to-day expenses, and financial goals.

Depending on how you want to go about your poker bankroll management, you can decide to set aside a fixed amount of money – a percentage of your disposable income. Or, you can incorporate a combination of both methods. The key, however, is to be honest with yourself and stick to any limits you set.

Evaluate Skill Level & Experience

Like most casino games, luck plays a huge role in winning at poker, but so does skill.  Top online poker players make money from it because they’ve harnessed the skills. However, it’s important to play according to your skill level. The norm for most novice players is to head straight to the popular Texas Hold’em tables. While there’s nothing wrong with that, there might be other poker variants better suited for your skill level.

If it’s your first time playing poker, you’re better off learning the ropes of one game and mastering it to steadily build your bankroll. After all, it’s better to be exceptional at one game than average in several. You can always explore other types as you advance your skillset to certify poker bankroll management.

Select Appropriate Poker Games and Stakes

As you’ve probably figured out by now, there are levels to playing poker. But the good news is there are poker games at all stakes, so there is a game for everyone. You’ll find low buy-in games where you can play for pennies or the nosebleeds where pots involved are worth millions. You just need to select the appropriate games and stakes based on your skill level at any given time to guarantee poker bankroll management.

That means understanding that the difference between low and high-stakes poker games boils down to the amount of money it’ll cost you to play. Playing high-stakes games means you need a proper poker bankroll to begin with, and your bets are higher, which implies more risk. Professional players sometimes join multiple tables simultaneously, but unless you’re confident in your poker skills and have the bankroll to back it up, you’re better off sticking to single-table low-stakes titles.

Potential Progression and Bankroll Growth

Several traits define successful poker players, and discipline and patience are right up there with the lot. When it comes to poker bankroll management tips, professional poker players know when to walk away. As for patience, it’s no secret that poker games can go on for hours. 

As a result, players need immense patience not to get bored and facilitate organic bankroll growth in the process. Below, we’ve included a few strategies on how to infuse the two and increase your bankroll over time:

  • Increase your skill level: You won’t build your bankroll if you continue to make basic mistakes. Invest time in learning the game fundamentals to hone your skills.
  • Play high-stakes games: When implementing bankroll management poker, don’t shy away from the high-stakes games because no one gets ahead by playing micros only.
  • Join freerolls: Taking advantage of freerolls is another way to build your bankroll. You’re essentially entering tournaments for free but still stand a chance to win real money.
  • Don’t withdraw cash: If your goal is to build a bankroll, then you might want to hold off on the withdrawals because it’s counter-productive.

Bankroll Management Strategies

And now for some handy poker bankroll management tips you can implement to keep you in the game.

The Percentage Method

Different poker players have different views on how much to set aside for their bankroll based on their financial muscle. However, according to the percentage method, it shouldn’t be more than 5% of your entire bankroll. For example, if you have a bankroll of $1,000, you should only stake $50. If you don’t win, you’re not left financially crippled, and there’s a chance you can even recover it the next time you play.

Remember, however, that 5% isn’t set in stone. You can set aside anything between 1% and 5% of your bankroll based on your appetite for risk, objectives, or betting style. So, using the same example, if you go with 2% and have a $1, 000 bankroll, you must bet $20 on each wager.

The Session Bankroll Approach

Another popular strategy in online poker bankroll management trusted by professional players is adopting the session bankroll approach. Here, you divide your poker bankroll into portions you’re prepared to risk during sessions. Typically, these bankrolls will accommodate two to three hours of play at least once or twice a day. Players with more time on their hands may even have bankrolls that last four or six-hour sessions.

The exact length of the session isn’t the focus here. Rather, the key thing is to end the poker session as soon as your bankroll dips to zero. When you employ this poker bankroll strategy, one bad session won’t offset your entire gambling experience.

The Buy-In Rule

Another effective poker bankroll management strategy is to implement the Buy-In rule.  A buy-in is required for a poker player to sit at a poker table. The poker bankroll rule of thumb requires you to have a minimum of 20 buy-ins for a single table game. For cash games, 50-100 buy-ins is a good number to work with.

So, say you’re playing $50 No Limit games, your bankroll should be between $2,500 and $5,000. Bankroll management during poker tournaments is slightly different. That’s because tournaments will naturally require more buy-ins of over 100, depending on the event.

Understand Downswings and Variances

Variance is inevitable when playing poker. It refers to the constant ups and downs that occur in poker results due to luck. The concept of variance is why poker players may experience winning or losing periods, whether they play well or poorly. If you’re unlucky, the losing periods, also referred to as downswings, might extend for weeks or even months.

Your task amid these highs and lows is to practice effective poker bankroll management by setting aside enough funds to handle the unpredictable outcomes. This ensures you don’t lose too much at any given time.

Long-Term Skill vs Short Term Variance

Even with a high win rate, you can easily wind up in the red due to short-term variance when you play poker. Your goal, in this case, is to play at your best for as long as you can to maintain your bankroll poker. Deviating from your A-game will have you leave money on the table. So, in the face of short-term variance as a skilled player, be sure to choose your games wisely by picking tables with passive recreational opponents where possible.

How to Prepare for and Handle Downswings

In poker, nothing is as certain as a downswing. It’s bound to happen—even to the most skilled player and it can hit your bankroll pretty hard. The best you can do is prepare for it so it doesn’t compromise your mental game.  So, the first way to prepare for downswings is to acknowledge that they will, in fact, happen.

From there, you can actively implement tips to minimize the damage. You can start by dropping down your stakes because small stakes allow you to ride the ups and downs. Evaluating your game is also necessary at this point to check if you’re not making unnecessary mistakes. Taking some time off may be vital in some cases, so frustration doesn’t get the better of you.

Advanced Bankroll Management Techniques for Poker Players

If you’d like to take your poker bankroll management skills up a notch, you can try out the following advanced strategies for pro players.

⭐Bankroll Monitoring & Tracking

You may want to start monitoring and tracking your funds and win rate for proper bankroll management in poker. To monitor your bankroll, you actively count how much money you have and compare it with the money you started with. An easier way to do this is by using poker tools like a tracking app where you enter each time you buy in and cash out, and it does the rest. That way, you stay on top of your stakes and remaining bankroll to make the necessary adjustments.

⭐Moving Up Stakes

Aggressive bankroll management in poker involves knowing the right time to move up poker stakes. It can be quite challenging because the “right time” for everyone depends on several reasons, from your bankroll to your confidence levels.

If you have a marginal win rate, consider moving up to 40 buy-ins. Let’s say you’re playing NL2, then moving up to NL5 is a good idea if you have a $200 bankroll. On most tables, a buy-in is 100 big blinds, so assuming you go for a full buy-in, your stake will be $5. ($5 x 40=$200).

How to Avoid Common Poker Bankroll Pitfalls

Although fun, poker can be quite a complex game with many pitfalls. It’s very easy to make mistakes that can negatively affect your bankroll. Many of these mistakes are quite common among rookie players, but the good news is most are relatively easy to fix.

Poker requires you to be mentally tough and avoid mood swings that may push you to play poker hands recklessly. That also means avoiding chasing losses. Unfortunately, after losing a massive pot, most players instinctively attempt to get back their chips at all costs. Such a reaction only makes things worse, and you end up losing even more. So, concentrate on the present and take a break if necessary.

On the flip side, a huge win can send you on a high that fuels erratic stakes. Even during winning stakes, always maintain a level head and avoid neglecting poker bankroll management principles. You may also want to adjust your games and stakes according to your skill level as you go. Why? Any time your poker bankroll is too small for the stakes you’re playing, you’re placing yourself at a severe disadvantage. Similarly, having a bankroll that’s too high in relation to your stakes means you’re not getting the most out of your gameplay.


Poker is one of those enjoyable casino games allowing players to use skill to increase their winning chances. However, managing your bankroll effectively is essential to success in the game. That means knowing when to bet and fold and understanding that even skilled players have bad days and bad runs.

Despite being a game of skill, luck is an inherent part of the game, so you need to prepare for the downswings that come with the game. Employing strategies in relation to your skill level also ensures you preserve your bankroll and enjoy the best poker experience possible.


What’s a good starting bankroll for playing poker?

What’s the best poker bankroll management strategy? 

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