Poker Bankroll Management - 3 Basic Rules

There is a huge amount of discipline that is needed if someone is going to be successful at playing poker. A lot of the best poker professionals today will say that bankroll management is the most important feature that you need to have in order to be successful. However, it is an area that is often overlooked by many players.

Andrew Omalley
Oct 09 2021

Therefore, if you can nail down a strong poker bankroll management system, you can really set yourself up for success and potentially give yourself in the long run. This article will explore the importance of bankroll management in poker, providing some useful advice in this regard that could allow you to take your per game to the next level.


Treat Poker Like a Business

If you are someone who enjoys playing poker just for the thrill of it and you are not too invested in whether you win or lose, then you should keep having fun and playing as you please. However, if you are looking to take your poker game to the next level and consistently turn a profit, then you almost need to treat it like your job or like you are running a business.

A common trend you will see with a lot of leading poker professionals is that they have had success in the business world. This is no coincidence because they know how to effectively manage money. For a poker player or a business to survive, they need to have a certain level of bankroll. If you were opening up a store, you would need startup capital in order to pay for the likes of inventory, rent, and running expenses.

As time goes on, you will still have ongoing expenses, such as wage bills, marketing costs, and insurance. Therefore, being able to properly manage your money is vital to keep a business surviving. If you do not have sufficient capital stores, a business will not be long for this world. This goes for poker also. The reason why proper bankroll management is so important is that the likes of bad luck, bad beats, and poor runs are going to be part and parcel of the playing experience.

Even the leading players in the world will go through bad stretches where they are consistently not winning. By having proper bankroll management, you will be able to ride out this storm and keep yourself surviving when these tough times hit. When you get through the other side, you will still have some capital intact that allows you to make the most of the turn of fortune.


Figure Out Your Staking Plan

One of the trickiest aspects of playing poker is figuring out at what stakes you should be playing. Naturally, the lure of the higher stakes is going to be there due to the bigger sums that are being played for. However, it is often not a good idea to jump straight into the deep end in this regard as you can quickly run dry. As well as playing against better players, you will also often see your bankroll run out at a much faster rate than it might if you were playing at lower stakes levels.

When people are looking at taking their poker very seriously, they will often try to pinpoint a number at which they will need to make from their playing in order to cover bills and allow them to live somewhat comfortably. Certain people will only need $50,000 a year, while others will be looking to make six figures to be comfortable. This depends on the specific person and their needs.

No matter how much money you are trying to make through your poker play, you need to figure out a smart staking plan. The common bankroll management experts will say that a player will need to have at least 25 buy-ins in order to play a certain game. It is also vital that you have an additional 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses tucked away in a bank account that you can survive off if things go pear-shaped.

If you are looking at a no-limit hold’em cash game that is $2/$5, the typical buy-in will be $500. Therefore, you should have at least $12,500 in your bankroll in order to play at this stakes level ($500 x 25). Some people would like to add an extra margin of safety and only play when they have 30x the buy-in. This will be up to you to decide, factoring in your own level of performance and risk tolerance levels.

Eventually, if things are going well for you, you might decide to move up the stakes. This is usually the goal for most people, while others will get comfortable at a certain level and not look to progress any further up the ranks in this regard. Then there are other people who attempt to move up stakes too quickly and can get blown out of the water.

A lot of people will go broke by moving up stakes and not adjusting their bankroll management plan. There will also be those people who underestimate the jump in skill level that is also needed when moving up the levels. These are two issues that need to be looked at when you are considering a move up the ranks.

The players are not going to be as easy to beat as you move up the levels and the buy-ins are also going to be greater. Therefore, if you are jumping from $2/$5 up to $5/$10 games, you will often need to double your bankroll as the buy-in will usually be at least $1,000 and often reach $1,500. It is only appropriate to move up the stakes level if you believe that your game is at a point whereby it is now strong enough to compete and that your bankroll is sufficiently large enough to survive at this stakes level.


Managing Money Outside of Poker

One area that gets overlooked a lot when people are developing a poker bankroll management system is what they do with their money outside of poker. While you can have the most disciplined system in place when you are playing the game, if you blow your winnings, then you can end up in a different set of problems. It can be a very satisfying feeling when you land that big win playing poker.

The natural tendency for a lot of people in these circumstances is to run out and purchase a new expensive watch or a new car. However, if you constantly blow your winnings on these types of items, it will take longer and longer for you to build up the bankroll necessary to move up the stakes. It can be better to be a bit more conservative with your spending if you are really looking to take your poker game to the next level.

You also can’t count on success continuing. When times are good, it seems like you have cracked the game and will keep winning forever. However, the game does not work like that, as countless people have discovered over the years the hard way.

It is also important that you are very careful when it comes to lending money to other people. Staking poker players is a common activity on the scene. However, if you are getting involved in this side of things, you need to be very careful about who you give money to. You need to make sure that they can be trusted to pay back your money, as well as looing to see if their skill level is up to scratch and justifies the staking.

You should not be lending money to people if this is going to significantly hamper your own bankroll. The last thing you want to do is compromise your bankroll threshold by doing so. Focusing on your own game is more important and should be prioritized. If you are playing online, then some of the best sites on the market today include PokerStars, PartyPoker, and 888poker.



Poker is a game that has created a dream life for countless people all across the world. However, there are many more bad luck stories than positive ones. By taking the time to put in place an effective bankroll management system, you can give yourself the best chance possible of being one of the success stories. This is not something that is difficult to put in place.

The difficulty lies in being disciplined to stick with this strategy no matter how well or how poor your results are. This is usually what will differentiate the profitable poker players from those who trudge along and never manage to fulfill their potential. As well as having hr skill level and a bit of luck, proper bankroll management is going to be key for you if you want to focus on poker in the long run as a viable career path.

Written by: Andrew Omalley
Oct 09 2021