Managing your Bankroll

Aside from mastering basic poker strategy, the most important element of being a successful poker player is money management.

poker bankrollAnd the first step to solid money management is establishing a poker bankroll. Your poker bankroll is not the amount of money you sit down with at the table (you should never be risking your entire poker bankroll at any one poker session)—your poker bankroll is the entire amount of money you have set aside for playing poker over an extended period of time.

Setting Your Poker Bankroll

Setting your poker bankroll requires taking an honest look not at only your finical situation, but your risk tolerance and ability to cope with up and down winning and losing swings. The first rule in setting your poker bankroll is to only play with money you can afford to lose. There should never be a compromise here. You have obligations to yourself and your family to never risk more than you can afford to write off as entertainment.

This doesn’t mean you can’t play if you don’t have a lot of money to commit to your poker bankroll. Your poker bankroll should start out small and grow as your level of experience grows. One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of poker is watching your poker bankroll grow from a few bucks, to a few hundred, to a few thousand.

So if you’ve got the money to spend, then feel free to play on higher limit tables. But if not, it’s play low limits and work your way up.

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What to Do With Your Poker Bankroll

Now that we’ve established what your poker bankroll is, let’s talk a little bit about what to do with it once you’ve got one. Let’s set our imaginary poker bankroll at $100. Now you’ve got $100, not for just one session, but for your long term poker play.

It is not realistic to sit down at a $3/6 or $5/10 tables with $100 and expect to win consistently and increase your poker bankroll. When you sit down and your entire poker bankroll is right there in front of you, you will play poorly. Your game will turn into a defensive attempt to maintain your money while you wait for a monster hand to double up. If you know anything about poker, you know that it is an aggressive game. Risking your whole poker bankroll in one session should never be done.

How to Build Your Poker Bankroll

Instead, understand that it will take time to build your poker bankroll. Choose a limit where you can enter with about 20% of your gambling money. This allows you to absorb five disastrous sessions before your poker bankroll is depleted.

This does not mean that in certain circumstances you will not need to replenish your chips in the middle of a session. Think of the 20% rule as a guideline. This will ensure that you will always have enough money in your poker bankroll to play the hand correctly at your limit.

The important thing to remember is never risk too much of your poker bankroll at one session. Having enough chips to raise when it is the right play or dump a hand when you know your beat, is imperative to becoming a winning poker player. And this all starts with your poker bankroll.

Poker Bankroll Review:

  • Never play with more than you can afford to lose.
  • Expect your poker bankroll to be an evolving entity. Some weeks you may win, while other weeks you may lose.
  • Plan to grow your poker bankroll slowly over time.
  • Never enter a game that puts your entire poker bankroll in play.
  • Stay at limits where you can comfortably buy in with 20% or less of your total poker bankroll.