Bankroll Management

Bankroll management is a means of managing the funds you have in an online poker account to limit ‘variance’ – swings of fortune that can have you leaping for joy at the amount of money you have won or reaching for the whiskey bottle to drown your sorrows. Effectively bankroll management should prevent you from losing too much money in one session at the poker tables while not stopping you from enjoying a reasonably profitable day when the cards fall in your favor(*).

Proper use of bankroll management also determines what stake level you play at – for example, if you have ‘x’ amount of money should play poker at $x.xx/$x.xx level and move up or down the blinds and buy-ins depending on whether you win or lose (rather than shoveling more of your hard-earned cash into your online poker account to support a losing game).

(*) Profitable poker has little to do with the cards that are dealt – it is how you play the hand you are given which makes the difference between a profitable poker player and one who makes frequent visits to the liquor store!

What is Standard Bankroll Management?

There is a wide range of opinions on what constitutes ‘standard’ bankroll management (or even ‘correct’ bankroll management) and how it should be applied. These differences of opinion depend on the nature of game you play, your style of play and your acceptance of risk. Many would say that the examples we provide on our individual poker bonus pages are far too aggressive, whereas others might consider them too tame.

Our primary consideration when deciding what we should classify as ‘standard’ bankroll management came from our own experience of playing 6-Max NL Hold´em on poker sites which accept players from the States – typically tight aggressive players will their primary focus on grinding out an online poker bonus. We also had to select a bankroll management system that would benefit from both the contributed rake system used on the majority of online poker sites and the dealt rake system which is applied at both Americas Cardroom and Black Chip Poker.

How Bankroll Management Applies in Our Examples

Therefore we advocate buying into each cash game table with one fiftieth (1/50th) of your total bankroll to the maximum amount allowed at each table (usually 100 big blinds). With $1,000 deposited as a starting poker bankroll (the figure we used in our poker bonus examples), this would mean hitting the $0.10/$0.20 tables and buying into each with $20.00.

As the size of your bankroll increases with profitable sessions, cashback and the redemption of the site´s poker bonus, you should be able to move up stake levels over time – or move down to the $0.05/$0.10 cash game tables if you start to lose or feel intimidated by playing at a certain level.

More aggressive players may want to start at higher stake levels, whereas the more cautious may commence playing online poker at more modest stakes. Whatever variety of bankroll management you apply, you should never put money into an online poker account than you can afford to lose and, if you are aiming to make a living from playing online poker, make sure you have six months money behind you when you start.

Bankroll Management and the Big Picture

Although bankroll management is a valuable guide for determining at what level of stake you should be playing online poker, it is just a guide. If you feel that the money that you win or lose playing online poker has no real value to you, you should step up a level or two. If the opposite applies, and you are apprehensive about making betting decisions because of how much you may lose, you should drop through the stake levels until you reach your comfort zone.