Poker Bankroll Management

Bankroll management in poker or BRM is a fundamental concept that every player, regardless of their experience level, should understand and implement. Essentially, it refers to the practice of managing one’s poker funds in a way that minimizes risk of ruin while maximizing the opportunity for growth. It involves setting clear guidelines on how much money to allocate for playing poker and making decisions on which stakes to play based on the size of your bankroll. This discipline ensures that a player can withstand the inherent variance in the game without exhausting their funds.

An example from my own experience in bankroll management might clarify this concept further. Suppose I have a bankroll of $2,000 dedicated to poker. Following a common bankroll management rule, I decide not to risk more than 5% of my bankroll on any single session or buy-in, which in this case would be $100. This rule prevents me from playing in stakes too high for my bankroll, which could lead to significant losses and potentially wipe out my funds if I hit a losing streak. Instead, I choose games and buy-ins that align with this rule, ensuring that I can endure the ups and downs of poker without jeopardizing my entire bankroll.

Managing your bankroll is crucial in poker for several reasons. Firstly, it helps in dealing with the variance of the game. Poker is a game of skill in the long run, but in the short term, luck plays a significant role. Even the best players can experience losing streaks, and without proper bankroll management, these streaks could end one’s playing career prematurely. Secondly, bankroll management aids in psychological well-being. Knowing that you’re playing within your financial limits provides peace of mind, allowing you to make better decisions at the table without the stress of potentially losing money you can’t afford to lose.

Moreover, bankroll management is about sustainability. It ensures that you stay in the game long enough to learn, improve, and ultimately win. By adhering to strict bankroll guidelines, I’ve been able to navigate through the highs and lows of poker, gradually moving up in stakes as my bankroll and skills improved. This discipline has not only protected my funds but also contributed to a more enjoyable and less stressful poker experience.

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 The Importance of Creating a Bankroll for Poker

Building a proper bankroll is a crucial step for those who are serious about playing poker on a regular basis and are committed to doing so in a way that will prevent them from getting into serious financial trouble. Such strategic financial planning is not a necessity for those who view poker purely as a casual pastime with no concern for the long-term consequences of wins and losses. However, for people like me who approach the game with the intention of playing regularly and continually improving, building a proper bankroll is essential. It is the foundation upon which a sustainable poker career is built, allowing you to grow and learn in the game.

Based on my life experience and the experience of other experienced poker players, I have come to the conclusion that bankroll management should be done according to the different stages of a poker player’s journey. For beginners just starting to learn the intricacies of building and managing a bankroll, I have found that a reasonable starting point is to allocate enough funds for at least 50 buy-ins for the level at which you plan to play. This conservative approach provides a significant buffer against the variance inherent in poker, and gives you the necessary financial stability to focus on learning and improving without having to immediately replenish your bankroll.

As players gain experience and gain a deeper understanding of their playing style and dynamics, the strict 50 buy-in requirement may be adjusted. However, experienced players, including myself, stick to the rule of never going below 30 buy-ins in the bankroll. This ensures that even with a firm understanding of bankroll management, there remains protection against the fluctuations and swings of poker fortune.

Determining the size of a suitable bankroll goes beyond counting buy-ins; it requires an understanding of the win rate, or the number of big blinds won per 100 hands played. This calculation, based on a sample of hands, provides a quantitative measure of performance and expected earnings, which is critical to tailoring a bankroll strategy to individual needs. My approach, which I recommend, is to carefully track wins and losses across sessions to accurately calculate this win rate.

Given that each player’s win rate can vary significantly, the bankroll building strategy should be individualized. For players with a higher win rate, the bankroll can be more flexible, perhaps allowing for fewer buy-ins as their expected variance may be lower. Conversely, for those with lower win percentages or who are still honing their skills, a more conservative bankroll is recommended, leaning towards an initial benchmark of 50 buy-ins.

Which Strategy to Choose in Order to Adhere to Bankroll Management

Understanding and adapting to poker’s low win rate is essential for any player looking to improve and become more successful at the tables. For the purposes of our discussion, a low win rate is defined as less than 10 wins out of 100 at the big blind, meaning a win rate of less than 10bb/100. In this scenario, bankroll management becomes even more important to ensure longevity and gradual improvement in the game.

For players like me who may find it difficult to deal with low win percentages, a conservative approach to bankroll management is recommended. Initially, you should have a reserve of at least 50 buy-ins for the level at which you are playing to hedge against poker variance. When starting out, it is wise to play games with minimal big and small blinds, such as $0.10/$0.50, to avoid significant losses while honing your skills and understanding of the game.

Before you start building and managing your bankroll, you should thoroughly learn all the intricacies and strategies of the game. You should approach betting with caution, saving your chips for times when you are confident in the strength of your hand. This cautious approach is not a play to scare, but a smart play that maximizes the value of strong hands and minimizes unnecessary losses.

To illustrate the strategic considerations, let’s look at a scenario involving preflop hand strength. Imagine you are dealt a pair of A♠A♣ aces, which is universally recognized as the strongest starting hand in Texas Hold’em. Against any other preflop hand, your Aces are a significant favorite. For example, against a hand like K♦K♥, your Aces have about an 80% chance of winning versus 20% for Kings. This scenario is an example of a situation where confidence in the strength of your hand is justified and is a strong argument for betting.

Another example: you are dealt Q♦Q♠. While this is still a strong hand, queens are in a more vulnerable position against aces or kings. Against a hand like A♣K♣, your Ladies can be the favorite 57% of the time versus 43% for an ace-king, showing a narrower margin of safety but still favoring your Ladies. Situations like this emphasize the importance of hand selection and position awareness, especially for players looking to overcome a low winning percentage.

In my journey through the world of poker, these principles have been fundamental. Starting with a solid bankroll management plan centered around a conservative style of play has given me the opportunity to study, learn and gradually improve my game. Betting confidently with strong pairs and understanding the statistical probability of success in various matches played a key role. If someone is faced with a low win rate, a similar approach – prioritized learning, careful bankroll management and strategic betting – can pave the way to more consistent success at the poker tables.

Buy-in Formation for Bankroll Management

In poker, especially for those who strive for a modest winrate, defined as 10 big blind wins out of every 100 hands, a sensible approach to bankroll management is not just advisable, it is indispensable. This strategy, designed for players at the lower end of the winrate spectrum, is designed to reduce risk and provide a stable foundation on which to develop and refine our skills.

For players like myself operating in this range, an important aspect of our strategy is to maintain a bankroll that can absorb the fluctuations inherent in the game and thus minimize the likelihood of depleting our funds due to variance. Dispersion in the poker world refers to fluctuations in a player’s bankroll over time due to the inherent luck factor of the game. A deep understanding of variance is crucial, as it teaches us to attribute wins and losses not only to skill or lack thereof, but also to the normal ups and downs of the game.

To effectively navigate this landscape, I have found that following certain bankroll rules depending on the size of the blinds in play can greatly increase one’s resilience to the vagaries of variance. Below is a chart I developed of recommended buy-ins for various blind levels, specifically designed for players with a winrate of up to 10 big blinds per 100 hands:

  • For blinds of $0.01/$0.02, a bankroll of $100 is recommended. This amount is equal to 50 buy-ins, which provides a safety cushion against bustouts and allows for gradual growth and learning.
  • When the blinds are raised to $0.50/$1, the bankroll should be $5,000, with the same 50 buy-in principle followed to account for increased stakes and potential variance.
  • At $1/$2 blinds, the recommended bankroll increases to $10,000, maintaining a 50 buy-in buffer.
  • For higher stakes, such as $5/$10 blinds, a substantial bankroll of $50,000 is recommended so that players can tolerate variance without risking financial ruin.
  • Finally, at the top of this scale, at blinds of $10/$20, a robust bankroll of $100,000 is recommended to provide sufficient protection against variance when playing at high stakes.

This structured approach to bankroll management is especially important for beginners and those looking to improve their game. Even if we are successful at low stakes, the temptation to move to higher blinds with greater potential winnings should be tempered with caution. Advancing prematurely not only exposes us to greater risk, but also pits us against opponents with potentially better skills, increasing variance and the likelihood of significant losses.

By focusing on honing our skills at more forgiving low stakes, we give ourselves the opportunity to learn from experience, refine our strategies, and gradually build up our bankroll with less risk of catastrophic failure. This disciplined approach to bankroll management, based on a realistic assessment of our win rate and a respectful acceptance of variance, lays the foundation for sustained growth and success in the complex world of poker.

Single-Table SNGs Heads Up SNGs
Buy-In Bankroll Buy-In Bankroll
1.1$ 33$ – 66$ 1.1$ 22$ – 44$
2.2$ 66$ – 122$ 2.2$ 44$ – 88$
3.3$ 99$ – 198$ 3.3$ 66$ – 220$
5.5$ 165$ – 330$ 5.5$ 110$ – 220$
6.5$ 195$ – 390$ 6.5$ 130$ – 260$
7.5$ 225$ – 450$ 7.5$ 150$ – 300$
11$ 330$ – 660$ 11$ 220$ – 440$
16$ 480$ – 960$ 16$ 320$ – 640$
22$ 660$ – 1320$ 22$ 440$ – 880$
27$ 810$ – 1620$ 27$ 540$ – 1080$
33$ 990$ – 1980$ 33$ 660$ – 1320$


Feature Crash Casino Games Classic Casino Games
Type of Game Involves a single round, where players bet on the multiplier that the game reaches before “crashing”. Multi-round games with varied results.
Risk High-risk games with instant payouts. Have a moderate level of risk, even though the payouts may be processed longer.


When a Newcomer Needs to Increase Buy-Ins

When I first dipped my toes into the world of poker, like many newcomers, I was brimming with enthusiasm and eager to climb the stakes, to venture into higher blinds with the dream of bigger wins. However, back then, I lacked a clear understanding of how to escalate my buy-ins properly. It was a phase filled with trial and error, a learning curve that, while invaluable, could have been navigated with greater efficiency had I known what I know now. This reflection is for those of you standing at a similar juncture, ready to take the next step but unsure of the path forward.

A cornerstone principle I’ve come to live by is the 50 buy-in rule for any given blind level. This rule has served as my north star, guiding me through the tumultuous seas of poker variance. It is a principle that should remain sacrosanct, especially when considering moving up in stakes. Adhering to this rule not only cushions against the inevitable swings but also instills a discipline that is crucial for long-term success in poker.

The pivotal moment for considering an ascent to the next tier of buy-ins and blinds is when you observe a tangible improvement in your winrate, specifically once it surpasses the 11bb/100 hands threshold. This benchmark is indicative not just of a streak of good fortune but of a genuine enhancement in skill and strategy. It’s a sign that you’re ready to test your mettle at a higher level, where the challenges—and rewards—are greater.

Before making this leap, it’s imperative that your bankroll reflects your progress. In my journey, the rule of thumb was that my initial pot needed to have at least doubled through diligent play and adherence to sound bankroll management practices. This financial buffer is your armor against the heightened stakes and skilled competition you’ll face in higher blinds. Moreover, it’s a tangible testament to your growth as a player, both in terms of skill and mental fortitude.

By the time you’re contemplating moving up, you should have also amassed a wealth of experience. This experience, gleaned from countless hands, mistakes made, and lessons learned, is as crucial as your bolstered bankroll. It’s what will guide your decision-making, enabling you to navigate the complexities of higher stakes with confidence.

In retrospect, my eagerness to ascend the poker hierarchy without a solid foundation was a recipe for setbacks. However, these early missteps were invaluable lessons that shaped my approach to progression in poker. For those of you on the brink of stepping up, remember: patience, discipline, and a strategic increase in your buy-ins, guided by the 50 buy-in rule and a proven track record of success, are your best allies. Only when you’ve doubled your initial pot and solidified your winrate should you consider advancing to the next level of blinds. This methodical approach may seem slow, but it paves the way for sustainable growth and, ultimately, greater success in the captivating world of poker.

When to go High Blinds for Experienced Players

Reflecting on my poker playing experience, I had reached a point where my win rate had stabilized at 20bb/100 hands, indicating that I had become an experienced player. This milestone in my poker career required a more nuanced approach to bankroll management designed to maintain and capitalize on my increased level of play. The considerations outlined here, drawn from my experience, will serve as a guide for those players who have spent enough time playing poker to reach a similar level.

Achieving a win rate of 20bb/100 hands indicates a player who has not only mastered the basic aspects of poker, but has also developed a keen strategic mind capable of adapting to a dynamic game. For players at this level, bankroll management goes beyond the basics and requires a more nuanced strategy to match the higher stakes and increased competition.

Below is a bankroll management scheme I developed for this advanced stage, detailing recommended buy-ins for various stakes to protect against variance while providing ample opportunity for growth:

  • Small Stakes Tables: For tables with a minimum buy-in of $60, maintaining a $3,000 bankroll is a solid foundation that provides resilience to fluctuations and changes in play.
  • Low Stakes Tables: At the higher level, with buy-ins of $150, a bankroll of $7,500 is recommended, which is in line with the principle of sufficient depth to absorb variance.
  • Medium Stakes Tables: A bankroll of $15,000 is recommended for $300 tables, reflecting the higher stakes and potential for greater variance.
  • High Stakes Tables: At $750 the stakes are higher and a bankroll of $37,500 is required to navigate through the increased competition.
  • High Stakes Tables: At the high stakes level, where buy-ins are $1,500, a robust bankroll of $75,000 allows you to stay competitive without the constant fear of going bust.
  • Very High Stakes Tables: Finally, the zenith of the poker game – the $3,000 buy-in tables – requires a bankroll of at least $150,000, providing a safety cushion to strategically take risks and capitalize on profitable opportunities.

This information serves as a guideline based on my personal experience and reflects a balance between risk management and the desire to progress in the game. It is important to remember that bankroll management is not a one-size-fits-all formula; it requires adaptation to individual circumstances, playing style and risk appetite.

For experienced players contemplating when to move to higher stakes, the decision shouldn’t just depend on achieving a certain win rate. It’s about making sure your bankroll doesn’t just double, but grows significantly to accommodate the increased buy-ins, as well as gaining invaluable experience at your current level. This approach ensures that when you decide to move up to a higher level, you won’t just survive, but thrive, ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities that higher stakes present.

Live Poker Bankroll Management

As I learned more and more about poker, I realized that the approach to bankroll management in live and online poker is significantly different. This realization came to me early on in my poker journey and has forced me to adapt my strategies accordingly in order to maintain the integrity of my bankroll in the different formats. The nuances of bankroll management in live poker, unlike its counterparts, are very deep and require an individualized approach to ensure long-term sustainability and success in the game.

One of the most glaring differences I have encountered is in the buy-in structure. In poker, the environment is defined by stricter buy-in rules, often limiting the maximum amount that can be brought to the table relative to the blinds. This structure inherently limits the potential for variance, but also limits potential winnings, requiring strict adherence to the 50 buy-in rule for effective bankroll management. However, when moving to live poker, buy-in restrictions tend to loosen, and some games allow more flexibility in the amount with which you can start a game. This flexibility opens up both opportunities and risks, requiring a more nuanced bankroll management strategy.

Another important aspect that differentiates live poker bankroll management is the pace of play. Live poker operates at a much slower pace than regular poker, with fewer hands per hour, resulting in a different form of variance. This slower pace means that fluctuations in your bankroll may not be as immediate and pronounced as in live poker, but they can be more prolonged. Consequently, while the principle of maintaining a solid bankroll remains the same, its application requires adjustment. In live poker, patience becomes a virtue, and the ability to endure periods of bad luck or slumps without the ability to recover immediately in the next hand or at the next table requires a larger safety net.

In addition, the social and psychological aspects of live poker present unique challenges and opportunities that affect bankroll management. The ability to read opponents and adapt to live table dynamics can create advantages that are less prevalent in the conventional game. However, these advantages come with the need to be physically and mentally prepared for long sessions, which can affect decision-making and, as a result, bankroll longevity.


Mastering bankroll management is essential for any poker player aiming for long-term success. It’s a critical skill that becomes increasingly important as you gain experience and climb the ladder in the poker world. For veterans, skillful bankroll management can be the difference between sustained success and unnecessary losses, as it allows them to navigate the volatility of the game by taking a strategic approach to financial planning.

Beginners, on the other hand, should prioritize learning the basics of the game over complex bankroll management strategies. The path to mastering poker begins with understanding its rules and developing your own style of play. Bankroll management becomes relevant as you develop these fundamentals, adjusting your strategy as your knowledge and experience grows.

It is important to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all bankroll management strategy for every player. Individual playing style, risk tolerance, and personal experience greatly influence how a person should treat their bankroll. What works for an experienced player who has been through the ups and downs of the game for years may not work for a beginner who is still learning the tactical aspects of poker.

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Written by Alisa Kotsar
Over the past 7 years, Lean has diligently tracked the progress and transformations in the gambling industry. His distinctive writing style has contributed to the dissemination of important news and updates from the gambling world and clarified important trends in the industry.