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An Introduction to Poker Bankroll Management

Home » Guides » An Introduction to Poker Bankroll Management

An Introduction to Poker Bankroll Management

A closeup photograph of $50 bills under the corner of a laptop with poker chips, dice, and playing cards on top of them.

A poker player’s bankroll is the money he or she sets aside for poker. Those who play regularly, whether recreationally or on a semi-pro or professional level, should have a poker bankroll consisting of money that is completely separated from their everyday bank accounts. Whether it is a box full of cash in a closet or a poker-specific bank account, it should be its own entity. 

The difficult part is how to manage that bankroll. There are some basic rules that every player should follow to protect and maximize their poker money.

How To Start a Poker Bankroll

The first step to managing a poker bankroll is to start one. Some people take a specific amount of money from job earnings or some other influx of funds. Immediately put that amount in a physical or digital place that is reserved for poker only. This is especially useful because it easily helps set a budget. Whether it takes two days or one month, once the fund is played through, that’s it.

$100 Bills fanned out on a green felt table with poker chips and five red six-sided dice on top of them.

How to Boost a Bankroll 

There are a few ways to make a small starting bankroll go farther. One is by playing online poker using a bonus code.

The first and most popular option is often an online poker bonus. BetMGM Poker, for example, offers a 100% deposit match for any amount deposited up to $1,000. Most new players want to start with a small deposit of $10 or $25, but doubling that amount is a solid opportunity. The minimum deposit on BetMGM is $10, so a player can choose that amount and then play the very lowest limit cash game available, which will be $0.01/$0.02. Play conservatively and carefully to preserve that $10. As the action plays out, that player will earn BetMGM Rewards Points, and those points translate into that welcome bonus credited to their account in 10% increments.

BetMGM also offers free tournament tickets with that initial deposit. For a deposit of less than $500, the player will receive $25 in free tournament tickets (one $20 ticket and one $5 ticket). By cashing in those tournaments, the player turns free tickets into free money in their new bankroll.

Of course, the other way to boost a bankroll is to add to it with extra funds when available. Players can take a sliver of that annual company bonus or tax return and put it into the bankroll.

Bankroll Factors While Playing Poker

There are a number of factors that should determine how much of a bankroll should be in play at any given time. This depends on the player’s skill level, poker variation, betting limits or buy-ins available, cash games or tournaments, live vs online poker, and time available to play.

In general, a player shouldn’t put more than 5% of their bankroll at risk in a single game or tournament. However, that percentage can vary based on these general rules:

  • Cash games have lower buy-in options than tournaments, and conservative play can make the buy-in last longer. Players can also sense a downswing and cash out before they lose the entire buy-in.
  • People with lower bankrolls should start by playing limit games instead of no limit or pot limit, as it’s easier to control the pot sizes in a game like Limit Hold’em.
  • Tournament players should risk less of their bankroll, as only the top 10% or 15% of players in a field will cash. More tournaments are required, usually, to see a return on investment.
  • When playing tournaments, don’t forget to figure in fees and reentries.
  • Online poker plays faster than live poker. 
  • Players with experience and more skills can risk more of their bankrolls based on awareness of their swings and a risk/reward analysis.
A poker player wearing sunglasses sitting at a poker table with stacks of chips in front of him throws money towards the camera.

Adjustments to Poker Bankroll Management

When first building a bankroll, it’s important to adjust bankroll requirements and guidelines based on experience and one’s own track record. Every person’s needs and goals in poker are different.

The best way to watch for patterns and know what is best for a person’s bankroll is to take copious notes. Track the time played, stakes and buy-ins, number of hands played, feelings after a session based on wins and losses, and trends. Every player will have upswings and downswings. And as they play more poker, they will discover how to best manage their funds.

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What players need to know to manage their bankrolls effectively while playing live or online poker.