How to Manage Your Poker Bankroll

Posted by Charles, February 21, 2013


poker bankroll

As a diverse and nuanced game, poker attracts a vast array of players and styles. Whether you employ an ultra-tight turtle strategy like "Action" Dan Harrington or are loose with your calls like "The Great Dane" Gus Hansen, the game is versatile enough to see success through both strategies. Add to that the ongoing debate about sunglasses and hoodies, the growing influence of women on the game and the general temperaments that define certain players' table talk, and you have a highly diverse crop of people entering poker tournaments. Though there are plenty of differences to be observed from one player to the next, all professionals have one thing in common – a bankroll.

As the name might imply, a bankroll is the amount of money that a player uses to gamble with. Despite being one of the most important tools in a professional's arsenal, bankrolls are rarely the topic of conversation among amateurs looking to take up online poker full time. While maintaining and managing these funds may not be as exciting as cracking pocket aces or turning the nut flush, it is something any serious player will have to do at some point. Fortunately, we here at Titan Poker are here to help.

Here are some tips on how to build and maintain a bankroll that will keep you going at the tables in good times and bad.

1) Establish a Limit
Most players won't have a serious bankroll when starting out, so it is important for individuals hoping to turn pro to establish just how much money they are willing to risk at the table. If you still have a full time job, take stock of your monthly income, being sure to note any expenses that are non-negotiable (i.e. rent, food, etc.). Once you see how much disposable income you typically have after covering necessary expenses, consider entertainment costs and other things you may be spending your money on. Take some time and think about how much of that money you are willing to risk, and use that number to deduce your limit.

2) Stick to Your Limit
Although it may be a pain to move funds around all the time, it is important that you find a way to separate your bankroll from the money that covers your personal savings and costs of living. This can be as simple as keeping your money in a jar in your bedroom or as complex as maintaining a personal checking account. The idea is that your gaming funds should never get in the way of your day-to-day life, so should you lose your bankroll during a particularly bad streak, step away from the table and work on your strategy while waiting for your monthly income to replenish your funds.

3) Don't Play at Your Limit
Once you figure out your bankroll, it may be tempting to go out and play at the biggest poker tournament you can afford. Yet what happens if you fail to cash? You don't want to wipe out your bankroll in one fell swoop, so don't play at your limit every time. Instead, you should stick to smaller cash tables and lower buy-ins for tournaments. As you expand your base and keep winning, you can certainly join faster tables or play for higher stakes, but it is always important to keep your bottom line in mind. American professional and 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) runner-up Paul Wasicka suggests that players never commit more than 10 percent of their bankroll to any individual game, while Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, the 2000 WSOP Main Event champion, suggests limiting any individual buy-in to between 2 and 5 percent.

4) Monitor Your Spending
Ideally, a bankroll should be something that you build upon for years to come. As such, you need to stay on top of your poker expenses to get the most bang for your buck. Meticulous gamers may keep a log of their wins and losses to keep tabs on their bankroll, but if you're more of an instinct player who barely passed statistics in school, then using tracking software like Holdem Manager can be a great way not to stray.

5). Stay Disciplined
Discipline is the best way to maximize your gains at the poker table. Whether it's hand selection, folding instead of chasing a straight or simply not buying back in when you bust out at a cash table, discipline is a key element for long-term poker success. That's not to say that it is easy walking away from the table after a bad beat, but an experienced professional adheres to the old clichés set forth in Kenny Rogers's song "The Gambler".

"You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away and know when to run."

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