A Guide to Bankroll Management : Part One


Other than simply a lack of skill, one of the biggest reasons why a poker player goes broke is poor bankroll management skills. Anyone who has been playing for a considerable amount of time will advise you to practice and hone your bankroll management skills.

Now you might be thinking, “what exactly is bankroll management?”

In this three part guide, we’ll be covering all there is to know about bankroll management and what an important aspect it truly is. Let’s get started.

One of the most basic and important aspects of BRM is that whatever amount you have in your poker bankroll should be dictating what stakes you choose to play. This concept seems simple enough to understand but putting this idea into practice can be quite underwhelming for some people.

Over the next three articles, we’ll be sharing tips regarding how to think about and manage your poker bankroll, including offering some specific strategies to help you with decisions about game selection, moving up in stakes, and cashing out.


First things first. It is absolutely vital to understand and accept the fact that you should only be using your poker bankroll to play poker. Basically using the money you can afford to lose. Imagine that you have 5000 in your bankroll but out of the 5000 you have to make an important bill payment or buy groceries for 4500, then you do not have a bankroll of 5000. Your bankroll is only 500!

It is very important that not even 1% of your poker bankroll is needed somewhere else. This would allow you to play freely and make better decisions. If not, then you are simply gambling away your money by playing scared and not making optimal decisions simply to prevent any losses!


Another important consideration to make is whether the bankroll you’re currently using is going to be your only one or not. By this we mean whether or not you’ll be able to add more money to your bankroll or would you have to take a break in case you lose it all.

Consider this, if you have a full-time job and you’re getting paid, losing 500 would not matter to you that much. But if losing that amount will mean that you won’t be able to play till you’re able to replenish your bankroll, you will certainly be playing more cautious.

One prime purpose of having a bankroll is that it provides you with a safety net or a cushion for when you lose, which you will, as does everyone who plays poker. Playing a 1/2  buy-in with a 50 bankroll means that all you need is to lose one hand and you’re out of the game for a while. But if you have several 50 buy-ins in your bankroll, it means that you can reload and fight back to gain all those lost chips!


How much of a bankroll you should have can depend on various factors. The format of the game you play, playing style or even your tolerance for swings (good or bad).

For example, a short-handed (6-max.) no-limit hold’em cash game player can play from a smaller bankroll than a PLO cash game player because PLO tends to have more extensive swings (or “variance”). Similarly, PLO cash game players can play from a smaller bankroll than multi-table tournament players.

The table below will show you our recommendations for the most common formats and the amount of buy-ins you should have.

Format (Online) Minimum Buy-Ins Medium Cautious
NLH 6-Max Cash Game 30 Buy-ins 50 100
NLH (full ring) Cash Game 25 40 75
PLO 6-Max Cash Game 50 100 150
PLO (full ring) Cash Game 30 50 100
NLH 9 player SNG’s 30 50 100
NLH 45 player SNG’s 50 100 150
NLH 180 player SNG’s 100 200 500
NLH MTT’s 100 200 500
NLH MTT’s (large field) 200 400 600

The numbers mentioned above might be surprising to some but these are the recommendations given to those who ask about how big their bankrolls should be. You must find your own amount with which you feel comfortable playing.


Some people prefer playing with a larger bankroll so that they do not have to drop down the stakes at any point, whereas some play with a smaller bankroll so as to climb up the stakes faster. But this increases the risk of dropping down levels and/or going broke! It’s mostly down to personal preference.

There’s still a lot more to cover on bankroll management. Over the next two parts, we’ll be covering taking shots at higher stakes and cash out strategies related to bankroll management!

For more information about how to play poker and poker strategy, keep reading India Poker News!