Managing and setting your poker bankroll (the money you allocate to play with) is one of the most important fundamentals of successful online poker. Playing within your limits and being realistic about your poker bankroll is vital, especially if you have tight limits or you don’t want to keep depositing into your poker accounts.
Put simply it doesn’t matter how much you could ultimately win if you don’t have enough money to get there. Whatever your bankroll – it needs to be treated with respect.
The number one rule of bankroll management is – don’t play beyond your limits and is one of the most important Golden Rules of Poker never to be broken. Once your budget is established you must play at realistic limits and games to stand a chance of being successful and more importantly to ride out the time you will be unsuccessful.
There are many guides to calculating how much is enough for what limits –
Suggestions range between 20-60 times the max buy-in in a cash game / tournament entry, or 200-500 times the big blind. Even at the lower range of these figures this is generally a far bigger bankroll than new players think necessary.
The important issue here is that playing in too higher limit game for your bankroll will seriously affect the way you play. If you are constantly worrying about it being your last tournament or not calling a hand because its the last drop of cash you have – you will not make the right choices based on the game alone.
Too many players start off with too little bankroll for even the low limit games and then after a couple of wins, move up a level and then get themselves into trouble.
If nothing else looking at the suggested limits to bankroll ratios should tell you that moving up before you have the suggested bankroll is a recipe for disaster. Ideally it should tell you that playing even low limit poker is not something you should try to do with the barest of contingency.
You will not be alone in this – most new players fail to realise just how much worrying about only having enough for a couple more shots at winning Sit N Go tournaments affects your play. If you start out underfunded you feel up against before you’ve even started.
This is much more important in no-limit games where the swings and drops in bankroll are most dramatic.
It may be worth playing in Limit games in order to build and not lose cash in a more controlled way. This is may also be a good strategy if you are hunting poker bonuses and just trying to clear deposit bonuses with minimal bankroll.
Looking back at the broad range generally recommended here are the kind of bankroll figures they suggest for No Limit games –
With 20-50 times the $25 max buy-in buy-in a for 0.25 NL cash game it would mean a $500 – $1250 bankroll.
$5+50 SnG tournaments need a $110 – $275 bankroll. Looking at other suggestions of 200-400 times big blind in a 0.25 NL cash game ($25 max buy-in) this would equate to a $50 to $100 bankroll. Personally I think 200-300 times the big blind has no room for down-swings.
You really shouldn’t be sitting down at a cash game with much less than the max buy-in otherwise your inviting trouble and a lot of tough all-in decisions. So with $25 committed what happens if you blow all your money in one game, you cash in for another and your already playing for all your bankroll. Even the pros allow for a downturn of bigger proportions than your bankroll can handle – and they know what they’re doing.
Back a few years ago when games at the lower stakes were generally very soft and easy to win you could get away with a bare minimum of 20 buy-ins and ride out variance. However as online poker has evolved and the standard of players has improved I think for both cash and tournament games you should work on a minimum of 50 buy-ins.
I would suggest as an absolute minimum –
A bankroll of $275 for $5+0.5 SnG tournaments (50 times buy-in)
A bankroll of $1250 for 0.25NL if the max buy-in is $25 (50 times)
A bankroll of $150 for 0.01/0.02 NL with a $5 max buy-in (30 times)
If these figures are beyond your means then you need to be realistic and play down a level or two and grind your way up.
Maybe play micro limit like 0.01 NL where the max buy-in would be $10 so you could play effectively on $200. If your bankroll is less than this then you need to look for micro limit games and play steady to build up the appropriate bankroll and definitely avoid trying to move up to quickly.
Bankroll Management and allowing for variance is by far and away one of the most important factors of successfully conquering the modern online game.
Remember putting half of your bankroll into one tournament or game really is gambling. The sensible player and the pro player will play at the lowest level necessary in order to protect bankroll, building up slowly as bankroll improves. Don’t learn this lesson the hard way.