Bankroll Management


Bankroll is a player’s financial backbone in poker. It is the total amount of money players have kept aside only for playing poker. How you handle that money, making sure you can continue playing even during a losing streak, is important. It is essential to make wise choices without risking a lot of money all at once.

Managing your bankroll properly is key in poker. The objective is to reach a point where you can play with your winnings, not your initial cash. Since poker has lots of ups and downs, you need a decent bankroll to handle the swings. With good bankroll management, you can enjoy playing poker without worrying too much about losing.

In this article, you can explore and learn about Poker Bankroll Management, its Importance, Strategies, Basic rules of Poker Bankroll Management, Setting up your Poker Bankroll, Bankroll Management Techniques, and Poker Bankroll Calculator.

What is Poker Bankroll Management?

Bankroll management in poker is a crucial aspect of long-term success and financial stability in the game. Essentially, it involves carefully managing the amount of money you allocate for playing poker to ensure that you can sustain both winning and losing streaks without risking significant financial harm.

To implement effective bankroll management, players typically begin by setting a budget and determining the total amount of money they are comfortable with using solely for playing poker. This sum is then divided into smaller portions, with only a fraction being used for each playing session or tournament entry.

It is essential to choose stakes that are appropriate for your bankroll size, avoiding tables where the minimum bet exceeds your allocated budget. Adhering to these limits helps reduce the risk of losing substantial amounts in a single session. Moreover, as winnings or losses fluctuate, players should adjust their stakes accordingly to maintain balance and stability.

This approach fosters discipline, preventing impulsive decisions driven by emotions such as frustration or greed. By sticking to a structured bankroll management plan, poker players can enhance their overall performance, minimize financial stress, and increase their chances of long-term success in the game.

Why is Poker Bankroll Management Important?

Variance refers to the natural fluctuations in your winnings and losses due to skill and luck. While skill plays a significant role in poker, luck also has a considerable impact on outcomes. Properly managing variance involves ensuring that your bankroll is appropriately sized for the stakes you are playing at. If your bankroll is too small, you risk going broke during downswings, whereas if it's too big, you are not maximizing your potential profits.

Effective bankroll management means finding the right balance to withstand the inevitable ups and downs of the game while still having enough funds to capitalize on winning streaks. By managing your bankroll effectively, you are alleviating the negative effects of variance and increasing your chances of long-term success in poker.

Basic Rules of Poker Bankroll Management 

The basic rules of Bankroll Management to be kept in mind and followed while playing poker are as follows:

  • Use Poker Money Wisely: This means only using money for poker games that your budget allows you to play. Your poker bankroll should be kept separate from your other expenses. This separation ensures that if you have a losing streak in poker, it won't affect your ability to pay for essential needs. It's a fundamental rule to avoid using money that should be allocated elsewhere.

  • Match Stakes to Bankroll: Your bankroll size determines the games you can afford to play. While it is tempting to aim for higher stakes where you can win more money, it is important to assess your skill level realistically. Sometimes, players need to move down to lower stakes temporarily, especially during periods of losses until they are winning consistently again. This strategy, known as "moving down," involves playing at lower-stakes tables where the risk is lower. It is a crucial aspect of sustaining a long-term poker experience because it allows players to remain in games where they are more likely to make a profit.

  • Managing your Poker Bankroll prevents you from going broke: The primary purpose of your bankroll is to act as a safety net for losses. Losing is inevitable in poker, even for experienced players. If you don't have enough money set aside to replenish your bankroll after a losing streak, you might not be able to play poker for a longer period.

    However, having a sufficient number of buy-ins (the amount needed to enter a game) allows you to continue playing and try to recover your losses. Proper bankroll management entails moving down to lower stakes if you lose a predetermined amount, ensuring that you don't risk losing all your funds. Ultimately, it's better to play at lower stakes consistently than to risk going broke and not being able to play at all.

Setting Up Your Poker Bankroll

To start your poker bankroll, first determine how much money you can comfortably deposit into your poker account. It is crucial to remember that your bankroll should consist of funds you can spare, not needed for everyday expenses. Your bankroll is private and important to you, so focus on your circumstances and goals. Many online poker sites offer cash games with very low stakes, which means you can practice proper bankroll management even with a small starting bankroll.

Building a poker bankroll varies from player to player. Some prefer starting from scratch and playing freerolls (free tournaments with real prizes) to earn money for their poker bankroll. Others can make a single deposit and use their winnings to move up in stakes gradually. The key is finding the approach that works best for you.

Bankroll Management Strategies

Bankroll management strategies that will help you to grow your bankroll are as follows:

  • Keep Track of Your Bets:

Always know how much you are betting and what the odds are. This helps you see where you are winning and losing eventually allowing you to improve how you bet.

  • Stick to a Strategy: 

Find a betting strategy that works for you according to your betting style and stick to it. For example, decide how much you will bet each time (in units), but never risk more than 5% of your total betting money (your bankroll). Sticking to your strategy will help to protect your bankroll.

  • Find value: 

Instead of just picking easy wins, look for bets with the best odds. This helps you in building your bankroll slowly and gradually.

  • Set a Fixed Amount for Betting:

Decide on a set amount of money you are willing to use for betting. This amount should be what you are okay with losing because betting can be unpredictable. Once you have picked your betting money, don't add more if you run out. 

  • Know When to Skip a Bet: 

Sometimes, not betting is the smartest move. Do your research and only bet when you are sure it's a good choice. Learning to skip bets is important for long-term success.

  • Set Limits: 

Many betting websites let you set limits on how much you bet each week or month. This helps you stay in control and not bet too much. It is better to focus on making good bets rather than making lots of bets.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here is a list of common mistakes to avoid in bankroll management:

  • Playing Beyond Your Means: Using money you can't afford to lose.

  • Ignoring Bankroll Guidelines: Not sticking to the recommended funds for each game.

  • Chasing Losses: Trying to win back lost money by playing recklessly.

  • Failing to Adjust Stakes: Not adapting stakes according to your bankroll's ups and downs.

  • Letting Emotions Control: Allowing frustration or excitement to drive your decisions.

  • Not Replenishing After Losses: Neglecting to rebuild your bankroll after significant losses.

  • Playing Too Low: Sticking to stakes that don't challenge you enough to grow.

  • Moving Up Too Quickly: Advancing to higher stakes before you're ready, risking your bankroll.

Poker Bankroll Calculator

The given below is a table of recommendations for poker players in response to how big their bankrolls should be. You can look at these numbers in the table and adjust them to fit your situation. You can change the amounts to match your preferences, financial situation, and level of comfort with risk.

Game Variants

Minimum buy-ins

Medium buy-ins

Maximum buy-ins

No Limit Texas Hold’em (cash games between 6 players)




No Limit Texas Hold’em (SNGs between 9 players)




No Limit Texas Hold’em (Multitable Tournaments)




Pot Limit Omaha (cash games between 6 players)




Bankroll Management Techniques

Some of the techniques that will help in maintaining the bankroll management are as follows:

  • Understanding Blinds

The player sitting to the leftmost side of the dealer must place a small blind, while the next player places a big blind. In the majority of games, the small blind is half the size of the big blind, and the big blind is typically equivalent to a small bet in a limit game.

For example, in a 20/80 game: Small Blind is 10 & Big Blind is 20.

The blinds are mandatory payments that players have to make, regardless of their hand’s strength. The other players must match the blind bet, or they can choose to fold, to continue playing. The player seated in the small blind position is required to contribute an additional amount that makes up the difference between the big and small blinds. For example, if the big blind is 2 and the small blind is 1, the player in the small blind position must put in 1 chip to call.

Avoid defending your blinds excessively, choosing appropriate hands to defend with is essential. Defending blinds should occur when holding a strong, or a decent hand. Avoid defending with hands that are susceptible to being overpowered by small hand-rankings. Instead, consider using sequential middle cards or pairs.

In the limit game, defending your blinds is straightforward since the pot odds are better, but it does not ensure victory. Defending your blinds should not be limited to calling; raising can be a better defensive strategy. Remember, attacking is often the best way to defend.

  • Understanding Side Pots

There are two distinct stacks of chips on the table while playing poker, sometimes, even after a player wins a hand, two or more players end up receiving chips. This is due to the concept of "Side Pots".

In Texas Hold'em, the All-in rule permits a player to stay in a hand even if they run out of chips. There are predetermined minimum and maximum buy-ins; a player's stack size is not restricted once they join the game. However, they can only risk the chips they have. If a player has insufficient chips, to call a bet and remain in the game, they can go All-in with their remaining chips, creating a side pot for the remaining players who still have chips. This does not restrict ‌other players from betting and raising within the poker rules.

All-ins are encountered in No-Limit Texas Hold'em, and players are advised to have the maximum allowable buy-in at all times. Side Pots are common in poker, where a small stack going All-in for a small amount of chips can result in larger stacks creating a side pot that may be larger than the main pot. Even if it appears that the small stack will win the main pot, it might still be beneficial to attack the side pot aggressively.

To understand how to calculate side pots, let's take an example:

  • Suppose there are four players in a hand, and Player 1 goes all-in with their remaining ₹100. The maximum they could win is ₹400 (4 x ₹100).
  • At the end of the betting round, ₹400 is set aside as "Player 1's Pot", which they can win exclusively. The other players continue to compete for both pots.
  • Later in the hand, Player 2 faces a bet of ₹600 and goes all-in with their remaining ₹200. At the end of the betting round, Player 2 and the other players each contribute ₹200 to create "Player 2's Pot". The remaining change goes into a third pot and the game proceeds.
  • After the showdown, the pots are awarded in reverse order. The last two players who stayed in until the end show their cards, and the winner takes the third pot. Then, Player 2 shows their hand against the remaining players, and the winner takes "Player 2's Pot." Finally, Player 1 shows their hand against all three opponents, and the winner takes "Player 1's Pot."
    • Stack Management

    Effective management of chips/stacks is crucial in poker. If you have a large stack, your opponents may be wary of raising against you. If any opponent has a comparatively large stack, it's best to avoid a confrontation unless necessary. In early positions, even with a large stack, raising requires a good hand as there is a risk of losing chips to opponents with smaller stacks. Similarly, in late positions, It's not recommended to continuously call with any hand. You don't need to be involved in every pot.

    Varying your play is essential, as having a big stack doesn't mean you should constantly raise. Doing so can prompt even weaker players to play back at you. If you have a small stack and cannot survive another round of blinds, it's advisable to go all-in with an acceptable hand. Staying in the game with a small stack can make you an easy target for opponents with larger stacks, so it's better to leave the game before becoming a victim.

    • Bet Sizing Mistakes 

    Mastering the skill of bet sizing is crucial for success in Texas Holdem. However, many novice players find it challenging to determine the appropriate bet size at each stage of the hand. Failing to do so can leave a significant gap in your strategy, hindering your ability to maximize profits and minimize losses. Therefore, it is crucial to stay mindful of your stack size, pot size, and overall objectives when placing bets. Consistency and strategic thinking are key to making optimal bets.

    For instance, if you have a strong hand and believe that your opponents have weaker hands, it is recommended to bet around 3/4th of the pot to increase your chances of winning.

    Knowing when to bet big or small is crucial in Texas Hold'em poker. There are two main reasons to bet big: 

    1. It discourages opponents from continuing with drawing hands by giving them incorrect pot odds.
    2. It can result in higher value by getting opponents with worse hands to call.

    Generally, it's not recommended to make small bets, such as half the pot or less. However, there may be exceptions when you know that your opponent won't outdraw you and will call a smaller bet instead of a larger one.

    When raising before the flop, the guideline is to raise about 3 or 4 times the size of the big blind.

    It is important to avoid making minimum bets or raises as they are usually ineffective. Instead, make a strong bet or consider not betting at all.

    • Value Betting

    A value bet is a wager made to make an opponent call your wager. The objective is to bet the maximum amount that will result in a call, and it is typically used by a player holding a strong hand that is likely to win. The goal of a value bet is to increase one's profits, which is a crucial aspect of the game as earning extra money from hands is key to maximizing one's winnings.

    The best time for value betting is when you have a strong hand. Players use “slow play” when they have a strong hand. Although, slowly playing a hand is surely a good way to make more money; there are times when a value bet is going to get you a handsome amount.

    A value bet often ends up with an “All-in” towards the end of the hand on the river. At the time of making your first value bet, you may think you want more money in that pot. 

    Remember that it is a process that will lead to more money going into that pot later on in the hand. As long as you believe a value bet will lead to more money, you will want to make that choice. Remember, you will have several chances to make value bets. As you progress through the hand, a proper value bet will continue to get bigger.

    To become proficient at value betting, it's essential to hone your ability to read your opponents' hands and then act accordingly. This skill requires extensive practice and experience and is often a distinguishing factor between winning and losing players. You can learn to recognize when to make value bets and how much to bet to maximize your winnings with practice and experience.

    Tools and Resources

    Here are some apps, software, and tools that can help you keep track of your poker bankroll:

    • PokerTracker: This software helps you track your poker sessions, analyze your play, and manage your bankroll. It keeps a record of your wins, losses, and overall performance to help you make better decisions.

    • Holdem Manager: Similar to PokerTracker, Holdem Manager is software that tracks your poker statistics and helps you analyze your game. It provides graphs and reports to visualize your progress and manage your bankroll effectively. 

    • Bankroll Tracker: This app allows you to input your poker sessions, including buy-ins, winnings, and expenses. It calculates your profits and losses, as well as your overall bankroll balance, so you can stay on top of your finances. 

    • Poker Income Pro: This mobile app is designed specifically for tracking poker income and expenses. It offers detailed statistics, graphs, and charts to help you monitor your bankroll and improve your game. 

    • Excel Spreadsheet: If you prefer a simple solution, you can create your bankroll management spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Customize it to track your buy-ins, cashouts, and net profits, and use formulas to calculate your bankroll balance and performance metrics.

    These tools make it easy to monitor your poker bankroll, analyze your performance, and make informed decisions to improve your game.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is bankroll management and what is an ideal bankroll size?

    Bankroll management is the practice of prudently managing your investments at the poker table to ensure that you always have sufficient funds available to play real stake games.

    How do you build a poker bankroll?

    You can build a poker bankroll by starting with a small amount of money, playing at stakes you can afford, and gradually increasing your bankroll through smart play and disciplined bankroll management.

    How do you manage a poker bankroll?

    You can manage your poker bankroll by setting a budget, playing at stakes within your means, and adjusting stakes based on your wins and losses to maintain balance and avoid big losses.

    Why is poker bankroll management strategy important?

    Poker bankroll management strategy is crucial to avoid going broke, maintain stability, and make rational decisions, ensuring long-term success and minimizing financial risk in the game.

    How do I move up in poker stakes?

    You can move up in poker stakes gradually by consistently winning at your current stakes, increasing your bankroll, and ensuring you are financially comfortable with the higher stakes before making the jump.


    Managing your poker bankroll is essential for your long-term success. By implementing effective bankroll management techniques, you can minimize the risk of going broke and maximize your chances of success. Whether you are just starting or a pro player, following basic rules like matching stakes to your bankroll size and avoiding chasing losses can help you maintain financial stability and improve your overall performance.

    Utilizing tools like poker tracking software, mobile apps, or Excel spreadsheets provides valuable insights into your performance, helping you make informed decisions and continuously improve your bankroll management.

    Ultimately, by practicing good bankroll management and staying disciplined, you can enhance your overall poker experience, minimize stress, and increase your chances of long-term success at the tables.

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