Bankroll Management is a term much used in the context of real money player for online poker. As play toughens online this is becoming a necessity for every player. But every player has a different opinion on the best way to manage their money on the poker sites, and how to manage the variance that comes with playing poker either seriously or casually.
In order to fully understand how to manage your bankroll in the best way for you, you must first decide what sort of a player you are. Are you a player who wants to be a professional, or are you an amateur player who has no aspirations to play higher stakes or move up limits? Once you have honestly appraised how you wish to approach poker this will help your bankroll decisions. Most players fall somewhere in the middle of these two polarized types of player, so your ideal strategy for bankroll management will be personal to you.
You should set aside some money that you use only for poker. This will mean that whilst you have expenses like food, rent, entertainment, you are not having to forgo any of this commitments in order to play poker. This money is also solely for poker, so providing you can afford this money to be set aside you should not worry about playing with it. If you only have $50 to spare to begin with then that is your bankroll. Only start with more money if that is what you can afford to lose, you should never gamble otherwise pussy888.
Some people are different and some players use 100% of their money as their bankroll. Whilst this is not advisable this is the reality for some people. What I offer as a bankroll strategy is a somewhat cautious approach. This will suit any player wishing to play poker with as much security as a gambler can hope to have. Depending on your propensity to gamble or take risks, you may choose to alter or totally disregard these suggestions.
For SNG tournaments you should have around 150 buy-ins for this type of tournament. Most players say 100 buy-ins but 150 is a little more cautious. This means if you have a roll of $500 then you should play no higher than $3 SNGs. I would move up once that bankroll reaches 150 buy-ins for the next level the $5 SNGs which would be a total bankroll of $750. This will allow for the downswings that happen to every player. For No-Limit holdem I advocate having 50 buy-ins. If you get down to 35 buy-ins you should move down in limits to protect your bankroll. This allows one of the biggest principles to be followed when you play, which is to keep money around. If you are a studious player, who practises hard then your edge over the fish is playing correctly over the longer term. This means you must stay in the game, and cautious bankroll management will allow you to do this. As long as you are winning you will be able to move up.
Another question, when do you cash out? I normally look for once a month at how many buy-ins I have and if I have 75 buy-ins for a level I may cash out 15 of those buy-ins. More often than not I am working towards becoming profitable at the mid range stakes, so only take out what I need to and keep the rest in my bankroll. I would rather get profitable at $5 – $10 No Limit Holdem and have the bankroll for that limit, then I can cash out meaningful amounts.
Following a good bankroll strategy that is comfortable for you will take away any uncertainty you have about when to move down or up. It is pure mathematics. If you are faced with a brutal downswing then it is important you review hand histories and check that it is actually a downswing rather than a sustained period of negative EV plays you are making. You should do this before you start playing the lower limit. As long as you are doing the right things your results should improve so you can hopefully quickly move back up.
Many good players go broke because they do not follow a sound strategy with their money. The famous Internet player Tom ‘Durrr’ Dwan is known for taking shots with his bankroll. This means that he is willing to play a good game he is not properly bankrolled up if he feels his edge is large enough. I would not advise this for a new player. Stick to the criteria above or ones that you set for yourself. It reduces the risk and allows you to play enough hands to track your progress, get seasoned as a player and learn the games.