Effecitive Bankroll ManagementBankroll management (BRM) refers to the management of a poker player’s funds. Once a player masters the art of effective BRM, he or she can protect these funds by never risking a large percentage of this money at any one time.

By implementing bankroll management effectively, we can allow for variance and still provide ourselves with the best possible opportunity to maximize profit whilst minimizing losses.

What Limits Should I Be Playing?

When it’s No Limit Texas Hold’Em we’re talking about, your bankroll should generally be 20 times the full buy-in of the limit you want to play. This means that If you really are hell-bent on playing that $2/$4 game, you’re not going to be able to play it safely without $8000 to play with.

As mentioned before, your $500 would best be invested in a 10c/25c game, where the full buy in is $25 which, multiplied by 20, gives you $500.

As you move up into some of the higher levels, ($5/$10 and up), you may want to accumulate up 40 buy-ins before moving up levels, to help deal with the more brutal swings that tend to occur at these levels.

What About Tournaments?

When it comes to Sit & Gos and Tournaments, you’re going to need 40 buy-ins for the level of tournament you’re expecting to play. So if you’re going to be making a run at $10+$1 SNGs, you’re going to need to start with $440. You really shouldn’t be taking a shot a Full Tilt’s Fifty-Fifty tournament with a buy-in of $50+$5 unless you’ve got $2200 to back it up with in case you don’t cash.

Basic Bankroll Management Table

NL Texas Hold’em
BlindsLevelBankroll
$0.05/$0.10NL10$200
$0.10/$0.25NL25$500
$0.25/$0.50NL50$1,000
$0.50/$1NL100$2,000
$1/$2NL200$4,000
$2/$4NL400$8,000
$3/$6NL600$12,000
$5/$10NL1000$16,000
$10/$20NL2000$40,000
$25/$50NL5000$100,000
$50/$100NL10000$200,000
  • Note: As you move up into some of the higher levels, ($5/$10 and up), you may want to accumulate up 40 buy-ins before moving up levels, to help deal with the more brutal swings that tend to occur at these levels.

Moving Levels

As soon as your bankroll grows large enough to allow you to move up levels, you should look to do so as long as you feel you can beat the level. The higher the level, the greater the wins.

Having said that, should you drop below the 20 buy-ins require to play that level, you will need to drop back down a level until you have built your bankroll back up. Don’t be too proud to drop levels – there’s no shame in it, it’s just sensible poker.

Taking a Shot

Every poker player does it every once in a while. We can’t help ourselves.

There are going to be times where we feel like moving up a level even though our bankroll may not permit us to do so. Perhaps you’re on the end of a hot run of cards and you want to capitalize or maybe you’re just curious to test the waters and see how you fare at that next level.

There’s no real harm in this as long as it doesn’t become common-place and provided you:

  • Don’t chase losses at this level – accept your losses and move back into the level you are properly bankrolled to play.
  • Don’t get carried away by a few big wins – if your bankroll is still too small to make an official move to this level, it’s important to remember you’re playing outside of it.

In Summary

Being able to effectively manage a bankroll isn’t just a ‘feather in the cap’ for accomplished poker players, nor should it be considered as an advantageous optional extra. Effective bankroll management is an absolutely essential skill and a prerequisite for any player with aspirations of sustaining a poker career in either the live or the online version of the game.

As the poker market matures with more players cottoning on to how to play the game and play it well, bankroll management is what separates the good players from the successful players.

Which would you rather be?