When most amateur gamblers go to a casino or play in a home game, they use the money that happens to be in their wallet or bank account-the same money that they use for other expenses. When they are done playing, they put whatever they’ve won (or haven’t lost) back into their wallet, and it gets mixed in with all of their other money. One of the first steps to getting serious about gambling is to start keeping gambling money separate from your other money. This money, set aside strictly for gambling use, is called a bankroll. A bankroll is necessary in all types of gambling, but in this article I’ll explain specifically how it relates to poker.
Keeping poker money separate from the rest of your money is important for several reasons. The most obvious of these reasons is that it prevents you from gambling with money that you need for something else. In addition, it allows you to keep exact track of how much money you are winning or losing. Because of the human tendency to remember big wins and forget about all the little losses, a lot of amateur poker players may think that they are winning even though they are actually breaking even, or perhaps even losing. Because you will be able to see how much money you are making, you will know how well you are playing, and be able to assess whether you should play at higher or lower stakes (or just stay put).
To start a bankroll, you’re going to have to set aside an amount of money that corresponds to the stakes of the poker games you play. If you are playing limit cash games, the standard is 300 times the big bet (the bet from the second two betting rounds). This means that if you are playing $1/$2 limit, you’d want a bankroll of $600. In NL games and in single table tournaments, your bankroll should be 30 times the buy-in. At multi table tournaments, you should have 100 times the buy-in as your bankroll. These numbers may be a lot higher than you expected, but remember that there is a lot of variance in poker. For example, in limit hold ’em games, even professionals have been known to go on losing streaks of up to 100 big bets. By keeping a bankroll so big, you prevent yourself from having to reload it with more money from your wallet and bank account.
When your bankroll fits these guidelines for stakes higher than you’re currently playing, you should consider moving up to that new game. Of course, you shouldn’t ever feel pressured to play higher stakes poker, and if you feel you’re not yet ready to move up than just stay put. There is no such thing as having too big a bankroll. Unfortunately, sometimes your bankroll will get too small to continue playing at your current stakes. When you have less than 2/3 of the standard bankroll for the stakes you are playing at, try moving down a level and reassessing your game. When your bankroll gets big enough, move back up and give it another try.
When do you actually get to enjoy all the money that you’ve been making? It’s important to always have enough money in your bankroll to continue playing at the stakes you enjoy. When you’re bankroll has increased a significant amount from the standard level for your stakes, and you don’t feel your poker game is good enough to move up, then feel free to take all of that extra money out and spend it. Another common way of deciding how much money to take out of a bankroll is to figure out how much money you’ve made at the end of each week or month, and take a set percentage of that, say 50%. So, if you’ve won $140 over the week, then on Sunday remove $70, and leave the other $70 in the bankroll so that you can continue moving up stakes. The disadvantage of this method is that everyone has losing weeks, and it can be tricky to factor in how these should be accounted for. I’d suggest subtracting you’re losses from the next week’s winnings before taking out the 50%.
Now that you understand bankroll management, it’s time to start using it. Bankroll management can and should be used in all types of gambling, and it’s a must for any serious poker player, regardless of the stakes they are playing at.