Poker Bankroll Management

Managing a bankroll carefully is a vital skill for a successful player to learn, no matter at what level you play the game. Here are some pointers on bankroll management, which will help ensure poker is an enjoyable as well as profitable pastime.


The term “bankroll” refers to the amount of money you set aside exclusively to play poker – for example the money you have online at PokerStars. It is separate from all the other finances in your life.
No matter how big your bankroll may be, there is always a risk that you could lose it all and this should not impinge at all on any of your other day-to-day financial obligations. To keep this risk as low as possible, good bankroll management is required.


1. Never play for more money than you can afford to lose

This is the most important rule. It is always possible to lose money playing poker, even if you play every hand perfectly. Therefore you should NEVER risk an amount of money that could get you into financial trouble away from the poker table, especially if you are experiencing a downswing.

Similarly you should never put yourself in a position where your entire bankroll is on the table in a single tournament or hand. Only ever sit down with a small fraction of your bankroll at any one time.

2. Be aware of your goals

Broadly speaking, poker players fall into three groups, each with different expectations and goals in the game. It is very important that you decide what you want from poker and that you select the right level to achieve your aims.

  • Recreational players are playing mainly for fun and have other sources of income besides poker. If they lose their bankroll they can fund it with fresh money from their regular source of income.
  • Serious players are good and profitable players but do not depend only on poker for their income. It is not the end of the world if they lose their poker bankroll, but it will hurt.
  • Professional players depend on poker as their only source of income. They cannot afford to lose all their bankroll as this means they would lose their job. Therefore they must employ the strictest bankroll management techniques.

3. Do not play higher than your bankroll permits

The following information is intended to offer a good rule of thumb for bankroll requirements if you are playing sit and go tournaments and multi-table tournaments, or fixed limit Texas Hold’em . (The chart at the bottom of this page offers a general guide to bankroll requirements to play no limit Texas Hold’em cash games.)
If you are a recreational player don’t risk more than 10 per cent of your bankroll at once. If you have a bankroll of $100, you should not be entering a tournament with a buy in of more than $10 or sitting at a cash table with more than that amount. For serious and professional players the bankroll restrictions are even tougher.

Sit and go tournaments (STTs): If you are a serious player, you should aim to have at least 30 times the tournament buy in in your bankroll before entering any STT. A professional player will need 100 buy-ins.
For example, a serious player could play $20 STTs with a bankroll of $600 but a professional would need $2,000 in his bankroll in order to play $20 STTs.

Multi-table tournaments (MTTs): Tournaments offer huge prizes but also huge swings. You should have at least 50 buy-ins in your bankroll in order to play them as a serious player. A professional will need 200 buy-ins. It is probably best not to play tournaments exclusively. It is safer also to play SNGs or cash games.

Fixed limit Hold’em: You should probably have about 300 big bets in your account to sit down at a fixed limit Hold’em table. For example: in order to play $3-$6 fixed limit Hold’em, you need a bankroll of at least $1,800 (300x$6) to play safely.

4. Stay inside your comfort zone

If you start playing at a limit that you feel is too high, you should stop – even if you can afford to keep playing. It is easy to get nervous in these situations, which can lead to you no longer enjoying the game and making poor decisions. A competent poker player only plays within the limits in which he or she feels comfortable.


The chart shows you the bankroll requirements for different stakes at no limit Texas Hold’em cash tables. No limit Hold’em can be an extremely volatile game to play, so you must make sure you have a big enough bankroll for the stakes you want to play.

Limit Buy-in X Recreational Player 10 times X Serious Player 20 times X Professional Player 50 times X
$0.02 / $0.05 $5 $50 $100 $250
$0.05 / $0.10 $10 $100 $200 $500
$0.10 / $0.25 $25 $250 $500 $1,250
$0.25 / $0.50 $50 $500 $1,000 $2,500
$0.50 / $1 $100 $1,000 $2,000 $5,000

In order to play a game, you should have at least the amount listed above. For example if you are a recreational player and have less than $50, it is best only to play the $0.01/$0.02 games. With a bankroll between $50 and $100 it is OK to play $0.02-$0.05 games, etc.

When you first sit down at a cash table, you are usually told the buy in restrictions, ie, the maximum and minimum amount a new player is permitted to bring to the table. But you will need the same total bankroll whatever starting stack you choose to bring to the table.

For example, if you buy into a 1c-2c game for $1 instead of $2, you will risk less money in every hand. But the risk of losing all your money in one hand increases as well. Therefore you can use the chart even if you prefer playing with a shorter stack.


Even if you play with perfect strategy, there are times when you may experience a losing streak. On the other hand, sometimes you will experience periods where it feels as though you can do no wrong. But if you stick to the rules above, you will be able to survive these downswings and upswings, by properly managing your bankroll.

Stay confident, make the right plays, and you’ll enjoy the game and make profits in the long run.