A bankroll is the amount of money you have available to play poker. Nevertheless, the most important thing you should know about money management while playing poker is that until you become a consistent winner, it doesn't matter how big your bankroll is; the only thing that matters is how much you have to lose. With this in mind, the information contained in this article is a guideline for your bankroll once you have become a winning player. The first thing you should know, however, is the difference between a "bankroll" and a "buy-in."
Bankroll vs. Buy-In
Some beginning players confuse the terms "bankroll" and "buy-in." A buy-in is the amount of money you start with in a game or the entry fee into a tournament. Your bankroll is the entire amount of money you have available with which to play poker over a period of time. It would be unwise to bring your entire bankroll at any one time or to use all the money you have with you to buy chips right off. Not only are there ups-and-downs during a single poker session but also ups-and-downs over a period of time. Your bankroll should tide you over the low periods. If not, then you need to think about how poker is affecting your overall finances.
One more point about digging into your reserve when your chip stack is low. In a regular game, it is never advisable to wait until your stack is depleted before buying more chips. If your stack is too low, you can't play with strength. It is better to buy more "ammo" (chips) before your stack gets low or end this particular playing session. It is not so much that you walk away from the poker table with something, it is that you won't play those chips from a position of weakness, which rarely wins. To be able to walk away in this situation takes discipline, which marks the good players from the bad players.
Bankroll-size suggestions range from 200 times the big bet at the level you are playing to 300 times the big bet. These amounts may seem like large numbers, but the fact is that even consistent winning professional poker players have downswings in their bankroll that may sometimes reach 200 times the big bet of the limits at which they are playing. Any number of factors or a combination of factors may cause these downswings. They include a run of bad cards, poor play for one reason or another, poor game or table selection, or health issues.
It is recommended to start with 300 times the big bet. A lot of players play much better when they have this cushion. Some have played at levels in which they had less than 100 times the big bet in their bankroll, and it usually hurts their play. This is obviously a purely psychological hurdle, but when reduced to facts, it makes sense. Keep in mind that 50 times the big bet is a fairly common downswing and nothing to become too concerned about if you are still playing to the best of your ability. Trying to just break-even when you are down is a thought that should never enter your mind.
An Accurate Poker Record
One last suggestion that is extremely important on your trip to becoming a successful poker player is record keeping. This bit of advice is very important. Keeping accurate records is the only way you will be able to make logical and educated decisions for your poker career. Some players keep very extensive records while others keep none at all. It is recommended keeping track of at least the data contained in the sidebar "Suggested Record of Poker Playing."
By keeping these records you will be able to tell over time if there are any trends you need to be aware of and also just how profitable your poker playing is. You will be able to compare your winnings (usually measured in wins per hour) in different games, at different limits, at different times, and at different locations. For example: Solid players usually average 1 to 1.5 wins per hour.
Smart poker players are always looking to improve their performance. By monitoring your bankroll and your records, you'll improve your chances of walking away from the poker table in the black.
For more tips on betting and how to win at poker, try the following links:
- To see all of our articles on poker rules and advice, go to our main article on How To Play Poker.
- The safest bets come when you know you've got the best hand. Assess your chances by knowing How to Calculate Poker Odds.
- Of course, sometimes you can win with lousy cards. You can fool them all when you know How to Bluff in Poker.
- Once you know how to bet, you'll be ready for tougher competition. Go for the brass ring once you've read How to Play Poker in a Tournament.