What is a Poker Bankroll?

To become successful at poker you must have the right mindset and build your bankroll from scratch. You need to learn how much money you can afford to lose before quitting or taking a break from playing online poker. We have created this page for all new players who are looking for information on building their first bankroll in order to play online poker professionally. By following our advice you will be able take control of your finances while learning the basics of Texas Hold’em rules and strategy as well as gaining experience that will help improve your game over time.

How Much Should I Have in my Poker Bankroll?

It’s a common question: How much should I have in my poker bankroll? The answer to this is going to depend on the size of your bankroll and how often you play. But, if you are playing at any stakes above $0.50/$1, we recommend having at least 10 times the minimum buy-in for that game. For example, if you’re playing $5/$10 NLHE cash games, we would recommend having a bankroll of at least 500 times the minimum buy-in ($1000). If you’re playing tournaments with starting stacks less than 20 big blinds (e.g., 5/10 6max), then invest an amount equal to ten times what it costs to enter the tournament multiplied by 100. So, if a tournament costs $10 to enter, you should have at least $1000 in your bankroll. We recommend having at least 20 times what the starting stack is (e.g., 20 x 100 = 2000).

How Do I Build My Bankroll?

You’ve decided what stakes you want to play, what your buy-in is, and what your bankroll should be. Now what? Before you actually start playing, it’s important to have a good game plan for how you’re going to build your bankroll over time. If you’re a new player looking to build your bankroll from the ground up, there are two ways that have proven successful for many players.

The first is what we refer to as the “parallel method”, and it’s what we recommended in this article. This method involves playing at stakes below what you’re trying to achieve above 50-100 times what you’re trying to achieve. For example, if your goal is to be able to play $10/$20 NLHE cash games, then you should start with $0.50/$1 NLHE 50-100 times (i.e., 2-5 levels below what you are trying to achieve).

The second method is what we refer to as the “stair-step method”. This involves playing at what is commonly called a “step” or multiple steps below what you’re trying to achieve. For example, if your goal is to be able to play $10/$20 NLHE cash games, then playing $1/$2 NLHE 100 times (i.e., 5 levels below what you are trying to achieve) will take a long time and probably won’t be as profitable as the parallel method. It’s much more efficient (and thus profitable) to play $2/$4 NLHE 50-100 times (i.e., 2 levels below what you are trying to achieve).

For most people, the parallel method is going to be the most profitable and what we recommend. However, if you’re having trouble finding tables (and thus are forced to play at higher stakes to find games) then using the stair-step method might work better for you because over time your win rate flattens out.

Why do you need a poker bankroll?

A poker bankroll gives you the ability to spend time playing poker and exploring other aspects of the game while feeling safe. It also lessens your reliance on luck, which is always part of any type of gambling and can lead to a vicious cycle going downhill quickly. By having a safety net for reverses in fortune, you have something to fall back on when things go wrong. Having a bankroll provides peace of mind since it ensures that even if you repeat your mistakes or get unlucky that your pocket money won’t be wiped out in one session.

When should I re-invest my winnings into my bankroll?

Sometimes it can be difficult to know when one has accumulated enough money that they can start investing into their bankroll again. Generally speaking, it’s best to wait until you’ve won at least 5x what your current bankroll is so that there are no worries about getting wiped out from one bad run of luck.

A good rule of thumb for deciding when it’s safe to reinvest your winnings back into the game is this: invest once every 10 winning sessions — or if possible, every month.

If you’re starting with $1000 and are winning 50% of the time then you should be investing once every 5 sessions. If you are winning 60 or more percent of the time, then you can invest after every 4 sessions.

What are the benefits of having a large number of buy-ins for your poker games?

In a conventional game of poker, the house takes a cut from each pot as its “rake”. Specific pay tables with varying payoff amounts are often used to determine how much money is won by bets which are not successful. The size of the rake is usually expressed in terms of a percentage, typically taken off the top (or bottom) of each pot. For instance, if $100 goes into the pot and the player who wins that pot takes out another $25 in their winnings, then they would have profited $25 + ($2 × 9) which equals 10% less than what was put into the pot or say 1/5th.

Having many buy-ins for your poker games means you can make more frequent bets because you don’t need a large amount of money immediately available to make your bets. This allows smaller players to bet at what would otherwise be above what they have in their bankroll.

A common misconception about the rake is that it exists purely to make money for the casino/house.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good size bankroll for poker?

There is no set answer to this, as the answer varies by player and game type. However, in general, it’s recommended that players plan on having enough money for a few hours worth of poker play. In other words, $5-$10 per hour should be plenty for an evening.

How do poker pros build their bankroll?

They start out somewhere around 100 buy-ins. This is about $100,000 to $200,000 worth of capital in a poker game. The pros will use this starting capital to join the most expensive games they can find on full tilt or stars and slowly work their way up with “grinding” profits until they’ve reached the stakes where most of the professional players reside which are typically 2-3 times bigger than those found at lower stakes tables.

Where do you store poker bankrolls?

A poker player should always keep a bankroll at a bank or at least in a safe with security. Old fashioned tin canisters for storing goods are often used for storage of the chips themselves and not as proper transportation containers. The best location to store poker stakes is anywhere that you find safe from prying eyes, as this will reduce any temptation to gamble what you don’t have available.