Bankroll Management

This article was requested in our forums. I'll do my best to answer any questions anyone has regarding it.

There are a few different factors that need to be considered when managing your bankroll:

What kind of winrate do you expect to have? Do you know you are crushing the games, or are you just trying them out? This is important because a lower winrate will increase the amount of variance you experience, and will also increase your risk of ruin (your risk of busting your roll). Keep in mind that bankroll management guides are usually designed for the highest level you should be playing with your bankroll. Having a huge bankroll doesn't necessarily mean that you should be playing the highest stakes. Bill Gates is rolled for any level of HUSNG, but it still isn't in his best interest to start out playing the $5500s.

How easily can you replace your bankroll? There is a big difference between busting a roll that is made up of the change in your couch compared to busting your roll that you need for food or to pay the bills. Most people aren't going to be eating out of dumpsters if they bust their roll, but if you are then you want your risk of ruin to be as close to 0 as possible.

How important is it for you to move up quickly? You can move up in stakes more quickly if you use riskier bankroll management, but riskier bankroll management also increases the chance of busting your roll.


Most bankroll management guides I have seen suggest a certain amount of buy-ins for level, generally around ~30. I disagree with this method because your bankroll becomes progressively harder to replace as you move up in stakes.

Instead, for bankroll management for the average player I would suggest something like:


$5s - 15BI ($75)

$10s - 20BI ($200)

$20s - 25BI ($500)

$30s - 30BI ($900)

$50s - 35BI ($1750)


Increasing the amount of buy ins with each level will reduce your risk of ruin as your bankroll becomes harder to replace. Another important consideration is that your winrate will probably decrease as you move up in stakes. As you experience more variance, you may become prone to tilting or wrongly doubting some aspects of your game. These mental changes cause a lot of players to struggle as they move up in stakes, so it is important to consider that your winrate may not be the same at every level.

The bankroll guide above can be adjusted to a smaller amount of buy-ins if the bankroll is easily replaceable or if the player is very confident that they are crushing the games and just want to move up quickly. If you are dependent upon maintaining your bankroll to pay your bills then it would be in your best interest to have more than 35BI at every level. 

Keep in mind that if you get off to a bad start at the next level but refuse to move back down you will run the risk of damaging or destroying the bankroll that you have built. Sometimes moving down a level can be more important than moving up.




How many tables should I play? If you are looking to improve your game then I think that single tabling is by far your best option. If you play multiple tables it can be difficult to truly analyze your moves. If you are confident that you are beating the levels you are playing, then increasing the number of tables you can play well will usually increase your hourly profit. Just keep in mind that extra tables might reduce the speed at which you improve your game. For example, if you are beating the $5s then it might increase your hourly to play 2 or 3 tables, but in a year you could end up multitabling the $10s instead of 1-2 tabling the $100s. The answer to this question will vary immensely from person to person. You need to use your best judgement.

Should I be playing turbos or non-turbos? I've seen arguments that favor both sides of this. After studying the statistics for a lot of different winning players, I've found that they are both very profitable and it really doesn't seem to make a ton of difference. The non-turbos will generally increase your ROI but take longer for each game. In terms of hourly wage (which is what most people would consider to be the most important factor) they seem to be very close.

What is a stop loss? Should I have one? Some players set a "stop loss" for themselves where if they lose a certain amount of games they will stop playing for the session or for the day. This is an effective method of allowing yourself to cool off so you don't tilt and lose more buy-ins. This may be worthwhile if you are very prone to tilting, but I am not a big fan of stop losses. If you have a significant edge on your opponent then it will always be +EV for you to play against him/her. If you are tilting then you probably no longer have an edge. Tilt control is extremely important to have for any poker player, but preventing yourself from playing against someone you have an edge against just because you lost a few buy-ins can do as much harm as it can good.

How many tournaments should I play per session? This is completely dependent upon your goals as a player and how well you can focus. As long as you have enough of an edge on your opponent to beat the rake it will be in your best interest (financially) to play as many games as possible.

What should my Poker Tracker layout look like? I don't use Poker Tracker so I can't answer this one. Someone else can feel free to step in and answer it though.

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Skates's picture

Re: Bankroll Increases

Just a little addition:

As your edge decreases to zero, the amount of your effective bankroll that you can wager in a single match to optimize your expected growth goes to zero.

In real-people terms:  If you do not have an edge, don't play.  If your edge is small, you need wayyyyy more buy-ins.  As an example, I might feel comfortable playing $115s on a 20BI roll, but uncomfortable playing $570s on a 75BI roll.  For regularly playing a high stakes level, I personally try to have 100BI available, but will of course sit weaker players with much less than that.

Why this matters:  Nearly everyone overestimates their "true" ROI, and many people fail to accept that though they might win at 5% at one level, they might only win at 2% at the next given their knowledge of the game.  Be aggressive with your roll when conditions are right, but don't get cocky.  At the same time, staying in microstakes until you can "achieve a sample" is effectively throwing equity away.  If you've made 25BI at the $11s running at 15%, go ahead and sit some $22s.

If you want to know more about the actual math behind these, see any major article on the Kelly Criterion.  Even just reading the Wikipedia entry and plugging in numbers once will give a good sense of how one can determine a necessary bankroll.  You'll see that for most players, the numbers in xSCWx's article represent close to a half-kelly BRM approach. 

seeya's picture

Thank u very much    

Thank u very much



seeya's picture

Oh guys and i understand one

Oh guys and i understand one more thing, can u plz think about some artikle about ConBets.  

Coz i started watching some videos and usualy u tell that "U wont make a Conbet here, on this flop". But what is the reason?

RyPac13's picture

Thank you for the feedback

Thank you for the feedback infinfinf.


I will try to talk a little more about cbetting in future videos.


Another instructor previously talked to me about doing a video solely focused on cbetting.  Look for that in the near future.

Radeh's picture




Goats!!! MORE GOATS!!!

ecaldeira's picture

What about the 4man+ Heads

What about the 4man+ Heads Up SNGs?

Radeh's picture

Skates wrote a good post

Skates wrote a good post about 4man bankroll requirements on 2+2.



Goats!!! MORE GOATS!!!

0mblad0n's picture

Great article,but have a question

Let's say I have 25 Buy ins for 10$ level.If i have a bad run at 10$,when should I move back to 5$?

xSCWx's picture

If you are trying to sustain

If you are trying to sustain a 25BI bankroll then you could move down at 25BI for the $5 level, which is ~$125.