Bankroll requirements and money management tips

How to manage your money when playing poker

Let’s begin with the obvious; it’s important when playing poker not to go broke. Your bankroll needs to be large enough to survive the droughts between winning hands and the bad beats in between them as well. Most experts recommend 200-300 times the big bet as a starting point for internet play, the high side for limit play and maybe a little less for Omaha or no-limit.

Internet poker actually requires a larger bankroll than live poker due to having a smaller edge over your opponents. Tells are fewer and far less reliable. Is that a housewife playing for the first time calling your bet or a seasoned pro?

You'll never know in Internet poker.

You'll need a larger bankroll to overcome this edge reduction factor. Second, you'll be playing far more hands per hour on the net. A fast-paced player at a 6-player table can play a hundred hands in an hour. There are also 9 and 10 player tables each with a speed difference. Want to play 2 tables at once? You'll need to double your bankroll requirements.

These requirements can only grow as more of the fish bust-out and you find yourself playing more and more against the sharks of the poker world. 500-1000 times the big bet is not an unrealistic requirement. Playing at an appropriate limit is of course very important.

Having a bankroll properly sized for the stakes you are playing will help you weather the storms ahead. Get in over your head and you can expect to find yourself drowning in no time. Some players make the mistake of starting at too high of a stake, getting a little lucky winning a bit, then experience the inevitable losing. The only way to recover is to drop down to a lower limit, but it will take twice as long now to recover the losses from the higher limits. You can easily dig yourself into quite a hole.

Fifty times the big bet is a common downswing, even for professional players, and nothing to become too concerned about if you are still playing well. However, if you start with only 100 times the big bet, and you are down 50 big bets, you have lost 50% of your bankroll. If you had started with 300 big bets and were down 50, you will have only lost roughly 17% of your bankroll.

Certainly start out with less if you have regular income and can replenish your bankroll later to continue playing. Just don't be too surprised if it happens to you. Of course, it goes without saying: don't play with any money that you can't afford to lose. Don't even think about going to the poker game in order to make up some money to pay your bills! The short-term fluctuations are just too big, and the stress will make it that much worse.

Remember that we're all playing for the fun of it as well as the moneymaking opportunities; don't let the lack of good bankroll management take all the enjoyment out of the game for you.