In poker, your bankroll is your working capital. Without a proper bankroll, even the best poker players can’t do much. You need the money to sit down in a cash game or join a tournament – there isn’t really a way around it.
Most of us don’t really have access to anything close to an infinite amount of money (and those who do usually just play poker for fun). So, most players have a certain amount of cash set aside for their poker efforts, especially if money made playing poker is relevant in terms of covering some of your expenses. So, with limited assets at your disposal, the question arises how to manage your poker bankroll optimally?
Don’t Underestimate the Variance
No matter how good of a player someone is, good results are never guaranteed in poker on a short-term basis. Anyone can (and does) experience rough patches where they just can’t book a winning session or win any significant money playing tournaments.
This is perfectly normal. However, you need to manage your poker bankroll in such a way as to account for the variance. While there are no rules set in stone, a good amount to aim for is 50-100 average buy-ins for tournaments and 30-60 buy-ins for cash games. This, of course, only works if you’re playing games you can realistically beat.
In poker, players always want to move up. This is natural, because moving up isn’t just a good feeling in terms of achievement; it also means you’ll stand to win more money. If you aren’t patient enough to wait and build your poker bankroll slowly to where it needs to be to move to the next level, you can take occasional shots.
This means taking a portion of your bankroll and putting it on the line in higher buy-in games. However, you need to be very conservative and careful when doing this. Also, if the shot doesn’t go well, be prepared to work extra hard grinding your usual stakes to make up for the loss.
Be Prepared to Drop Down
Sometimes, for different reasons, you might experience a particularly brutal losing streak. This can be very bad for your bankroll and your mental state. When this happens, if you want to really manage your poker bankroll properly, you need to be able to move down.
Playing at lower stakes for a while will not only protect your money and save you from going broke. It can also help you rebuild your confidence and give you the boost you need to move back up where you belong and continue doing what you’ve been doing before the downswing!