Some basics of bankroll management

By Kenny Smith

This is a topic that just about every poker player has heard of, and a majority know what it is. They also know it’s something that they should be vigilant about.

What amazes me is how many people still don’t employ the discipline to practice it. Appropriate bankroll management is something that needs to be followed to enjoy the game and to give oneself the leverage needed to rise up and be a cut above other players.

When you understand and instill the disciplines of appropriately managing your bankroll you will be well on your way to a lengthy, enjoyable, and profitable poker experience.

Bankroll management has two major characteristics: the bankroll itself and discipline.

A bankroll is nothing more than money that is specifically set aside for playing poker. Bankroll money is NOT money that should have been used to pay your rent or any of your other living expenses. It is money that you have saved up over time in order to give yourself a certain number of buy-ins for the game(s) that you wish to play.

It would be wise to get into the habit of knowing exactly what is put aside separately for playing poker and keep that money separated from living expenses. This will make it easier to determine what level of games you can play based on the bankroll that you have.

The discipline portion of bankroll management is usually the pit that many players fall into. It largely derives from playing in games that your bankroll cannot afford.

I can’t count the number of times that I have talked to fellow players who have told me their stories about how they have gone broke and then need to take a long break from the game. A large reason why this happens is because players get into games that they can’t afford. Their bankroll is not large enough at that time to validate playing in the game they choose, so that they risk going broke.

For example, a player has a $3,000 bankroll and loses three consecutive buy-ins of 100 big blinds at $2/5 no-limit ($500). This player then decides to step up to $5/10 in an attempt to “win their money back.”

The appropriate move when this happens is actually to humble yourself and step down to a lower stakes game like $1/3 and build your bankroll back up. If a lower stakes game isn’t available, either stay at the $2/5 and grind back up again or just take some time away to save up the money necessary to get back to the $2/5 game.

The thing that you don’t want to do is put an even larger amount of your shrinking bankroll at risk trying to recover from earlier losses. It doesn’t make sense, but sometimes poker players’ egos get in the way of making sound decisions. This is a huge factor in why players go broke from time to time.

They won’t step down in limits when logic dictates that they should. Don’t let ego be a factor in contributing to bankroll destruction.  Trust me, those bigger games and the players in those games will still be there waiting for you to get their money when once again you can afford it.