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An Introduction to Bankroll Requirements

An Introduction to Bankroll Requirements

Steve Ruddock
February 5th 2006

One of the most frequently asked questions on internet forums is: How much of a bankroll do I need to play such and such a limit, or game? Invariably the answer given is a predetermined number taken from calculations the average player knows nothing about. While the advice is generally sound, it is very general and doesn’t take into account all of the aspects needed to determine the best bankroll for you.

The following series of articles will show you an accurate way to calculate your bankroll requirements in a simple, user friendly manner. The series will be divided into four parts:

  1. An Introduction to Bankroll requirements
  2. Bankroll requirements for limit cash games
  3. Bankroll requirements for No Limit and Pot Limit cash games
  4. Bankroll requirements for tournaments

It would be difficult for a carpenter to get any work done without tools or for a fisherman to catch anything without with out a boat and fishing rods. For a serious player to play poker, you need money.

Taking the analogy a step further; Imagine, a fisherman who has his boat and his rods but only has enough money for 2 days worth of bait. What is going to happen if he doesn’t catch enough in those 2 days to buy more bait? Quite simply, he’ll be out of work. He didn’t allow himself enough leeway to compensate for a couple of bad days. A smart fisherman on the other hand will leave himself enough money for several weeks of bait and supplies to insure success.

A similar situation occurs in poker where players do not have enough money to compensate for a bad day, or in the case of some players a bad hand! This is where a proper bankroll comes in. A smart poker player will have a large enough bankroll to overcome bad days or even bad weeks allowing him or her to always stay in action. Remember, in poker money is your tool, without it you can't work.

A bankroll is the amount of money you have allocated strictly for playing poker. It is not meant to buy groceries, to pay the electric bill, or to go out for drinks with friends. Your bankroll is meant only for dealing with the downswings in poker.

There are two types of bankrolls:

A Recreational Bankroll

A recreational bankroll can be replaced fairly easily. For example, if you earn $1,000 a week at your job and lose the $100 you had set aside for poker, it wouldn’t be too difficult or inconvenient to replace it (as long as your significant other does find out about it.) Someone who plays poker “just for fun” can use a recreational bankroll and just replace their losses as they occur.

A Professional Bankroll

A professional bankroll is difficult to replace. Again, if you made $1000 a week but you had set aside $10,000 for poker, it would take quite a bit of time for you to replace the $10,000, and your significant other would more than likely find out about it! A good poker player keeps a professional bankroll.

A professional bankroll allows you the flexibility to play poker without worrying about losing all of your money in a short period of time putting you out of action. You would have a difficult time consistently playing $10/$20 Hold Em with only $100. You could get unlucky and lose your first hand and not only be out of money, but out of the game entirely with no way to replace the money.

On the other hand, if you have $5,000 and lose $100 during your first hand, you would be able to recoup those losses with the remaining money in your bankroll without taking money from an outside source or being out of action for an extended period of time.

If you are a winning player you should never have to replenish your bankroll from an outside source. Your bankroll should be large enough to withstand any downswings which will leave you with enough money to recoup those losses when the downswing ends.

If you are a losing player no bankroll will ever keep you from going broke, it will only prolong this inevitable outcome.

In Part II of this series I will show you how to calculate your bankroll requirements for Limit Cash Games.

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