The popularity of poker is growing like it never has before. Normal people like you and I are making small fortunes playing this game. Many people are wondering just what they need to do to take that next step from amateur to professional. The first and sometimes most important step to turning poker from a fun hobby into a lucrative endeavor is creating a dedicated poker bankroll.
Your poker bankroll is an amount of money set aside for the sole purpose of playing poker. It is vital to have this money completely separate from your 'normal' money. You know, the cash that you use to pay bills, buy groceries, go out to the club on Friday, and so on. Your bankroll should be 200-300 times the amount of the big bet for limit games, so for a $ 3-6 limit hold 'em game, your bankroll should be $ 1200-1800. For no limit games, you should have at least 100 times the maximum buy-in. For tournaments, again you should have at least 100 times the maximum buy-in. I run with a bankroll of $ 10,000 playing mostly in $ 100 buy-in no limit hold 'em cash games as well as tournaments that are right around that buy-in amount, with a smattering of low limit Omaha HiLo on the side.
A bankroll is crucial in being able to ride out the massive swings of good and bad luck that you run into playing poker. When I was 19 years old, I decided that I was going to make a living playing poker. I had right around $ 2,000 sitting in my bank account at that time. I left my job and told myself that I was going to be serious about making money and making a living by playing poker. The problem is, I did not know anything about keeping a separate poker bankroll, and I needed to live off the very money that I was playing poker with. Sure, I made money. Some months I made $ 1,000. Some months I took bad swings and would end up down a few hundred. It went well for 6 months until I hit a bump in the road. I had a bad swing of luck and within 3 weeks my once proud bank account was sitting at $ 600. I was forced to use it to pay my rent, then had to go out and get a job, starting over from scratch.
I made two massive mistakes that I did not even know that I was making at the time. Since then I've learned better, but I implore you to learn from my lesson if you want to be serious about making money playing poker.
My first mistake was that I was playing above my bankroll. I did not know that I should have had $ 10,000 to be playing in $ 100 buy-in no limit hold 'em games, and it definitely shown. That is really the lowest amount that you can play for in brick and mortar casinos and still consistently make money, so I dare say that $ 10,000 is the key amount that you want your bankroll to be at.
My second mistake was that I was playing off my actual bank account instead of having a dedicated poker bankroll. I was trying to live off my winnings, and one extended swing of bad luck temporarily ended my poker career. You must create a dedicated bank account if you want to make money playing poker, I can not stress this enough.
Once you set up your bankroll, remember that it is sacred. Do not remove any money from it without it is at least double the size needed to play at the limits you're playing at. I have a $ 10,000 bankroll and I only ever pull out anything off the top when it is over $ 20,000. Keep in mind that the $ 10,000 is a cushion, all of which may be needed some day to ride out a string of bad luck. Stick to these rules of maintaining a good bankroll and play a solid poker game and you're well on your way to making decent money playing poker.