I'll be the first one to admit that poker bankroll management is not the most exciting topic in the world. Even so, it's absolutely vital that you understand bankroll management and, more importantly, apply it to your game. There's really no simpler way to ensure your success at poker than to manage your bankroll with intelligence and discipline.
You can almost guarantee yourself that you'll never go broke if you practice proper bankroll management. The basic idea is that you always play at stakes for which you have the proper bankroll. Any time you bankroll falls below an established minimum, you move down in stakes so that you once again have a proper bankroll.
This bankroll strategy will keep you out of trouble no matter how bad of a run you may have. Unfortunately, all poker players experience downswings. With a large bankroll, you can survive even the worst downswings and get back to action in no time. Players who do not have any sort of bankroll system in place almost always go broke at some point.
No Limit Ring Game Bankroll
The general rule of thumb for no limit poker players is to keep a bankroll of at least 20 buyins. For example, if you have a $ 2000 bankroll, the highest stakes you should at is $ 0.50 / $ 1.00 ($ 100 buyin). Remember - that's the minimum you should have for your stakes. Any time you bankroll drops below that amount, you should move down to a level where you have at least 20 buyins again.
As you move up in stakes, you will do better to increase your minimum bankroll to 30 buyins. The games get more aggressive the higher up you go, so you'll experience greater swings in both directions. A 30 buyin bankroll will give you enough cushion to keep you from going broke.
There is also nothing wrong with keeping an even bigger bankroll. The bigger your bankroll, the less likely it is that you ever go broke. Some players, especially those who play heads-up, keep bankroll of 50 buyins. A larger bankroll makes it slower to move up in stakes but it also adds an extra level of safety for the serious poker player.
Fixed Limit Ring Game Bankroll
A bankroll of 300-600 BBs (big bets) is recommended for fixed limit poker players. Shorthanded players should stick with 500-600 BBs but full ring game players can get by with a slightly smaller bankroll.
The more serious about poker you are, the bigger your bankroll should be. Big downswings happened to even the best fixed-limit poker players so a big bankroll is vital. Any time your bankroll dips below your set minimum, you should move down in stakes.
MTT Poker Bankroll
The most widely accepted bankroll for multi-table tournament players is 100 times the tournament entry. For example, if you have a $ 1,000 bankroll, the largest tournament you can play in is a $ 10 tournament.
100 buyins sounds like a huge bankroll but tournaments are the swingiest form of poker. Tournament players experience long dry runs interrupted by the occasional big win. It requires a large bankroll for you to play without a significant chance of going broke. This is the minimum recommended amount. As soon as you dip below 100 buyins for whatever level you usually play at, you need to move down to smaller tournaments.
SNG Poker Bankroll
For sit-n-go tournaments, 50 buyins is generally considered to be a healthy bankroll. This means that if you have a $ 1,000 bankroll, the largest SNGs you should play in are $ 20. Although not as swingy as MTTs, SNGs can still be quite high-variance games. A bankroll of 50 buyins (preferably 100) will keep you safe.
Self Discipline is Key
These bankroll recommendations are all fairly standard. Many experience players recommend even higher numbers for bankroll but I think these are fine if you practice bankroll management. No matter what size you choose for your bankroll, the most important thing is that you are able to move down in stakes if your bankroll shrinks.
Moving down is never fun but that's where the self discipline comes in to play. In all poker players, self discipline is probably the most important trait of all. If you do not have the discipline to move down when your bankroll dictates you should, you will go broke. It has happened to some of the greatest players in the world.
If you experience a big downswing, you'll be tempted to stay at your current stakes so you can hurry up and make the money back. That temptation is one of the greatest destructors of bankrolls. It's not fun to move down but if you make yourself move down, you'll be glad you did. The games will be easier and you'll once again have a little breathing room.
Poker bonuses are a great way to build the bankroll but it's important that you move up in stakes with care. If you get a large deposit bonus and suddenly jump up three levels in stakes, you'll find yourself playing against significantly more skilled players. Be very careful when you move up in stakes with the help of poker bonuses.