Bankroll Management Tournament Poker

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Going Broke

One of the most common reasons a poker player will go broke is exercising poor bankroll management skills. Many a strong, technical poker player will play the wrong stakes and with too few buy-ins and scratch their head after they lose their bankroll.

Size Matters

Proper poker bankroll management is understanding that the size of your bankroll dictates the games and stakes you should be playing. You may very well be able to beat a high stakes private game, but if it costs you your entire bankroll to sit in that game, clearly you shouldn’t. The reason is simple, poker has a large element of luck in the short term. By exercising poor bankroll management and playing with an insufficient number of buy ins, you are putting your bankroll at stake every time you play.

If you're a conservative player, you may need at least 200 buy-ins, or even as much as 500 buy-ins of your working limit. Also, if you mostly play tournaments with a large field, you will also need. Managing and building a bankroll is a critical skill for online tournament players. For new players, the best way to go about building your bankroll is to consider poker like a hobby.

The same goes for poker tournaments where instead of cash game buy-ins you're thinking about tournament buy-ins. You're probably going to want at least 30-50 or more buy-ins because there's more variance in tournament poker. Of course most players don’t start out with a bankroll of $2,000. Poker bankroll is the overall sum of money you are prepared to risk for playing poker. For example, if you earn $1,000 a month and you decide to put $200 each month for playing poker – That will be your poker bankroll. So, $200 is your poker bankroll, and the rest of $800 is safely stashed for your rent, daily expenses, savings, etc.

How Many Buy Ins?

There’s differing opinions on the number of buy-ins required for cash games and tournaments. It’s widely accepted amongst professionals that games involving higher chance require more buy ins e.g. playing turbo sit-n-go’s are very high variance due to the fact that blinds go up quickly and you are playing more all in before the flop poker.
The table below can be used as a guide for the minimum number of buy-ins you should have for different formats of No Limit Texas Holdem.

If you often find yourself going broke and you’re playing with less than 50 buy ins in your bankroll, you need to think about moving down to a level that your bankroll can afford.

Bankroll Management Tournament PokerBankroll Management Tournament Poker

Bankroll Management Tournament Poker Tournaments

Poker Money & Personal Money

Another aspect of poker bankroll management is the ability to separate poker money from personal money. We all love withdrawing and using the money we win on luxuries and that’s great but not if it means restricting your ability to move up stakes or worse, move down. Why not implement a rule where you cash out 10% or 20% of winnings at the end of the month? Sound bankroll management means you are able to play you’re A game regularly without pressure. It is recognising that you are focused on the long term. It also means knowing the right time to move up and down stakes and finding the right level for you. There are players playing higher stakes than they should be and players too scared to move up. Recognising your skill level and reconciling this with your bankroll and the appropriate stakes is a skill in itself. Feel free to contact us if you want a consultation on this.



Poker bankroll management is a key element to being a long-term winning player. It’s importance can’t be understated. It mixes common sense with budgeting skills and self-awareness. Assess your poker bankroll management today and ensure you are properly equipped next time you play.

If you enjoyed this article perhaps you’d like to read our article poker excel spreadsheets?

Last week I spoke about the importance of bankroll management to all poker players regardless of their experience and skill levels. Although I cannot stress enough how crucial adhering to solid bankroll management is to continued success in poker, there are times when you are ready to take a shot at higher stakes or to move up to the next tier permanently.

For a second part of this three-part series on bankroll management, let’s look more closely at factors you should be considering before making that move upward in stakes.


Last month Rich Ryanhad some good advice to share about the subject of “taking shots.” “Taking a shot” refers to playing games that have higher stakes than you usually play, but on a temporary basis. For example, a player who primarily plays cash online games with stakes of $0.05/$0.10 may jump into a $0.10/$0.25 or $0.25/$0.50 game.

If you are going to take a shot at higher stakes, you must remember the following golden rules:

  • You are not taking a shot in an attempt to win losses back.
  • You will move back to stakes that your bankroll dictates once your shot-taking is finished.

All too often I read about players who have been on a losing streak and take a shot at higher stakes in an attempt to win their money back, and more often than not those players only manage to lose even more of their bankroll doing so.

Step back and think about this for a moment — surely the best time to take a shot is when you are playing well and variance is on your side, thereby increasing your confidence and hopefully your focus, too. It stands to reason, then, that while on a downswing and perhaps not playing your best poker, that isn’t going to be the best time to take a shot at higher stakes.

By all means, reward yourself with the occasional shot one or two levels above your current stakes, but please move back down and stick to a bankroll management plan once you are finished with the shot-taking.

Moving Up in Stakes

You’ve been reading the strategy articles here at PokerNews for a while now, have been sticking to a good bankroll management plan, and have been winning. Congratulations! However, you have been playing from a 30 buy-in bankroll and at present only have 27 buy-ins for the next-highest stakes. What do you do?

You could wait until you have a 30 or more buy-ins for the stakes you want to play, or you could take a two buy-in shot and move back down if you lose those two buy-ins. In the latter case, even if the worst case scenario happened and you lost your two buy-ins taking your shot, you would still have a very healthy bankroll at your current stakes which you could use to rebuild again.

Remember, having a bankroll for a specific buy-in level does not necessarily mean you have to restrict yourself to playing those stakes. If you do move up and do not feel comfortable at your new stakes, then move back down again until you can build enough momentum and confidence to compete at the next level.

Taking shots is an important part of bankroll building and skill development, and it can also be a great way to keep the game fresh and exciting. Playing countless hands of micro- and low-stakes poker can be tedious — it’s why they call it “grinding” — so the odd shot here and there in higher games can give you a taste of things to come. Plus you never know, you may run well and add a welcomed chunk of cash to your bankroll.

Next week we’ll conclude this series with some strategy advice regarding one of the most enjoyable aspects of poker — cashing out.

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Bankroll Management Tournament Poker Rules

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