poker bankroll management


Good Bankroll Management is a critical success factor in any form of poker. Without a good bankroll management nobody will have success in poker, does not matter how good he is playing. This article is really very important for everybody who just started and want to earn money with poker.

So what is the Bankroll and How to manage it?

The bankroll is the sum of money,

• which is on your account of the online poker rooms you play (if you play in multiple rooms, you can add the amounts)

•that you have in your accounts at online payment services like Skrill or Neteller, which you want to use solely for playing online poker

A smart MTT, SNG, DON players should manage their bankrolls like a business people managing their companies. You invest the capital in your company (poker tournaments in our case) and of course you are waiting for some return on your investment (ROI) for the time, which you spent and the risks you was taken. If you have no capital (bankroll) anymore, then you’re bankrupt and the company can’t exist anymore. Logically, a clever entrepreneur will only invest small amounts of his capital into different transactions, to avoid risks, which can put in danger existing of the company.
So this is what online poker bankroll management (BRM) means – a measure to keep the risk of going bunkrupt.

It is a formula of number of buy-ins you have for a specific game. There are a few concepts to introduce before regarding bankroll management: variance, win-rate, risk of ruin, and ROI.

What means ROI?

ROI is your percentage of profitability – something you expect to return from investments.
It is the percentage you can expect to earn each time you play a game.

There two types of ROI: the actual ROI is the ROI, which can be determined for a certain time period or amount of games you played before. The expected ROI is the ROI which you will achieve over the large sample size.

But the main rule you need to know: the more tournaments you play, the closer is your actual ROI to the expected ROI.

Our recommendations for bankroll management are aimed at players who beat the current buy-in level – that means they should expect ROI of 5-10%. Players who expect higher Return of Investment – can play with the smaller bankrolls. And for players who think that they will not achieve 5% Return of Investment we recommend to work even with the higher bankrolls than we recommend in our table below:

brm probability downswing

Risk of Ruin

Risk of ruin is the percentage of chance you have of losing your bankroll. For example if you play $500 games and your bankroll is $1,000 – your risk of ruin is extremely high. And in case you are playing $10 games with the same $1,000 bankroll your level of risk is very low.

One more thing you need to know – your win-rate will probably decrease after you move up in stakes. It means that recreational player that plays $5 buy-in games can expect less competition than a pro grinder, which is playing for $500 a game. From this statistics we can see that the less skilled player can often have a higher ROI and win-rate than a better player.

Buy-ins you need according to your level:

Recreational: 15-20 buy-in’s

Semi-professional: 20-35 buy-ins

Full time professional: 50-100 buy-ins

50 buy-in Bankroll according for different levels:

$3+30 SNGs = $165
$5+50 SNGS = $275
$10+1 SNGs = $550
$20+2 SNGs = $1100
$25+2 SNGs = $1350
$30+3 SNGs = $1650
$55+5 SNGs = $3000
$100+9 SNGs = $5450

Different kind of tournaments

The type of tournament also has a very strong influence on the Bankroll Management. The secret is that the better payout system and the bigger amount of paid places – the less required bankroll for buy-in is. For example if the person plays Heads-Up (HU) SNG or Double or Nothing Tournaments (DON) – he/she can work with much more smaller bankrolls than somebody, who plays MTT tournaments with over 500 people. Every second game in DON players are in the plus. In the Multi Table Tournaments the statistics says people winning only once per every ten tournament and the percentage of winning big sum of money at the final table is only about 2%.

Betting Variations

One more thing that have influence on your bankroll is betting limits you play. People, who play Limit Hold’em – can have the smaller bankroll and follow the smaller end of the buy-ins than players who prefer no-limit or pot-limit games.

These tables will help you to decide what bankroll you need for the start:

We recommend to pro players to double these numbers for protecting their bankroll. The recreational player can risk more – about 10% on a buy-in.

Strategies of Bankroll Management

There are two main Bankroll Management Strategies – conservative strategy and aggressive strategy.

Depending on how much risks you are willing to take you can choose the strategy to play – with a bankroll of many buy-ins (conservative strategy) or with little or no buy-ins (aggressive strategy).

To pro players, which play tournaments to earn money for the life – we recommend more conservative strategy and that people, who play for fun – can risk more and chose aggressive style. Here are advantages and disadvantages of both strategies:

Conservative Strategy of Bankroll Management

Benefits + :

• protect from moving down the limit
• downswings hit less because of affecting just a small part of the bankroll. This also prevents the psychological stress, which a lot of players have
• person need to play more long on a certain buy-in level. So one can say confidently that he really crushes that limit
• you have a possibility to know your opponents much better and increase your Return of Investment, because of playing more games with the same buy-in

Disadvantages – :

• it takes longer to move up a limit
• you need to wait more time to see the progress (measured in the buy-in level you are playing)

Aggressive Strategy of Bankroll Management

Benefits + 

• as a good and professional player, you move up limits more fast, increasing your profits
• ability of moving up quickly makes you to be more motivated

Disadvantages – 

• it can be very “painful” when you have to move down a limit
• your bankroll can be cut down by 50 percent by a downswing, even if it’s only 20 buy-ins
• you risk not to move down a limit on time, losing a big part of your bankroll in the downswing
• possibility to move up too fast can cause people to sit on “scared money” and making them not playing optimally

Different Games

With so many kinds of Sit N Go these days, you need to know how to adjust your bankroll management to suit all of them. Here are the example of the most popular games:

• Hyper/Super Turbo Sit N Goes: Fast and crazy games, swings will be bigger in these, increase the guidline amounts by at least 50%

• Double/Nothing or Fifty50: More get paid and not complicated / mechanical strategy here, bankroll guidelines can be reduced a little.

• Knockout Sit N Goes: More recreational feel / novice type players attracted to these games, though bounties do balance the increased variance, suggest the same bankroll as standard SNGs.

• Steps Sit N Goes: Much smaller losses / try again spots and only the occasional big win. These games can be profitable, but the wins will be a long time period

• Multi-Table Sit N Goes: Bigger wins for 1st, more losses, we advise standard bankroll practices for 2-table games, a little bigger for 45 player SNGs and 90 to 180 SNGs need MTT size bankrolls (100 buy-ins).

FAQ Questions

When you have 50 buy-ins for the next level up.

We recommend you the period, when you have 50 buy-ins for the stake below you.

Bankroll Management Recommendations from YourPokerDream

Every player has to decide for himself what bankroll management he wants to use. The main decision factor should be his willingness to take risks. Based on mathematical statistics we have put together the following table.

Here you can see how many buy-ins you should have for the different types of tournaments and for the different level of risks you decided to take:

In the columns you see the variants Sit and Go tournaments, Double or Nothing (DON), Heads-up SNG, 18- and 45 man SNG and Multi Table Tournaments (MTT, tournaments with 100 or more players).

If you want to pursue an aggressive BRM, then for Sit and Go’s (SNG) 50 buy-ins and Double or Nothing (DoN) 30 buy-ins are the minimum bankroll requirement. So if you have $ 1,200 available, then you can play 22$ SNG (54 buy-ins) or 33$ DON (36 buy-ins). If you have a downswing and your bankroll is reduced to less than 550 $, then you must move down from the 22$ SNG to the 11$ SNG because you just have 50 buy-ins left for that lower limit.

One more thought, the fastest way for the vast majority of players to improve their profits is to stop sitting with so many other grinders and go and seek out the fish.

PokerStars is great for pros, but does have a lot of grinders. We recommend you give one of the other big sites a shot and compare the games – Party Poker, Bwin Poker, Betsson Poker,PokerKing, Winner Poker or Coral Poker .


A sufficient poker bankroll is necessary to act as a cushion against variance.

A bankroll is the one aspect of this crazy game of poker that we can control – thats why bankroll management is one of the most important poker skills you must have.

While it takes discipline, it’s a skill that must be learned if you are going to be successful at poker. Don’t risk too much money at one time by moving up too fast in levels. Let your poker bankroll dictate what limit you’ll be playing.

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The last changes of the page “Bankroll Management for SNG, MTT and DON” was made by YPD on January 12, 2020