Proper Bankroll Management is an essential part of every online poker fan’s long-term strategy

In fact, however talented a player you are, there’s not any point even thinking about what the long-term future could hold if you don’t implement – and continue to stick to – a sensible, honest set of bankroll management criteria. Countless players have seen their grandiose poker dreams turn instead to nightmares by neglecting this obligatory subject, so don’t let it be you!

For those inexperienced players just starting out in online poker who are contemplating specializing in Sit & Go games, finding a reliable bankroll management plan should be your first consideration. Sitting down to play without one would be foolhardy at best. Incidentally, why Sit & Go poker, I hear some of you ask. Well, apart from being fun, having to get through only a handful of opponents makes winning a prize far easier than in a standard multi-table tournament. Plus, it’s a great format for those with limited time.

So, how do we arrive at a workable BR strategy? With cash games, for example, it would be reasonable to bring no more than 5% of our total bankroll to the table, going higher or lower depending on experience, for example. But with Sit & Go games we have quite a different dynamic. While playing cash can give us a reasonable feel of how we might be progressing – or otherwise – in terms of how we fare at this or that stake, the very nature of the Sit & Go format is far less reliable as such an indicator. This is because the pace of the game, with blinds increasing pretty quickly – especially with super-turbos, for example – can see players having to (or choosing to!) go all-in very early. It’s not unusual to whiz through 20 games, winning, being eliminated early, getting a genuine mixed bag of results, and being absolutely none the wiser as to where we stand development-wise.

In fact, thanks to the dirty word that is variance, it’s quite realistic to say that not until we’ve played a good 1,000 or so Sit & Go tournaments can we gauge – with meaningful accuracy – our ability to win at a specific level. Unfortunately, getting through that many games takes a lot of time – at a rate of six per hour, two hours per day, every day this would take us almost three months! Consequently, such a sample size isn’t realistic.

Online poker pros who multi-table need the strictest level of bankroll management and might opt for, say, 75 buy-ins. While recreational players aren’t reliant on the game to earn a living, some kind of happy medium is called for, although this still has to afford them a bit of flexibility. With this in mind, I propose an absolute minimum of 20 buy-ins for whatever the preferred stakes. For instance, an attempt to see what progress can be made at $5+50c Sit & Go tournaments would require a bankroll of at least $110. Ideally, this provides the dual opportunity to both learn and make a decent profit, but it’s worth remembering that the former is probably the most important factor during the early stages of a poker quest. It’s far from a failure to emerge from a few dozen games having earned nothing but learned a lot!

Meanwhile, if we struggle to keep our head above water or, worse, find that we’re consistently losing, then prudent BR management means dropping down a level (or two). If things go well, then we can move back up again, or this time wait until we have 25 buy-ins. Eventually, we’ll have an increasingly better idea of where we’re going.

Note that it’s wise for less experienced players to be patient and stick to playing one game at a time, rather than try to skip a few rungs of the ladder and give multi-tabling a try. This could take a while but is worth it. There’s no rush – what matters is honing our game…

Have fun!



AngusD switched from pro chess to poker two decades ago and has been professionally involved in the game on numerous levels since the very beginning of online poker, including playing as a poker ambassador both online and at major festivals around the globe. He has written much about the game over the years, and brings to YPD a wealth of experience in all aspects of the poker industry. Meanwhile, his many years on the pro chess circuit (he’s an International Master and prolific author) afford him an interesting perspective on the psychology of poker.

· Published 12.12.2020 · last updated 12.12.2020

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