Calculating your poker bankroll
If you’ve ever sat down to play online poker—or if you’ve ever played poker at a land-based casino—you’re probably very familiar with the following scene:
9:00pm – An ecstatic poker player takes a seat at a $0.50/$1 No Limit Hold’em table with $200 in chips.
9:03pm – The very same poker player leaves the table empty-handed (and empty-pocketed).
Three minutes. It goes without saying that this guy is a complete amateur. And it goes without saying he never read this article about calculating your poker bankroll. Call him a donkey. Call him a newbie. Call him nasty names. Bottom line? He has no clue what he’s doing. What makes us so sure? Well, if he were actually serious about playing poker, he’d know the first and most important rule of the game.
We’re not talking about knowing the hand ranking system (although that’s clearly important). Nor are we talking about being able to read and call bluffs.
Nope, we’re talking about the most fundamental online poker rule ever—bankroll management and how to calculate your poker bankroll.
As a newbie, it’s pretty tempting to just drop your entire bankroll at a table where the blinds are $1/$2 or even $5/$10. Just watch one of those tables for a minute and you’ll see massive pots—we’re talking $500+ pots every time—get pushed around.
How could you not want a piece of that action?
Well, the first thing to note is that poker isn’t a game of luck. Yeah, there’s some element of luck involve, but poker is a skill game. And great players only play hands that are seemingly unbeatable (and even great players make you think they have something unbeatable when they don’t).
Great players also come to the poker table with enough money to get them through enough losing hands without having to worry. So how do you calculate your bankroll in poker? The following table will calculate it for you.
20x the buy-in for NL Hold’em Cash Games
300x the big blind for Limit Hold’emCash Games
40x the buy-in for SnG Tournaments
What does this mean in English? If you’re thinking of playing a No Limit Hold’em cash game where the blinds are $1/$2, and where you’re eligible to bring a maximum of $200 to the table, you should have at least $4,000 in your online poker account (or offline poker account, if you play live).