Managing your bankroll is one of the best moves you can make as a poker player. Whether you play with friends once a week or crush the field in online cash games each weekend, you need to establish a budget, separate from your everyday expenses, which can be dedicated to the costs of playing the game.
The bankroll is the one thing you can control. You can’t ensure that you have the best hand, win the biggest pot or come out on top in a tournament, but you can keep track of what you spend on poker and how much you earn in winnings.
The first rule of thumb is to only use money that you can afford to lose. If you’re eating into your budget for rent, a mortgage, a car payment or household bills in order to play poker, you don’t have a bankroll at all. Pay off the important things first, then set aside the cash to fund your play.
In general, you should never spend more than five percent of your bankroll at one time. If you’re a keen recreational player who has set a limit of £1,000 a month to spend on poker, don’t plunk down more than £50 on a buy-in.
Next, you need to take into account the way you play. If you’re an aggressive online poker player who multi-tables constantly, you’ll need more money in your bankroll. You won’t need as much cash on hand if you play once a week in a cardroom or online. After that, decide how many buy-ins you want to cover per month and to what value. If you primarily play a NLHE game with a £10 buy-in, then at the very minimum you’ll want £300 in your bankroll or £500 for a bit of breathing room.
Above all, account for variance - the highs and lows that all poker players experience during their careers. You could go months without nabbing a big pot or experience some awful losing streaks that eat into your budget and your confidence. You need to have enough cash in your bankroll to cover you when it feels like you’ll never see a winning hand again.
Ultimately, bankroll management isn’t just about being smart with your money; it’s an essential aspect of responsible gaming. When you know that the money you’re using to play poker isn’t needed for other things, you’ll be a better poker player as you won’t be worried about the bets you are making and can fully focus on the game. If you’re playing beyond your means and eating into your living expenses, but you feel as though you can’t stop playing poker even though it’s not enjoyable anymore, it might be time to seek help.
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