Learn Poker


Bankroll Management

Why do you play poker? If you play poker for fun or if you take poker seriously and want to turn in to a profession, then bankroll management is something you cannot ignore.

So, what do you mean by poker bankroll? Well, it is quite self-explanatory. It is that amount of money you keep aside just for your poker transactions. It does not, and should not, include the money you have in your bank account for necessities like rent, transport and the movies (it is!), among other things.

There is no such thing as a perfect starting BR. It really depends on the stakes you choose to play and your estimate of how much money you need for other stuff. But one rule never changes: never invest more money for a game (or for a week) than you can afford to lose, because no matter how good you are, you CAN still lose. If you do make this mistake, you will invest more money to win back what you lost, and chances are that you lose it all again. This creates a vicious cycle which ends up with you begging your parents for more money.

The key question is: how much money should you put aside just for poker? A useful rule might be to have 15-20 buy-ins in your poker BR. For example, if you plan to regularly play a 5/10 cash game with 500 rupees as the minimum buy-in, you should ideally have between 7,500 rupees and 10,000 rupees in your poker BR. It is very likely for you to get busted with your initial 500 rupees, because cash games start real loose. But don’t spend more than 25% of your poker BR in one game. One bad day doesn't mean you’re never going to win. 

Choose the right games. If your BR has X rupees, do not sit at a table which demands a minimum buy-in of X/2. The problems of this are many. It may disrupt your natural play because in the back of your mind, you will be scared of losing half your BR in one session. You may end up folding on the flop when you’re drawing to the nuts. The other factor is that on such tables, it is very common to run into big-stack bullies, whose large stacks will intimidate you to fold every hand and shove with every premium hand. That’s not poker, that’s relying on luck!

As I mentioned above, keep 15-20 buy-ins in reserve. On some days, if you feel like experimenting, you can sit at a table with a buy-in of X/10 (X → BR), but nothing more than that. 

Knowing when to get up is a problem very few poker players can solve. Set a target before sitting at the table. Winning up to 3 times your buy-in is a very reasonable target. Some players are satisfied with just a double-up. Do not confuse hot streaks with good play. You might be the perfect textbook player, but even your streak will end soon. So get up while you’re still up.

The most important thing is to not have high expectations. You cannot expect yourself to walk into a poker game with 500 rupees and walk out with 5,000. Poker is a grind, it is NOT easy money. Winning little amounts is so much better than losing huge amounts.

Lastly, having a separate savings account just for your poker winnings. What’s the point of winning all that money if you just lose it all in the next few days? From this account, spend little amounts regularly. Go for a movie or buy your mother a nice jacket. This will ensure that you don’t play recklessly, thinking that you have enough money saved for situations where you’re losing too much.


Shikha Tripathi

A social media strategist and an avid poker enthusiast, she loves taking risks and so is naturally aggressive on the poker table.