How to build a poker bankroll

Poker is a game which is easy to learn and difficult to master. But sometimes the hardest part can simply be getting started – building a bankroll to allow you to play as much poker as possible.

Playing without a big enough bankroll is rarely a good idea, and the amount you’ll need depends on the game type you’re playing. For cash games, you’ll need at least 20 buy-ins, with more conservative advice trending up to 40 and even above. You’ll also need slightly more if you’re playing 6-max, which has a slightly higher level of variance.

Other games such as tournaments and Omaha, which have much higher variance, will need a bankroll that allows for plenty of breathing room. For smaller tournaments, you might only need 50 buy-ins, but for top-heavy structures where hundreds of players compete, 200 or even more is considered the norm.

But how do you build up to this in the first place? While tougher games and higher rake mean it’s often easier to make your starting bankroll outside of poker, sometimes that isn’t an option for people. Plus, learning the discipline of grinding and managing your bankroll successfully at a lower level will set you up perfectly for higher limits. Quite simply, you just need to play a lot of poker. But there are a few things to be aware of.

Firstly, make sure you’re playing in the right game – don’t pick games where the rake is extremely high or the player field is too tough, or you’ll always have a hard time growing that bankroll. Secondly, make sure you’re not underrolled – don’t set aside 50 buy-ins to play huge tournament fields with thousands of players hoping to bink a first place finish – it’s simply not likely enough to happen.

Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you’re always sticking to the plan. It’s fine to take shots, but moving up in stakes to try and chase losses is an easy way to bust your entire roll. If possible, you should move down in stakes after a significant downswing.

The swings and variance of poker can be a challenge to negotiate, but if you manage your starting bankroll sensibly and are prepared to work your way up slowly, you’ll get there eventually as long as you play well. Keep focused, stay disciplined, and you’ll be playing higher stakes in no time.