You can bluff like a pro but can you manage your bankroll? Good money management is an essential skill in the poker player’s toolkit. These four poker bankroll tips will ensure that you practice great poker bankroll management with every single game.

1. Build a bankroll that is large enough to deal with bad luck

Do not start playing with a bankroll that is only large enough to fund a winning game. Even the best poker players will be prepared to take a few financial hits in each round. Before you start playing, ensure that you have some spare money to absorb losses.

2. Leave most of your bankroll at home when you start to play

You’ve built a hefty bankroll: what do you do with it? Leave it at home, of course! Or, in the world of online poker, leave it in your bank account or online wallet. This may sound silly, but experts recommend bringing no more than 10% of your total bankroll with you as this is a great way to ensure that you do not squander your money. To give an example in terms of buy-ins to poker games: if you have enough money in your total bankroll to buy yourself in to 100 games, only take 10% of that (i.e. 10 buy-ins) to each poker session.

3. Spend your winnings wisely

It may be tempting to use your winnings straight away to put down further stakes in yet more poker games. However, it is much more satisfying to use some of your winnings to purchase something tangible, such as some new clothing, a nice dinner with your partner, or perhaps some cool accessories for your poker gaming table (a new webcam for instance, to make live dealer games clearer and sharper). One thing that you should never do is rely on your winnings from online poker to pay for bills and essential items: all that it takes is one piece of bad luck and you may find your electricity being cut off. Ensure that all of your essential bills and other key purchases have been taken care of before you start to use your remaining money to build up a bankroll for poker.

4. Know your base bankroll

The base bankroll is the amount of money that you take with you to a particular session of poker. If you are playing a simple game of online cash poker, experts recommend taking money that will give you 25-30 buy-ins to the game. If you are feeling particularly flush, you could take a little more money in with you, but it is recommended that you do not exceed more than 100 buy-ins. For poker tournaments, experts suggest that you expand your base bankroll a little, bringing around 50 buy-ins’ worth to each tournament. There is no point in playing poker if you do not have a big enough base bankroll. If you have not managed to accumulate money to get the right number of buy-ins, it is best to sit out the next few games or tournaments until you have got enough money in your bankroll.

Are the rules different for professional poker players?

The essential principles of good bankroll management are the same for players at all levels in the poker world. Whether you are a professional or someone who is just starting to play in poker tournaments and cash games, you will find that the four tips given above will really aid your money management poker strategy.

Signs of bad bankroll management

Bad bankroll management can scupper your chances of winning at poker, and can have a serious impact on your life. Here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Allowing your emotions of anxiety (‘poker tilt’) or anger (‘poker steam’) to get the better of you and causing you to break the essential rules of good bankroll management.
  • Using money for bills, rent, family trips and other important things to fund your poker habits.
  • ‘Chasing your losses’ by ploughing excessive amounts of money from your bankroll into your stake when you lose.
  • Inability to stop playing poker (poker addiction), meaning that you find it hard to spend your money on anything but poker.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s time to get help from a trusted friend or partner, or professional gambling helpline.