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Poker Bankroll Management: It’s Like Running Your Own Business

Written by Jason Frakk. Last updated on
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Playing poker does take some sort of investment before you get started.

There are many websites that provide ‘free’ poker but that is either for non-cash games or the first few games are free and to enter the big tournaments you need to pay a certain fee.

There is always a need to check on your finances when playing poker and this is where people use or keep a bankroll.

For those who are not in the know, a poker bankroll is a specific amount of money that your keep aside for all your poker games.

This amount is not to be used for anything other than your poker gaming if you are a casual gamer.

For professionals, a poker bankroll is their livelihood and maintaining that is the only way to pay off bills, if they are not winning those big tournaments and cash prizes.

The point of a poker bankroll is basically to save up for a rainy day, poker games are notoriously tough on players and this is used to keep some cash saved up for those losing streaks that someone may encounter.

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Why is poker bankroll management so important?

make money

Think of your poker bankroll as more than just a bit of money kept aside for playing the game.

There are many stories out there that feature people who did not take control or manage their bankroll and they ended up going broke or even not playing poker for a few months on end until they saved up to start playing again.

Managing this amount of money is like running a small business (or a big business if you are a professional player), the better you manage the money the faster your ‘business’ has chances of succeeding and growing.

Think about it, you start of small with a limited amount of money and then you try to grow this bankroll.

The more tournaments you win, the bigger your bankroll will get which in turn will help you take part in bigger tournaments with better pay-outs.

Bankrolls are of two kinds, online and offline but treating them the same way is the correct way of going about it.

Running a bankroll has a few risks and rewards just like running a business; you do need to take a risk sometimes for the bankroll to grow as with any business but sound decision making is also required.
Tournaments and how to go about it

poker tournaments

If you are just starting off with the game and you see a big money tournament going on, there will be a big buy in and sometimes it could match almost half the amount of your bankroll.

While you might think it is only 50% of your bankroll and you have another 50% saved up, the experts would say that you should never put in more than 10% of your bankroll while playing a game of poker.

There is always a chance of losing out in the game and if you lose half of your assets in any business that could spell the end of your career.

Similarly, sometimes you do need to take a punt, if you have been playing poker for a long time and know the game well enough, you could put up 20-30% of your bankroll and take part in a game.

There are many online and real poker games (real poker as in played in a live table) that have a pay-out even when you do not win the tournament, making it into the pay-out stages can actually earn you more than the amount you use to buy in to the game.

This is only for those who are on their way to become professionals, as stated earlier, anything more than 10% is a strict no for casual poker players.

Another thing to ensure when managing a bankroll is not to mix it up with other things like using the money to pay off bills or buying groceries with it.

It is similar to the capital of a business which is only used for business purposes and not for personal expenditure.

If this means that you have a substantially smaller bankroll so be it, it sets a dangerous precedent if you mix up your poker life with your real life.

This however should only be taken up by the casual players, for the pros, poker and their bankroll is their life.
Tough times don’t last, tough people do

poker fear scary guy

The business world and the poker world are extremely tough places to live in.

Like in the business world, there are many other businesses which are trying to get the better of you.

It is a similar case in the poker world as well with many players taking part in the games you play.

This is where bankroll management can make or break a player.

Often you will see players who are inept in their poker ability end up paying a high price by buying into games where they shouldn’t really play.

You need to know which skill level you are in and how good you are in poker before you jump into the big games.

Managing and looking after your bankroll should only be done periodically, do not look at the bankroll after every game as an upswing in your fortunes might give you a false position of what you are capable of.

Like in a business, you do not check your financials after every transaction or every big transaction; you know you are in for the big haul.

Make a timetable for when you check your bankroll or set a limit to find out when you are really in a tough scenario with how much you have saved up.

Bankroll management does not come easily to everyone but it is one of the most crucial aspects when playing the game of poker.

It can be the difference between enjoying and playing the game for years or spending months on end being broken and completely distraught about the financial condition you put yourself in.

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